Tucked away behind Mojo Records on York Street lies this inner city drinking cave. Descend the stairs past the record store and you'll find yourself transported to '90s New York.
Mojo Record Bar has a sumptuous retro feel to it: the walls are lined with vintage records and boast framed concert posters of legends such as Sonic Youth, Tom Waits and The Black Keys. The dim lighting, generated by industrial-style bare-bulb installations and candles, ignites the bar's deep red haze. The shelves above the bar are stocked with skulls, vintage tea sets and a comprehensive supply of liquor. As eager as some of us are to forget the '90s, Mojo scours the crème of the era, serving up a plethora of gems from REM to The Smashing Pumpkins. The crowd here is cheerful, and the bar's city locale makes it a prime destination for the nine-to-fivers eager to loosen ties and shake off a week on the grind.
The drinks menu offers up an extensive selection of Australian craft beers, a few boutique ciders, and a small cocktail list. The cocktails are original and heavy on the gin blends, while the Georgia Julep – cognac, peach liqueur and mint – offers a fresh twist on an old classic. We decide to try the Georgia Julep, the Mojo Rising – apple brandy, elderflower and passionfruit – and the Smells Like Gin Spirit – Hendricks, blackberry, Campari and citrus (all $18). We manage to nab one of the comfy red leather booths and savour our bounty. The bartenders here are confident in their skills and rightly so: the drinks pack a punch without coming off too strong or sweet.
Sydney small bars have developed a strong affection for free snacks and Mojo's no exception. This time we're treated to a bowl of salty pork crackling. There's also a food menu with a solid selection of wood fired pizzas (all $20) and a handful of pub grub-style dishes. We select the vegetarian pizza – brimming with grilled eggplant, zucchini and capsicum – and the beer battered fries served with Spicy Mojo sauce ($10). The pizza is hearty while the crunchy beer batter and the chipotle-reminiscent sauce elevate the fries from your standard deep fried potato.
For all its suave, Mojo Record Bar is unpretentious – in fact, its cool factor feels justified. It's the ideal place to escape and wile away a few hours while the city drones on above you.