It’s been a few years in the making and after much anticipation, Employees Only Sydney officially opens this weekend. Here’s what to expect.
After New York, Singapore, Miami, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, Sydney is to have its own Employees Only, the latest outpost from the pioneers of the speakeasy and one of the world’s best bars.
Employees Only Sydney
Employees Only was founded with an ethos of hospitality and the desire to create a space that the industry can call their own. The titular name refers to the idea of caring for people in the service industry as well as taking care of their guests. As such, Employees Only Sydney continues this tradition by serving food and drink into the late hours.
Occupying a heritage-listed basement along Sydney’s Barrack Street, Employees Only Sydney can be identified by the neon “psychic” sign and EO-branded awning. The venue was designed by interior designer Tim Leveson paying homage to the original concept whilst creating a space that is unique to Sydney.
Enter through restored heritage doors and descend the staircase under an antique industrial chandelier and floor to ceiling hand-painted wall murals. Through the draw curtain, the bar awaits. Its curved shape design with a brass bar-top is meant to reflect a warm glow up onto the faces of the guests at the bar and into the room.
The dining room features dark wood, brass finishes and dark green velvet wrap-around banquette seating. The space also holds a private room that will be open to guests most nights but can also be booked for sit down dinners and cocktail parties, and a unique séance room lit with cathedral candles that can hold five people.
Guests who wish to store their valuables can be given a special EO key to one of the lockers with brass handles and vintage finishes, each equipped with their own charging phone station.
Employees Only is known for their intensive apprenticeship programme which leads to earning the coveted EO Principal Bartender jacket. Co-founder Dushan Zarić has been training the team led by Principal Bartender Robert Krueger, a member of the EO family for 12 years, with Dula Lorenzohewa as Head Bartender.
A high-concept drinks list was developed by Zarić and Krueger and features Employees Only’s signature cocktails alongside new creations by the Sydney team.
EO classics include the Manhattan Cocktail with Knob Creek Rye stirred with Italian Vermouth, Grand Marnier and dashes of Angostura bitters; the Amelia with Wyborowa Vodka, St. Germain Elderflower liqueur shaken with fresh lemon and pureed blackberries; and the Ginger Smash with fresh muddled ginger and ripe mango, shaken with Havana Club 3, Velvet Falernum, Luxardo maraschino and fresh lime.
The Down Payment, a new drink developed by the Sydney team brings together Barsol Pisco shaken with avocado, fresh lime, Strega, Suze and aquafaba.
The food philosophy is an integral part of Employees Only. A New York Bistro style menu by French chefs Aurelien Girault and Leo Garnier offers a classic French backbone along with Australian seafood and local and native Australian ingredients such as quandong, karkalla and salt bush.
Two long-standing EO traditions will be be introduced to Sydney. The Employees Only staff meal is prepared daily by the chefs as a family meal for the staff and will be extended to guests at a very reasonable price. This tradition is in line with the ethos of serving the industry and treating guests as part of the family.
The soup tradition was first introduced as a nightly gift for the last people in the bar at the end of the night. At 3am, guests will be served a bowl of warm, chicken soup which comes from a 15-year-old family recipe, a gentle nod that the bar is closing and it’s time for them to go home.
Employees Only Sydney officially opens its doors on Saturday 24 November 2018 at 6pm.
Click through the following pages for a first look at Employees Only Sydney and a selection of the cocktails.