The team behind Surry Hills' much loved yakitori bar Tokyo Bird has launched a new cocktail offering in Chinatown: Bancho Bar. The 100-seat laneway joint hopes to bring the small bar scene to the heart of Haymarket with a combination of matcha negronis, dragonfruit-infused gin, lots of whiskies and pan-Asian bar snacks.
Cocktails are at the forefront of Bancho's menu and will feature Asian ingredients sourced from Chinatown's nearby grocers and markets. The list is extensive — split into five categories with over 20 cocktails in all — and specifically takes influence from China, Japan, Korea and Thailand. Seasonal cocktails include the bright pink Dragon's Breath (dragonfruit-infused gin and shochu with raspberry, lemon and basil seeds) and the herbaceous Holy Roller (sugar-cane liquor and prosecco with Thai holy basil, pineapple and lime).
Other unusual specialties include the Matcha Chocolate Negroni, which combines gin, French bitters and Lillet Blanc (aromatised wine) with matcha green tea and creme de cacao. And the South-East Sazerac takes a stark departure from the classic — it's got toasted coconut tequila, pandan syrup and aromatic bitters with an absinthe rinse. Sours, spritzes and tropical concoctions make use of sake, umeshu and lychee liqueur.
Like at Tokyo Bird, a long list of whiskies will also be on offer, though Bancho Bar will expand from Japanese whisky into Scotch, Taiwanese and Australian varieties, along with independent distilleries. One very special drop on the list is Suntory's extremely rare Hibiki 35-year-old. For repeat offenders, the bar also offers over 30 bottle lockers for storage in between visits.
A menu of bar snacks will accompany the drinks, like soft shell crab or agedashi tofu bao and the venue's signature kushikatsu: panko-crumbed and deep-fried skewers, served with cabbage and a house tonkatsu dipping sauce. Choose from seafood options like prawn and scallop, or vego options like lotus root, cherry tomatoes and sweet potato skewers. For cocktail-induced nibbling, there's also the requisite edamame, pork crackling and rice crackers.
Images: Jeremy Plaisance.