Let's get the obvious out of the way: yes, the bar is named after the song from The Avalanches. I can’t imagine how many times a night they get asked this, but the bar staff remain good humoured about it. "I liked the opening lyrics," says owner Nick White. "Watch the steps, get a drink, have a good time, now, welcome to paradise."
It's no secret the small bars of Sydney are facing some tough times at the moment, so it was great to revisit Since I Left You (SILY) a few years on and see that not only is it still open, but things are looking — and tasting — better than before.
The bar, located near Wynyard, recently acquired a lively urban courtyard, decorated with a large mural and softened by some plants and twinkly lights. It’s a great setting for the regular live music and, in the current climate of lockouts and restrictions, does restore a sense of humanity to the bar scene.
SILY's cocktail list is the creation of bar manager Sebastian Gonzales. It's a good looking list, though a few drinks few veer on the sweet side for my tastes. A standout drink features the super smooth Hakushu Japanese whisky rounding out a concoction of plum wine and ginger Cognac in the Simpsons-referenced cocktail A Single Plum, Floating in Perfume, Served in a Man’s Hat ($20). The Torch Carrier ($18) — a riff on a pisco sour — is pleasantly sharp, and a classic Negroni is made with care and precision.
Crostini is a word that normally fills me with dread, but here it's DIY with toppings and golden toasts arriving separately. You assemble a mouthful to your own liking — in this case with pickled octopus , 'nduja, piquillo peppers and aioli ($18). Which had me liking a lot.
The toasties are seriously good too, and the exact kind of thing you want at 11pm. There’s a good range of local and international wines and a few beers and ciders. With outdoor seating and a CBD location, it’s not surprising SILY is packed with the post-work crowd and lots of third dates. Paradise is hard to find, but we certainly got a drink and had a real good time.
Images: Bodhi Liggett