Barrio Cellar, Sydney’s newest late night basement bar has opened in the CBD occupying the space that was formerly Spice Cellar.
Barrio Cellar, Sydney
Sydney’s newest Tequila Bar is the younger sibling of Barrio Chino in Kings Cross by Owners Nicole Galloway and Peter Lew and is bringing agave-based cocktails and Mexican street food until the early hours.
Bar & Seating
Herradura Private Dining Room
Barrio Cellar features an elegant private dining room accommodating 14 seated people with a set menu at $55 per person or cocktails and canapés for up to 30 people standing.
Everything with Tequila
When you follow the neon lights down the stairs from Elizabeth St, your eye is drawn to 100 different Tequilas and 40 Mezcal along the back bar. You’ll find El Jimador Tequila Reposado and Nuestra Soledad Mezcal as the house pours and prices range from $12 to $25 for a shot to sip and savour.
Siete Leguas Tequila
If you’re new to the agave category, start with Siete Leguas Blanco Tequila, a bright and zesty spirit with citrus notes and a peppery finish and the Siete Leguas Reposado, for its smoothness, gentle oak, orange and vanilla, Jeffrey Frisk General Manager at Barrio Cellar recommends.
Herradura Double Barrel Reposado
One tequila well worth mentioning is the Herradura Double Barrel Reposado Tequila, made specifically for Barrio Chino and available at Barrio Cellar. The spirit is aged for 11 months in toasted oak barrels then it spends an additional month in new oak barrel which imparts loads of vanilla, oak and flavour.
Tequila enthusiasts would appreciate the Chinaco Blanco Tequila from Tamaulipas, a state to the east of Mexico with a terroir that gives the spirit a different character than those from Jalisco. Chinaco Blanco starts soft on the nose then bursts on the palate with earthy flavours and a little roughness and lingers beautifully on the palate. By contrast, the reposado is funky on the nose and unlike most of its aged kind, it is a little harsher on the palate than the blanco.
For a special sipping tequila to end the night, El Tesoro de Don Felipe Paradiso Extra Añejo Tequila is a real treat. Aged in Cognac casks, the spirit is ultra-smooth and balances the sweetness and the wine/Cognac character along with agave flavours and oak. This is a tequila that would appeal to whisky lovers.
When it comes to Mezcal, Bruxo no 1 and no 2 feature in some of the cocktails. You’ll also find the excellent Tequila Fortaleza range, Del Maguey San Luis del Rio Mezcal and all three varieties of Mezcal Amores among many others. The highlight is the Don Amado Mezcal Rustico, a complex mezcal with gentle smoke and hint of spice on the nose leading to an initial burst of spice on the palate, followed by a good measure of smoke and a long lingering finish.
Barrio Cellar holds tequila tastings at $65 per person which includes four tastings and some bar bites from the kitchen.
Barrio Cellar Cocktails
The cocktails at Barrio Cellar have been designed to accent Tequila and Mezcal. The bar team making their own infusions such as Tromba Tequila infused with coffee beans and agave syrup and chipotle-infused Espolon Tequila.
Popular choices include the Naked Lady (strawberry-infused Agudo blanco, Cointreau, lime and bitters), Tommy’s Margarita (El Jimador Reposado, fresh lime and organic agave nectar) and Rhubarbarita (Agudo reposado, licor 43, rhubarb puree, agave, lemon and mint).
The Smokey Rose ($19) makes a good introduction to mezcal, made with Nuestra Soledad Matalan Mezcal, Sloe Gin and lemon juice, balancing fruit, sweetness and smoke in an easy sipping drink.
Carlitos Campfire ($21) takes it up a few notches with Bruxo no 1 Mezcal, Monkey Shoulder Scotch, lemon juice, ginger agave and peach. Smoke, ginger and fruit notes are well balanced on the palate, and the half rimmed glass with smoked salt brightens the drinks.
Saving the favourite till last, the Chipotle Manzana is coming soon to the cocktail menu. The drink is made with chipotle-infused Espolon Tequila, fresh apple juice, agave syrup and tamarind dust – a perfect balance of apples and agave with a touch of heat.
Another cocktail coming soon is El Rey, a take on the Manhattan with Herradura Double Barrel Reposado, Maker’s Mark, sweet vermouth, cinnamon agave, black walnut bitters and a Mezcal rinse.
Barrio Cellar Food Menu
Barrio Chino is well known for its food and its younger sibling offers a delicious choice that spans bar bites to more substantial dishes.
Start with the crisp, light and moreish Chicharron ($6), smokey chilli pork crackling with arbol mayo.
Fried Green Olives
Equally good to start are spicy balls of Fried Green Olives ($9) dipped with dulce blue cheese dip.
The Ceviche Market Fish Tostada ($12) has a zingy combination of Hiramasa Kingfish with avocado and relish, heirloom tomatoes and three types of chilli which pack a good punch.
From the Tacos menu, Hongo or mushroom ($6 each) comes with a generous filling of confit portobello mushroom and corn wrapped in grilled mozzarella and queso. It’s earthy and well worth ordering another,
while the Taco Pescado ($7 each) is another winner with a beautifully cooked piece of fish in the centre.
The Barrio Cubano ($16) is take on the Cuban Sandwich and one not to be missed if you’re hungry. It packs a filling of carnitas, double smoked ham, zucchini pickles and Swiss cheese.
If you’re into Mexican Street Style food, the Mexican Hotdog ($16) is made from premium beef and comes wrapped with streaky bacon with pico de gallo, jalapeno and queso with a side of hand cut fries. Burgers or Hamburguesas also feature on the menu.
Order a Quesadilla with a choice of filling like Pollo Tinga ($16) and you’ll get a generously-sized portion oozing with melted cheese, with avocado, crema and cilantro (coriander).
The Churros Sandwich ($10) is difficult to resist with dulce de leche ice cream wedged in between crispy churros discs, drizzled with dulce de leche.
Barrio Cellar’s kitchen is open at all hours and runs a modified menu from 11 pm which includes botanas (snacks), tacos, quesadillas, hamburguesa and hot dogs but no fries.
Whether it’s some of the finest tequila and mezcal, well-crafted cocktails or delicious food from daytime till late, Barrio Cellar is ticking all the right boxes. Add a music program curated by Rebecca Alder and Murat Kilic of Spice Cellar and a 3 am close (lockouts still apply) and you have a new Sydney bar set to become a favourite among agave lovers and night owls looking for good drinks, good food and a warm welcome.
Photography © by Kevin Burke for Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved. Contact us if you wish to purchase any photographs.
Basement Level, 58 Elizabeth St
Martin Place, Sydney 2000
Hours: Monday–Tuesday: 4pm-12am; Wednesday-Thursday: 4pm-3am; Friday: 12pm-3am; Saturday: 5pm-3am; Sunday: Closed