Ramblin Rascal Tavern
Photography by diffordsguide.com
Words by Samantha Teague on 27-Apr-2021
199 Elizabeth Street, Sydney, NSW, 2000, Australia
Website: View bar's website
Hours: Mon-Wed 16:00-00:00, Thu-Sat 16:00-02:00, Sun Closed
Style: Cocktail bar
Recommended for: Cocktails, Fun/atmosphere, Late night, Music, Spirits
Price guide: Middling
Owned by: Charlie Lehmann
There's only one place in Sydney where you'll find a horse head mask, an inflatable sex doll, a lucha libra mask and an Aboriginal flag all in one room, and it's at Ramblin Rascal Tavern. Opened in 2014 by Charlie Lehmann, Dardan Shervashidze and Sebastian Soto - whose recognisable noggins star in the bar's tri-skull logo - the CBD spot is a self-proclaimed "five-star dive bar". It's a bar that doesn't take itself too seriously, but is serious about the comfort of its varied guests. There are free sanitary items in the bathrooms, alcohol-free Heaps Normal beers on the list and a no-nonsense slogan of "don't be a dick".
While not immediately obvious, Ramblin Rascal Tavern is also a cognac bar and still lays claim to the biggest collection in the Southern Hemisphere. But that's not strictly why Sydneysiders flock to the subterranean spot. They come here to smash $6 shit tinnies in the well-worn banquettes, to watch live music (every Thursday and monthly on Wednesday and Saturday) from the homely couch and to chew the fat at the bar while snacking on corn nuts (here, understandably, referred to as "crack nuts"). If you want to get serious about cognac, however, you can.
You could drop $100s on a nip of something aged or try a brandy in one the bar's signature creations. When we visited, cocktails included the sweet and unctuous Butters, made with butter-washed Hennessy, banana and sherry, and the Beez Dick with chamomile Hennessy, lemon and honey - a drink that you could be forgiven for drinking in place of a Lemsip or Butter Menthol. The list isn't restricted to cognac-based drinks, either. You'll also find a mandarin vermouth spritz and a zippy pear and fino sherry highball, as well as a modest selection of Australian-made beers and minimal-intervention wines.
Celebrating its seventh birthday just a few weeks ago [April 2021], Ramblin Rascal Tavern is comfortable in its graffiti-covered skin and so are its guests, which is reflected in the reliable row of regulars lining the bar each night - sinking tins below the incongruous collection of paraphernalia hanging above. Oh, look, a flamingo. You'll spot something new every time.