If you think the infamous suburb of Kings Cross has lost its groove as a result of the lockout laws, Dulcie’s Kings Cross, a new bohemian drinking parlour is set to revive Sydney’s most iconic entertainment precinct.
Dulcie’s Kings Cross
Located along Darlinghurst Road, Dulcie’s Kings Cross is firmly entrenched in its locale and history, a cocktail bar dedicated to serving all Australian spirits, wine and produce.
The 60-person venue is named after Dulcie Deamer, novelist, poet, thespian, journalist, founder of the Fellowship of Australian Writers and first female boxing reporter. It may have been a strip club and heroin dispensary at some point but once you descend into the multi-level bohemian drinking parlour, the sophisticated style and elegant fitout complete with a stage will transport you to the 1930s, to a time when Kings Cross was a hub of performing arts, culture and theatre, along with Sydney’s historical centre of illicit fun.
All-Australian Cocktail Bar
Brandon Martignago is the man behind the vision and the venue. With his background as a theatre director and with over 15 years’ experience in hospitality, he brings a unique experience to the Sydney bar scene centred on 100% Australian spirits, wine and produce. If this sounds similar to Bad Frankie in Melbourne, he is quick to explain that Seb Costello championed the whole craft spirit movement.
“For years I watched Seb and looked at the amazing work he’s done,” says Brandon Martignago. “I always wondered why there was no Sydney version, as Sydney is the international gateway to Australia, and with Kings Cross vying for a resurrection, the idea was exciting. We definitely took inspiration from Seb but we’ve gone in a completely different direction. We’re more old school Kings Cross drinking parlour, a sexy venue showing people that we can create classics with Australian produce”.
The cocktail list at Dulcie’s Kings Cross reflects the diversity of the Australian spirit industry and reads like the who’s who of Australian craft spirits. “The exciting part is trying new things, like with Melbourne Moonshine that’s never been to Sydney in the extent that we have.”
While the high cost of Australian spirits is always a consideration, the team have overcome it with good deals to ensure that Australian spirits were not unattainable.
“It’s the one thing we’ve had to work out. We’ve got The Roosevelt, Jangling Jack’s and Eau de Vie to an extent, all with high quality cocktail presentation to customers. We already came into a market that had a level of prices and we kept it at that. We’ve had to do it smarter. Going direct to suppliers enabled us to engage with people excited about their spirits.”
The Lovely & The Ugly list features five signature drinks inspired by people and places that have defined Sydney’s culture. Each cocktail comes with a back story, such as The Carousel Club (pictured), a mix of Old Young’s Pavlova Vodka, Poor Tom’s Imbroglio shaken with lemon and strawberry gum syrup which gives a nod to the place that was purpose built by Abe Saffron and Sammy Lee to host Les Girls, Australia’s first male revue.
Lady Mavis’ Tea pays homage to the woman whose family arrived as the first independent merchants and was known for hosting lavish high teas and soirees. The cocktail combines Not Your Nanna’s Brandy with Brookie’s Macadamia Liqueur, lemon juice, house ginger syrup, Davidson Plum jam and a dash of fig bitters and is served in a teacup, naturally.
A list dedicated to The Martini is to be applauded. Aimed at the inspired drinker, it features Australian Gin and Vodka Martinis along with The Deviants such as the Martinez and Vesper. The Bold and Unforgettable truly lives up to its name, a heady combination of Poltergeist Unfiltered Gin stirred with Causes and Cures Semi Dry vermouth and garnished with a rosemary sprig. It is arguably one of the best Martinis in town.
Aside from Australian libations and small bites that include Bohemian’s Toastie, Dulcie’s Kings Cross brings entertainment that include burlesque performers, tarot readers, life drawers, spoken word poets, performance readers and acapella vocalists. Guests can also look forward to a Martini Club where a martini with a new Australian hero spirit is released, Sunday Cocktail Yum Cha Sessions and the Kings Cross Bohemian Quaffers Club as an exclusive yearly membership offering with very select privileges.
Resurgence of Kings Cross
For the team behind Dulcie’s, Kings Cross is ready for a resurgence. “The lockout laws have completely decimated the industry and area,” says licensee Jono Osis. “We can offer something different and fresh and hopefully have a resurgence. We have several hatted restaurants 200 metres down the road and nowhere to drink.”
“This is what the cross was like in the 1920s-1930s, providores, meat, wine, delis,” says Brandon Martignago. “With the advances of war and influx of servicemen, it changed the Cross to a darker more sinister essence and defined it in that period. It has kind of faded. We’re at a time where we get to have a resurgence of Kings Cross, celebrate the golden days again and bring back the sexiness and maturity we’ve been missing for some time.”
Dulcie’s Kings Cross is open Wednesdays to Sundays from 5pm till late.
Click through the following pages to view a selection of Dulcie’s Kings Cross Cocktails.