Bar Patrón by Neil Perry
Now, in theory this should be an easy one.
Guilty as charged – I do harbour a weak spot for the distilled emissions of the blue agave plant from the state of Jalisco – be it the sharper blanco, joven or the subtle flavoured, well rounded reposado, anejo or extra anejo varieties with their smooth finishes.
I could harp on about scents of sawdust, nuances of oakwood and earthly hints of broiled zucchini, but I guess you get the drift: I savour a good glass of tequila.
Specifically Patrón – a Tequila brand that made it its mission to change the perception of the tipple: Patron made it about taste and sophistication rather than it being a mere accelerator for quick intoxication.
Another passion revolves around the empire founded by one Neil Perry.
The cured, dry aged meats along with the twist he infused his Rockpool Bar & Grill with to give it his own idiosyncratic Australian spin is something you would not want to miss out on if you ever visit Sydney or Melbourne and fancy a great steak.
Rockpool Bar & Grill being only one constitutent of Perry’s many ventures, which run the gamut from being the curator of Australia’s national airline Qantas’ cuisines, author of books and columns and a range of celebrated restaurants.
So in theory, it should be easy to pen an article about Australian cuisine royalty Neil Perry teaming up with Patrón to open the world’s first Bar Patrón.
Yet having experienced it firsthand, it proves to be harder than it seems to do it justice due to the mélange of sophistication and down-to-earthiness that Neil Perry’s approach is informed by.
See, Tex-Mex cuisine is popular around the world, but hand to heart: More often than not it is not what it set out to be and culminates in a carbohydrate heavy indefinable something drowned in a bucket of guacamole – the antithesis of what it should be.
Enter Neil Perry.
With emphasis put on fresh- and lightness, subtle flavour nuances, and a myriad of herbs added to the mix, based on his ability to create a welcoming and engaging experience that attracts a variety of crowds, from foodies via the hospitality crowd to the yet to be inducted and voilà – you got yourself a great establishment that lives up to the expectations one has from having frequented any of his Rockpool incarnations.
Mexican native Pamela Valdes, formerly of Rosetta and Xalapa fame, is at the helm of kitchen operations. Authenticity is the name of her game and heavenly trombones sounded when her prawns with chili, coriander and citrus dressing hit the palate of your humble narrator - authentic, fresh, light and delicious Mexican fare without any pretense. Divine.
Same goes for the libation: Tequila can be a beautiful, crafted libation that should be sipped neat from a snifter glass, rather than consumed “tequila cruda”-style, i.e. knocked back with detracting condiments like licking salt from a trail of lime.
While this might have been a bonding rite of passage of your college days, wasting tequila in that manner is borderline sacrilegious.
Patrón has specifically created a range of bespoke tequilas apart from rare and limited edition ones, which serves as the foundation for Bar Patrón to create a Tequila flavoured alternative to any cocktail you usually enjoy.
I’d go as far as to claim that a visit to Bar Patrón will convert even the most Tequila averse Scotch or Gin snob.
Bar Patrón is situated in a prime location at Circular Quay where Café Ananas resided previously and has undergone a major revamp:
Australian architect and Rockpool Group’s go-to interior designer extraordinaire Grant Cheyne, who has translated Neil Perry’s various times before, transformed the space into an Australian equivalent to a hacienda – think a beautiful marble bar against a scenic backdrop of the Sydney Harbour.
Add a 5am license and a revolving line-up of quality DJs, quality bartenders that can hold a conversation and never seem to be to busy to educate you if you find yourself trapped in indecision when it comes to ordering your next drink.