The Maybe Sammy Team's New Mexican Bar El Primo Sanchez Arrives in Paddington This Week
You'll find cocktail jugs, tequila negronis, a hidden karaoke room and an ex-Noma chef heading up the kitchen at this bright new Oxford Street joint.
February 21, 2023
"Authenticity is paramount for us," says The Maybe Group's co-owner Stefano Catino. "We didn't want the concept to be a nod towards Mexican culture, spirits or food — it had to be a respectful homage."
This is the approach the team behind multi-award-winning cocktail bar Maybe Sammy has taken to its latest opening, El Primo Sanchez. First announced back in 2022 and swinging open its doors on Wednesday, February 22 inside Paddington's The Rose, the Oxford Street haunt will be led by Bar Manager Eduardo Conde — who will bring his Mexico City heritage to the bar — in collaboration with Catino and The Maybe Group's Creative Director Martin Hudak.
While Maybe Sammy and some of its sibling venues like Dean & Nancy on 22 are built on luxury, El Primo Sanchez brings the group's passion for quality cocktails to a more casual affair.
The venue can accommodate up to 100 guests with intimate tables for two, ten-person lounges and standing tables all filling the space. The energy is fun and playful, with spotlights drawing attention to patrons with shots of tequila on the way to their table, and a two-person karaoke room hidden behind the DJ booth loaded up with hit songs — plus a functional 'Press for Tequila' button.
An exciting selection of food and drinks brings unexpected twists and turns to the venue's offerings. Highballs feature prominently, ranging from mandarin palomas to the Charro Negro, a smoky twist on the batanga made with corn liqueur, mezcal and cola. Elsewhere on the beverage list, you'll find a gimlet that uses cordial made from toasted leftover tortillas; a fruity watermelon, rose, strawberry gum and lime slushy; and the venue's take on a margarita.
Most of the cocktails can be ordered by the glass — the margarita even comes in specially designed glassware — or in a jarrito, El Primo Sanchez's version of a carafe. And, while there's plenty of unique creations to discover, there's also a healthy selection of classics done in the El Primo Sanchez way.
"For us, it is not about having the biggest collection of tequila and mezcal in Australia; it's about celebrating and appreciating this highly nuanced selection of spirits," says Hudak. "Tequila replaces vodka in our espresso martini, we swap bourbon or rye whiskey for aged tequila in an old fashioned and for our negroni, Blanco tequila is the substitute for gin."
Mexican-born and -raised chef Alejandro Huerta heads up the kitchen, bringing his experiences from across Sydney (No. 92, Chica Bonita) and the world (Alinea, Noma) to The Rose.
Pork belly is marinated for 12 hours before being cooked over coals, and brussels sprouts are roasted and tossed in chilli vinegar — both ready to be placed on tacos. Outside of the tacos, the share plates are best ordered for the table around a jarrito of the cocktail of your choice. Highlights include snapper ceviche, chorizo con papas, guacamole, dry-aged steak and charred broccolini served with a creamy chipotle sauce.
The bar is the first collaboration between The Maybe Group and Public Hospitality (Oxford House, The Strand Hotel). Together, they've transformed this 1940s pub into a vibrant cocktail bar. The colour palette is bright, boasting orange and blue floor tiles. And, the LED lights change colour throughout the day so that it's always just bright enough.
"In order for us to restore an asset and give it a new lease of life, we need to understand what the community is missing and what they want from a new hospitality venue," says Public Hospitality's Principal Architect Tom de Plater.
"There's no point developing what we think is a brilliant concept when it really has no place in that community or neighbourhood. We feel this is a great evolution for The Rose."
El Primo Sanchez opens on Wednesday, February 22 at 27–33 Oxford Street Paddington. It will operate from 4.30pm–midnight Wednesday–Thursday and 4.30pm–1am Friday–Saturday, with Sundays coming in the future.
Images: Steven Woodburn and DS Oficina
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