The Victoria Room, Darlinghurst: Cocktails in a Bygone Era

The energy behind the bar is palpable. This is my first impression of The Victoria Room after ascending the dark steps from Victoria Street in Darlinghurst.

Opulently decorated in British-Raj style, the Victoria Room with its discreet entrance occupies the first floor above a bottle shop. The atmosphere on Saturday night is stylish with an ebb and flow of elegantly dressed patrons shuffling from the bar to the coveted seating area with dark leather lounges, ornate cushions and old-style lampshades.

The Victoria Room, Darlinghurst
Interior of the Victoria Room

There are couples enjoying an intimate drink and small groups of friends assembled around cocktails. The ambient music is a little boisterous for such olde-world surrounds but not enough that you have to shout to be heard.

The action behind the bar is dizzying with bartenders frantically, mixing, shaking, stirring, and pouring while providing a personalised service.

The Victoria Room, Darlinghurst

The cocktail list echoes a bygone era of the British empire with cocktails divided into Prologue, the first tipple of the evening designed to whet the appetite, The Main Act, with bold spirits and Epilogue, a selection to be enjoyed after dinner. The Victoria Room Favourites and the Cocktail Enthusiasts lists take the drinks into serious territory with drinks such as Zombie and Burnt Fuselage.

The teetotaller among us who has graciously offered to drive when Mr G couldn’t make it opts for the English Rose ($11), a non alcoholic drink made with mint, rose syrup, cranberry and lime juice to cut through the sweetness, elegantly served with a rose petal.

The special cocktail tonight is a Sicilian Summer Highball ($16), made with gin, Florio Amaro with homemade raspberry lemonade  a light and refreshing mix to which my friend takes an immediate liking.

The Victoria Room, Darlinghurst

Though comprehensive, the cocktail list leaves me undecided. With my recent liking for full-bodied cocktails such as those I had at Eau-de-Vie Bar and Emmilou Tapas Bar, I decide to go Omakase, meaning Chef’s Choice in Japanese and ask the bartender for a strong cocktail that is rich in flavour.

“Not a lady’s drink,” I hasten to add.

The Victoria Room, Darlinghurst
Cuban Blazer in the making

He pours Havana Club Añejo 7 Años Rum into a brandy glass, adds Grand Marnier then balances it over a tumbler filled with hot water. He adds caster sugar, sets it alight and I watch the flame dance in the glass. Once it subsides, he adds Angostura orange bitters, lemon and orange zest and covers the glass with a napkin.

The Victoria Room, Darlinghurst
Cuban Blazer

I lift the napkin on my Cuban Blazer ($20) and breathe in. The fumes seduce my nostrils. The aromas from the rum and citrus deliver a strong kick, a prelude to the first sip. The drink is warming and fragrant. I can easily go for another.

The Victoria Room, Darlinghurst
(L to R) Cuban Blazer, Sicilian Summer Highball, English Rose

The Victoria Room, Darlinghurst

For those wanting nibbles with their drinks, The Victoria Room offers bar food which includes a charcuterie board ($18), pork rillettes ($17), polenta chips with grated truffle pecorino cheese ($11) and a sweet option of chocolate and hazelnut mousse with crisp biscotti ($16).

The Victoria Room, Darlinghurst
The Victoria Room

Dinner is available in the restaurant section with supper being served on Fridays and Saturdays between 11pm and 2am.  The Victoria Room also pays homage to another British tradition. High Tea served on Saturdays from 12.00pm and 5.00pm and Sundays from 1.00pm to 5.00pm.

I find it a little difficult to gauge the true ambience of the Victoria Room on Saturday night. The exotic and old style setting in which to enjoy a drink deserves a less hurried pace and not so frantic ambient music. I make a mental note to return mid-week.

The Victoria Room
Level 1, 235 Victoria Street
Darlinghurst 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.