The Cumberland Bar is a cosy speakeasy located on Central Avenue in Manly. This subterranean bar serves up a mean list of cocktails and Spanish style snacks in a dark, candlelit setting. And unless you know how to enter, you'd never find it!
Ivy's brow furrows as I point at the deli door. I know what she's thinking. Probably that "This girl always has to eat and she promised that we were going to a bar!". But The Cumberland is a speakeasy bar whose entrance is through a deli. The deli isn't just for show, the meats are sliced and served on their platters.
It's 5pm on a long weekend and a gorgeous night to be visiting Manly. We are the first to arrive just when they open and soon the bar will fill up by 6pm so get in early if you want a seat.
We grab a comfortable leather couch and tiny table and browse the menu. Nothing puts me in a better mood for a long weekend than cocktails and snacks.
Mr NQN's Thistle Grasshopper is understatedly pretty and intensely aniseedy, which pleases Mr NQN greatly but offers no appeal to non liquorice lovers Ivy and I. There is native thistle, absinthe, crème de menthe, orange blossom, cream and orgeat. He loves it.
Similarly intense is my Widow's Kiss with Roger Groult calvados, yellow Chartreuse, Dom Benedictine abd bitters. It is described as being served up on hand cut ice but that isn't quite true. Ivy goes for a French 75 which is light and sparkling with beefeater gin, sparkling wine and lemon.
Food-wise there are a few things on offer. Mexican nuts are a range of salted, spiced peanuts and pumpkin seeds roasted with lemon, chilli & garlic that are good albeit a bit difficult to pick up as the pieces are so small.
We saw them making the empanadas from scratch so we order some of these to share. There are three fillings: chicken and cheese, Argentinian beef and the third, spinach and cheese with a terribly good salsa verde. Sometimes empanadas can be quite dry with too much pastry but these are damn near perfect with the filling to pastry ratio. The favourite is the cheese followed by the chicken and cheese and then the Argentinian beef and spinach. And before we leave, we make plans to return.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you like places that are a bit hidden away? What puts you in a good mood?
17-19 Central Avenue, Manly, NSW
Wednesday & Thursday 5pm–late
Friday & Saturday 5pm–1am