Cocktails at Helm Bar, Darling Harbour

18 April 2012
by Phuoc

Woohoo! It’s Hump Day and only a few days until we face the weekend again. Let’s hope that the rainy weather clears so we can enjoy the time for some relaxation and unwind after a stressful week; preferably with a drink in hand and doing absolutely nothing.  A while ago I was invited to Helm Bar to try out some of their newest cocktails. Mind you, I felt a little naughty as most of these drinks were had before midday…

There were some dreary faces among us that morning, we start with an Espresso Martini ($17). Made with Smirnoff vodka, vanilla syrup and a shot of coffee and shaken furiously to form a crema-esque foam. With just the right amount of caffeine and sweetness in this cocktail, it surely was what we needed to recharge our batteries.

Now that we’ve already made friends with alcohol this early in the morning, it was thought that we should move on to the next drink, which was to contain tequila. Ahhhhh tequila… How your name reminds me of dreadful memories of the past. The thought of you makes me want to gag sometimes. With trepidation, I only took a tiny sip of the Senorita margarita ($16). Surprisingly, the mixture of Jose Cuervo Tradicional, St Germain (an elderflower liqueur), lemon and lime juice and agave syrup was nice as the tequila flavour wasn’t dominating the others.

Now we move on to some of the drinks from the new cocktail list. Matt (the bartender) tells us that the inspiration for some of these drinks come from the things he loves. Possibly my favourite drink of the day was the Sexy Saint ($18). Made with a secret homemade blend of chilli, honey and lemon juice, it was shaken with St Germain for an extra hint of sweetness. As you sip on this drink, you’ll first notice a slight tingling sensation in your mouth, but you can’t put the drink down because it starts to become addictive, and then before you know it, the fiery kick starts to warm your entire body.

We all know that vegetables are good for you right? Well let that be your excuse when you have a few Ginny Hendricks ($18). Hendricks gin and Aperol was muddled with cucumber, lime juice and a sugar syrup, strained and topped with ruby red grapefruit juice. This was such a refreshing drink, it actually made me feel good about drinking this (don’t start calling AA on me now…)

The Oriental sweet tart ($17) was shaken with Plymouth Gin, Paraiso (a lychee liqueur), a pear liqueur, lemon juice and orgeat (almond) syrup. It was a little on the sweet side, which I didn’t mind so much but it could be a dangerous thing as you can’t really taste the alcohol in this at all, and if you are a little like me, you’ll probably end up having a few of these before you realise what hit you.

The last and final cocktail is currently unnamed; this being due to the fact that Helm Bar are holding a name-this-cocktail competition on their Facebook page, where the winner wins a $100 Helm Bar voucher. To enter, click here. Each entry receives a free cocktail. How good is that?! This concoction is made with Smirnoff citrus-flavoured vodka, Diasronno Originale (an almond liqueur), passionfruit juice and lime juice. I found that almond was the dominating flavour in this drink and it was easy to drink.

Now all this drinking has definitely worked up an appetite. We move on to have lunch overlooking the views of Cockle Bay Wharf.

To start off, a plate of Peking duck pancakes and various antipasto items such as lavosh, double smoked ham off the bone, spicy salami, Tasmanian Brie, cornichons, olives and walnuts, were shared. I particularly enjoyed the pieces of ham studded with mustard seeds and who can ever fault the delectable bliss of soft and creamy brie? Despite looking a little out-of-place among the antipasto, the Peking duck pancakes were delish.

Crispy tempura prawns were a match made in heaven with the wasabi mayonnaise; which, thankfully, wasn’t too overpowering. I could see myself having a big bowl of this to myself. The chicken chimichangas featured shredded chicken which was a little dry, I felt it almost resembled the texture of tinned tuna, each individual roll was topped with a dollop of guacamole which had a little spicy kick to it.

The following two dishes are presented to us as bite-sized versions of the mains that are on the menu. Here we have the miniature version of the grilled fish of the day; which was smoked salmon with crushed kipfler potato, topped with a salsa of fennel, olive, tomato and chilli. Although they were well presented, there was a slight disappointment with this dish. It was served lukewarm and there was just something missing in the dish to give it an extra bit of jazz, a little squeeze of lemon juice seemed to do the trick.

The chargrilled Black Angus sirloin steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare, making it incredibly tender and paired magically with the irresistible café de paris butter. I’d definitely come back to order a larger serving of this dish.

A bowl of salt and pepper squid is sure to go down well if done well, and it is pretty good here. With a moreish crunchy outer layer, the soft and tender pieces of squid were either bathed with aioli and a Thai-inspired dipping sauce of fish sauce, chilli and lime.

For an extra dose of carbs, we dig into warm, crusty garlic bread and perfectly cooked potato wedges with the obligatory sour cream and sweet chilli sauce.

With casual and relaxed vibes filling the air as people enjoyed soaking up the views and catching up with friends and family or watching various sporting games on the tv, I couldn’t help but think this would be a great place to a nibble on something whilst having a drink or two.

Phuoc and guest dined at Helm Bar courtesy of Helm Bar and Wasamedia.

Helm Bar on Urbanspoon

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9 Comments

  1. Tina @ bitemeshowme

    All those cocktails before 12pm? You legend! Haha at least you had all that delicious looking food to munch on thereafter!

  2. Jacq

    Hehe I’m not judging coz as you know I probably drank more than you before midday lol. Good to see you again Phuoc!

  3. Ladybird

    Is it wrong to be craving a cocktail before 9am? Your pictures are making me kinda thirsty ;P

  4. excusemewaiter

    helm bar actually looks pretty good! i always walk past at cockle bay wharf and haven’t been in before…i like the sound of the oriental cocktail and those canapes (esp the peking duck pancake) look delicious!

  5. SarahKate (Mi Casa-Su Casa)

    I love the sound of that margarita! I’m actually a fan of tequila so that drink looks tasty as. And the food doesn’t look half bad either.

  6. Phuoc

    Tina: Haha yes.. It was much needed

    Jacq: lol that is true. Likewise, always good to see a familar face at these kind of things :)

    Ladybird: lol not at all..

    Excusemewaiter: I was the same, kept walking past an never knew what to expect. Was quite surprised to find good food and drinks.

    SarahKate: I don’t know how you do it, you can have my share of the drink!

  7. Vivian - vxdollface

    Love your shot of the table overlooking the water :) was good seeing you again! x

  8. Sara (Belly Rumbles)

    I like the look of the ‘yet to be named’ cocktail. Really was an early start to be taste testing cocktails, but they all looked good. Thank goodness they fed you all :P

  9. Phuoc

    Vivian: Thanks! Was good to see you again :)

    Sara: lol Yes indeed, but I made the mistake of driving to this event so I didn’t drink as much

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