Randwick has a new kid on the block. Taking its name from the opening lines of Hunter S. Thompson's cult classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Bat Country adds a touch of cool to The Spot's bustling hub of tapas and Thai restaurants.
Opposite the beloved, golden-age Ritz Cinema, this sharp new drinking hole brands itself as a local's bar, aiming to create an atmosphere that bridges the gap between restaurant and watering hole. Or, as owner Collin Perillo puts it, "the kind of place where Raoul Duke would go to write copy."
The decor of the raw brick interior reeks of Beat Generation swagger. Wander through and you'll find a cluster of cosy booths and a sweet little nook by the kitchen that feels just like hanging out in your grandma's living room. There's also a spread of '60s Americana paraphernalia and some kickass antler chandeliers.
The overall effect is a stylishly outdated but authentic atmosphere. It's also refreshing not to be overpowered by the music. Looping through the likes of Johnny Cash and the Rolling Stones (testament to a committed theme), this small bar has achieved the perfect balance of tunes and chatter.
Bat Country offers a tight cocktail list of innovative concoctions, served by very competent bartenders in Hawaiian shirts (if you're lucky). From the happy-go-lucky Junkie George Fizz (Wild Turkey Bourbon, honey, orange and mint, $16) to the slightly formidable-sounding God's Own Prototype (Havana 7 year rum, Chartreuse, Maraschino, lemon, Angostura, $16), there's a bright array of sweet and sour that will tickle your tastebuds well into the night. Also, The Best Drink in the World (Flor de Cana Extra Dry Rum, lime, sugar, $18) is bound to strike your attention. Whether it is or not is disputable, though it's darn refreshing.
Onto beer. There's a steady flow of Young Henrys on tap, a handful of craft brews from Western Australia, and a hearty Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA ($11), which is probably kingpin of the beer list. Bat Country also caters a luscious range of tasty share plates, such as the Bloody Chunk'a Rump ($15), served strictly medium rare. Or, if you're hankering for a seafood fix, Kitchen Chef Tim's Salt and Pepper Squid with wasabi mayo and dressed greens ($16.50) is sure to sort you out.
This nifty addition offers a friendly and relaxed vibe. It's a much-needed diversification of The Spot's dining scene, and it's already a buzzing success. Swing by around 8pm on a Friday or Saturday, and you'll struggle to get a seat. It is a touch pricey, which may not fly with the student demographic, but you get what you pay for. On the whole, Bat Country is bound to make you feel like a local. Here's hoping it's the leader in a burgeoning Randwick bar scene.