Ramblin' Rascal Tavern was always going to be a small bar with an advantage. The brainchild of Charlie Lehmann, Dardan Shervashidze and Sebastian ‘Cosmo’ Soto (alumni of The Baxter Inn and Frankie's Pizza), Rascal’s certainly boasts a feel unique to the popular Swillhouse Group. And yet this time things have moved uptown, this basement bar establishing itself in the old Laugh Garage on Park Street.
The result? A bar of a very familiar vibe: a dimly lit, fresh-juice-squeezing watering hole, with recognisably boisterous, beardy bartenders rocking overalls as a sort of unofficial team uniform. And we respect that.
Loyalty shows in the all-Australian beer and wine list, the exception being a lone French Brut is the Rascal’s liquor of choice. There’s a $6 ‘Shit Tinnie’ for the battlers (the brand changing to suit the mood of each week). But we’re here for The Rascal Spider ($16) — your choice of booze with Coke and ice cream for the big kids at heart.
The decor too is a throwback to childhood nostalgia; chalkboard walls in the bathrooms beckon all those drunken Picasso moments. The bathrooms, in fact, are a design highlight. Huge posters of cult movie classics line the cubicle walls and the soap dispensers are fashioned from old bottles of Jack.
The evening’s soundtrack echoes a country twang typical of Shady Pines or Baxter’s. But stay late enough and the beat will drop. The mood of the bar transforms until suddenly you are cutting shapes with the bartenders to the likes of Nelly and Shaggy. The only shame is the lack of communal dance space, for there isn’t a person left in their seat. Unfortunately, our bartender was having a little too much fun, getting orders and calculations wrong. But Shaggy has put us in such a good mood that we almost don’t notice.
True, in recent years Sydney has grown somewhat spoilt with trendy small bars. And perhaps it is becoming more difficult to stand out from the crowd. The Rascals are still finding their feet. But there is great potential here, and in the meantime killer beats and freakin' whisky with ice cream, yo! Just look for the door marked with three skulls.