Another stalwart pub in The Rocks has been given a new lease on life. The Orient Hotel has recently reopened after a three-month renovation, which has taken the venue back to its heritage roots. The public bar and sandstone courtyard have both been restored and there's a renewed focus on live music, with bands on seven days a week.
The corner pub's reopening is a welcome addition to The Rocks' nightlife, with the all-day offering available from morning until late daily and a 3.30am weekend licence allowing for some legit late-night gigs. The heritage building was built in 1844 and boasts a multifaceted history as a Chinese laundry, a butchery and, most notably, a shipping company called Orient Line who docked its boats in Sydney Cove, just in front of the hotel. It's now owned by Ryans Hotels, the group that also runs CBD venues the Paragon Hotel, the Ship Inn and Taylor's Rooftop.
Expanding on the hotel's refurbished offering is a new cocktail terrace Mrs Jones, which is named after Jane Jones, the Orient's 1897 licensee who was a well-known publican in the area. It officially launches this Thursday, May 17.
The space has its own concealed entrance on Kendall Lane and the terrace lounge overlooks the Orient's interior courtyard and the laneways below. Designer Kate Formosa has drawn on the hotel's maritime roots with a replica Orient Line boat model, blue-and-white woven chairs and timber floorboards, all while giving the terrace a greenhouse feel with a lush garden fit-out and sliding glass panel walls.
Ex-Merivale drinks-maker Tommy Donnison is heading up the bar and has curated a sizeable cocktail menu with heaps of classics, plus signatures including the Fizzy Jones (gin, green apple liqueur, Baileys and lime juice soda) and the Purple Haze (vodka, blackcurrant and cacao liqueurs, vanilla syrup, blueberries and egg white).
For eats, chef Brad Copeland (ex-Est., MG Garage, Bistrode) has created a menu for both venues that aims to showcase Australian produce and focuses on share plates — ideal for nibbling on with cocktail in hand. Think slow-cooked lamb croquettes with truffle honey, panko-crumbed prawns with garlic mayo and peking duck spring rolls, along with your requisite charcuterie platters. For larger dishes, sous vide Queensland kangaroo rump and crispy pork belly accompany pub classic schnittys, parmas and burgers.