Drinking with the AU: The Terrace Bar (Newcastle)

Though we're now spoilt for choice with a cocktail / small bar scene in Sydney and Melbourne, many other cities around Australia have yet to embrace the trend. But as bartenders/bar owners travel around Australia and see the popularity of such an experience, it's only natural that they will start popping up elsewhere. Enter The Terrace Bar, a not-so-small Cocktail bar in Newcastle. The two level venue includes a DJ room, two bars, a band room and a rooftop section. Though you wouldn't know it from the outside. Blink and you'll walk straight past it...

The owner of the venue, Chris Hearn, has a background in the music scene as a musician, so the venue's choice to incorporate music is a natural fit. The stripped back decor is straight out of the bars that have popped up over Sydney and Melbourne, with the goal to create a space that feels intimate enough to be your living room, but spacious enough to hold plenty of your newest friends. And attracting an older clientele - they even close up shop on Wednesdays (uni night) - it's the exact sort of bar that Newcastle has been craving.

I enjoyed three cocktails while I was there: Firstly, there was the St Castillo, which you can see pictured in the taller glass; a take on the classic Gin and Tonic. Featuring Beefeater Gin, St Germaine elderflower liquor, topped off with lemon and pineapple juice, as well as some tonic water, this was my favourite drink of the night. Simple yet complex, and not too sweet, it should agree with any palate.

Next there was the Caipriuva, made of Cachaca, a Brazilian sugar cane rum, served with muddled limes and grapes. This was a much stronger flavour, though certainly a unique one. It's a powerful rum with a healthy kick served by the accompanied fruits. Rum drinkers should definitely give this one a try.

Finally there was the Diablo Sour, a take on the traditional Whiskey Sour, with Mezcal and Cassis De Dijon, served with lime juice and ginger beer. This one was not for me, with a smokey flavour that I've never been a huge fan of. Those who do love their smokey whiskeys, however, should definitely find themselves more at home than I did - it's otherwise a great blend.

The cocktails are as interesting as they are unique, which may turn off the more routine cocktail drinkers (I imagine that's the point), but I'm assured the bartenders will happily make you any classics or off-the-menu items, too. And there are also affordable cocktail jugs for those with a group of friends looking to get the night started. And for those who aren't cocktail drinkers, there is a phenomenal selection of craft beers and ciders.

A little fun fact about the history of the venue: it used to be called The Gunfighter's Rest, which was hugely popular in the 80s, though the site has lay abandoned for some 10 years. The Gunfighter's was renowned for cocktail drinks like the Snake Bite with Dry Ice and for attracting a dedicated clientele. We'd love to hear some of their stories...

Where? The Terrace Bar is located at 529 Hunter St (btw Union & Auckland Sts).

Photos by Johnny Au. Words by Larry Heath.