Kids and alcohol - never the twain shall meet, unless you happen to be a cocktail loving parent of young children. It never occurred to us how difficult it would be to go out and explore a city's cocktail scene if you had children with you until we had to show around a friend visiting Sydney from overseas who had young kiddies in tow with him. Although impeccably behaved (thanks largely to the iPad) at 5 and 7 years of age, we struggled to find places that would even accept children in their midst that weren't RSLs, pubs or hotels. What we learnt? Generally, places with restaurant licenses are fine though even then, kids cannot sit or be at the bar itself. And thank God for Merivale. So where did we go? Here's a roundup of 5 places where kids are welcomed (to a degree - see comment about about children and alcohol mixing)
A restaurant at its heart, this Viking den also boasts a first rate cocktail bar that is a destination in itself. Although you wouldn't be able to sit at the bar counter with kids, you can still take full advantage of the cocktail menu if you book a table at the restaurant. The welcome shots of mead from mini drinking horns add a theatrical flair to the whole thing (fill the children's drinking vessels with water and you can still skal with them) which coupled with its suitably impressive decor, can still wow the kids into submission.
Although children aren't actually allowed inside the bar itself, what most people don't know is that cocktail loving adults can sit on the tables/chairs outside and still partake of the full Asian inspired cocktail menu whilst the children play on the makeshift lawn in that stretch just outside Koi Dessert Bar. Order an excellent looking tart from Koi, find one of the seats outside the adjacent Monkey's Corner bar and forget your child minding woes with a pandan flavoured tiki drink. All the while looking over your kids playing in a largely pedestrianised zone (there are still a few cars about so watch out)
Whilst most of Merivale's venues are probably kid friendly bar a few, we're singling out CP for the kid friendly zone out back complete with giant sized board games that keep Michael Junior happily entertained whilst Michael Senior enjoys an alcoholic beverage on a table nearby. It's a great pit stop if you're doing the Bondi to Coogee walk (we suggest finishing at Coogee just in time for lunch if you can manage it) plus the kids will thank you. Newport Arms on the Northern Beaches have something similar too.
OK, so this is a true blue bar through and through. And a tiki rum loving bar at that. If you're a tiki rum loving geek, you might want to know you can come here with kids if you have them though we suggest you ring ahead. Weeknights before 8 pm are best because really, when the bar is busy, it isn't a great experience for kids anyway to be jostling for space with and fielding death stares from Joe from finance and Mary from HR. Otherwise, the colourful and cocktail creations are bound to make both Pa and kid happy (the latter from playing with the cocktail umbrella and whatever paraphernalia comes with the drink) and the cheerful bar staff will definitely not make you feel like a failed parent for wanting to enjoy a drink with your child in tow. (hands up, you've ALL been there right??)
Ok, so this is really more a restaurant with an adjoining bar that seems more a holding ground for waiting diners rather than a destination bar proper, but when you've got Dr Phil Gandevia (ex Eau de Vie) behind the stick, trust us, you will want to visit the bar in itself. Park yourself in a booth, order up some nibbles and let Dr Phil serve you some of the best cocktails this side of town from one of the most eclectic back bars we've seen.
If you're angling to get into Bulletin Place but are hampered by the kiddies, do the next best thing and head over to their sister venue Dead Ringer in Surry Hills. Grab a table on the verandah and although you won't get the full BP daily changing cocktail menu, the BP emphasis on fresh is best is still evident in the food and drinks menu. Cocktails are equally as skilful so you won't be missing out.
Yes, on the outset, it looks more like an Italian joint but what people don't know is that the bar boasts some pretty serious heavy hitting bar talent, in the guise of Andrea Gualdi, ex Artesian Bar in London (yes, that same Artesian that was voted World's Best Bar three years running). Again, you won't be able to sit at the bar but when you can order off the same cocktail menu, trust us, it's a small price to pay for the #ehlamadonna life.
Are there any other kid friendly places you've been to you think is worthy of a mention? Let us know in the comments below!