The Smoking Panda, Sydney

Kitsch, fusion and cocktail theatrics come together at Sydney’s newest small bar, The Smoking Panda.

Located above the Hotel Coronation on Park Street, the pink neon-lit venue brings a fusion of a retro Chinese restaurant with a touch of LA to Sydney’s CBD. Dark wood, Chinese lantern lights, exposed brickwork, timber beaded curtains and an illuminated fish tank with jellyfish give the bar a quirky feel while a neon ‘Malboro’ sign gives a nod to the past and a desert scape mural sits on top of the impressive bar.

But make no mistake. This is no pub masquerading as a small bar. The Smoking Panda has one of the largest spirit selections. The back bar has over 65 bourbons, 50 rums as well as a solid range of whisky and tequila.

Photography © by Kevin Burke for Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.

The cocktail list has been curated by renowned mixologist Grant Collins and features a range of House Specials, Tropical and American Classics with Twists. The cocktails are in theme with the kitsch fusion of Americana and Asiana. Theatrics play a part of the drinking experience with signature cocktails such as the Smokin’ Shake ($17), made with vanilla vodka, strawberry liqueur, fresh strawberry, house made rum & vanilla ice cream, and the Smoked Whiskey Sour ($18) with cherry-soaked bourbon, sweet & sour, fresh citrus and cherry smoke.

The Hot Smokin’ Mexican Jerk ($17) is a palate primer, hot and spicy, made with a mix of smoked silver tequila, chipotle, adobo, agave, fresh ginger, fresh lime, beef jerky and crispy bacon. Some cocktails come in unusual drink vessels such as the Old & Spiced ($17), made with aged spiced rum, Chinese 5 spice, housemade ginger beer, candied ginger and served on a classic Old Spice shaving mug, and the Dragon Lime Colada ($17) comes in a takeaway container.

The bar team include Bar Manager, Geoff Owens (ex W Hotel in Leicester Square in London, Manta restaurant) and Assistant Bar Manager, Clément Martin (ex The Victoria Room) and if theatrics and fusion aren’t to your taste, the skilled bartenders can craft a drink to your liking.

The bar food menu created by chef Danny Russo takes classic suburban Chinese restaurants food and applies a modern take. Think Steamed XO Soft Shell Crab Slider with Asian Slaw, Chairman’s Wings’ with Chinese BBQ Sauce (3 for $9), Prawn Har Gow with Maggi Seasoning (3 for $11) which you pick up with a Chork (double-ended fork/chopsticks) and the sticky sweet, finger-licking Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs ($16). Leave room for the Black Sesame Panna Cotta ($9) or the Fried Green Tea Ice Cream ($9) with white chocolate & wolfberry sauce.

From the kitsch décor and fusion food and drink to the split personality Chork, The Smoking Panda makes a good first impression. It’s a small bar built on a theme which you could take or leave. Don’t overthink it. Just immerse yourself in the theatre and fun, or go for more serious drinking.

The Smoking Panda is a fun bar that takes its cocktails and drinks seriously. With a 24 hour license, a fusion of share plates, a solid range of bourbon and bartenders who know their craft, you’d easily forget you’re above a traditional pub, near Town Hall station.

The Smoking Panda is featured on our guide to Sydney’s Best Bourbon Bars.

The Smoking Panda
The Hotel Coronation
5-7 Park Street Sydney NSW

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is a drinks writer, author of GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN, SHRUBS & BOTANICAL SODAS and founder/editor of Gourmantic, Cocktails & Bars and The Gourmantic Garden. She has been writing extensively about spirits, cocktails, bars and cocktail gardening in more recent years. She is a spirits and cocktail competition judge, Icons of Whisky Australia nominee, contributor to Diageo Bar Academy, cocktail developer and is named in Australian Bartender Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential List. Her cocktail garden was featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia and has won several awards. She is a contributor to Real World Gardener radio program and is featured in several publications including Pip Magazine, Organic Gardener, Australian Bartender and Breathe (UK). Read the full bio here.