Aquarium Wharf, Wheat Road, Darling Harbour NSW 2000
Cocktails & Bloggers Ahoy!
Thanks to George Redmond from Wasamedia for inviting me along to a cocktail making and tasting blogger event at Helm Bar which is located in a prime location for attracting tourists around Darling Harbour. I learnt three things on the day — firstly, my PR contact George was actually a woman — secondly, it’s interesting taking photos of people taking photos — and finally, Helm Bar had an interesting repertoire of cocktails that were different from just the usual classics. Also I reckon Terry Durack would have had a chuckle seeing so many FABs (Female Asian Bloggers) today — the term he mentions in his Jamie's Italian review. From the description I thought it was going to be partly a cocktail making class where we actually got to make the cocktails ourselves but this task was left in the good hands of our competent bartender Matt so it was more a tasting class. The Espresso Martini ($17) was justified at around 11 am due to containing coffee — which was also supported by Smirnoff Vodka, Tuaca and Kahlua. Nice balance of flavours for those missing their caffeine hit and needing the hair of the dog. The Senorita Margarita ($16) was very limey for me and unfortunately the sampler didn't have a salted rim although I've never been a fan of margaritas so I didn't mind. I'm not a bit fan of cocktails with tequila or salt for that matter except the taste of olives in a martini. I'm suspecting margaritas are an acquired taste for me.
For those not adverse to a bit of heat the Sexy Saint ($18) with St Germain liquor shaken vigorously with a mix of chilli, lemon juice & honey set my taste buds alive. I didn't mind the chilli although I'm not sure if I could have finished a whole one. The Ginny Hendricks ($18) sounded like my kind of cocktail with Hendricks gin & Aperol, muddled with cucumber, lime juice & sugar syrup, strained & topped with ruby red grapefruit juice. It had refreshing flavours although I think I needed more than a little taste test to fully appreciate the overall balance of flavours in the cocktail. The Oriental Sweet Tart ($17) had potential with Plymouth Gin, lychee & pear liqueur but I found the orgeat syrup overpowered the cocktail just a bit too much with the almond flavour for my liking. The final Mystery Cocktail prepared was not yet on the menu as they're still wanting to find a name for it. Mixed with Disaronno, Citrus Vodka, lime and passionfruit it looked pretty good served in a tall glass. I was thinking 'Pash Me Now' or perhaps even 'Pash Me After' once you've had one.
After the sampling of cocktails it was time for lunch with platters of assorted food coming out in plentiful supply — I'm sure everyone was full to the rafters with the generosity. My favourites were the tasty duck pancakes, crispy tempura prawns even though a little oily and the carved steak platter which I didn't think needed the scattering of fries over it as part of the presentation, but loved its flavour and tenderness. The only thing missing to complete the lunch was a cocktail of choice, bottle of wine or even jug of soft drink to share on the table to help wash all the food down. With plenty of seating, covered alfresco views of Darling Harbour and weekly specials priced to please it seems Helm Bar is geared to attract the hungry and thirsty tourist or even after work city local looking for a place to catch up with friends. It's probably a bit off the beaten track for me but if I'm in the area again I might be tempted to explore more of the cocktail menu.
Other visits to Helm Bar:
• 24 Mar 2012 - Cocktail tasting blogger event
• 16 Apr 2010 - Drinks
PROS: Water views, Interesting cocktail menu, Plenty of seating, Bistro menu seems reasonably priced
CONS: Only small tastings today but a cocktail is best fully appreciated drinking as a whole from the correct serving glass, Drinking before 12 noon might be frowned upon by some
MUST TRY: Espresso martini for the caffeine addict, Ginny Hendricks for the gin lover, Visit on Tuesday for $7 cocktails all day
Meet Matt the bartender
Espresso Martini: A good old serving of the daily grind with Smirnoff Vodka, Tuaca and Kahlua ($17)
Senorita Margarita: Jose Cuervo Traditional & St Germain Elderflower Liqueur shaken with lemons, limes & a dash of agave nectar served straight up or on the rocks with salt ($16)
Sexy Saint: St Germain liquor shaken vigorously with a mix of chilli, lemon juice & honey ($18)
Ginny Hendricks: Hendricks gin & Aperol, muddled with cucumber, lime juice & sugar syrup, strained & topped with ruby red grapefruit juice ($18)
Oriental Sweet Tart: Plymouth Gin, lychee & pear liqueur with a balanced serving of lemon juice and orgeat syrup, shaken & served low ($17)
Name this cocktail — how about 'Pash Me Now' or 'Pash Me After'
Antipasto platter with Peking duck pancakes
Tempura Prawns w/ soy & wasabi mayonnaise
SIMON FAVOURITE :-)
Chicken Chimichanga w/ spiced avocado
Wedges w/Sweet Chilli and Sour Cream
Fish of the Day (Salmon) w/Crushed Kipfler Potatoes, Fennel Olive and Chilli Salsa (Tasting Size)
Scotch Fillet w/ Cafe de Paris Butter (Sliced)
SIMON FAVOURITE :-)
Sichuan Salt & Pepper Calamari w/ thai dipping sauce
WORTH TRYING :-)
Lunch time views
Time for cocktail sampling
Photographers in action
The lengths bloggers will go to get their shot