Photography by Cantina OK
Words by Jane Ryan on 10-Jan-2020
Council Place, Sydney, NSW, 2000, Australia
Website: View bar's website
Hours: Mon-Sun 16:00-02:00
Style: Cocktail bar
Recommended for: Cocktails, Fun/atmosphere, Late night, Spirits
Price guide: Middling
Owned by: Alex Dowd and Jeremy Blackmore
When travelers think of Sydney bars it's often big corporate-owned waterside venues which snarl at open shoes and uncollared shirts. Cantina OK is here to prove we've finally left 2004 behind us.
Sandals, cowboy hats, ripped jeans and ball gowns are all welcomed into this tiny alley way bar, a micro-mezcal mecca if you will, that is housed in a garage off Clarence Street. A garage that would probably struggle to fit anything larger than a Toyota Corolla, it's worth mentioning. Yet crammed inside that space is the best opening Sydney has ever seen in terms of soul, passion and agave. The walls are stacked with mezcal and tequila, it's standing-room only and the bartenders are fast and friendly.
Owned by the agave enthusiasts that gave us Tio's Cerveceria, the space imbues that same sense of warmth and hospitality. It's all dusty-pink and pine hues, scattered limes and up-close service. On a summer night the hot cramped corners make the icy Margaritas taste even better. In the winter a lick of carefully sourced mezcal, bought back to Australia by the team here, who decant it into water bottles for the journey from the towns and villages of Mexico, will warm you from the windpipe down.
At Cantina OK you're constantly in the way of bartenders and other guests, but no one is being pushy. Drop by, lean against the bar and chat mezcal if you're so inclined. Or order one of their rotating inventions which hero whatever's fresh and complements agave's myriad flavours and embrace the dynamic spirits coming from Mexico that doesn't always – but sometimes why not – require a lime and some salt.