Review: Grain Bar at Four Seasons – The Rocks (Sydney)

Four Seasons is one of the most recognised luxury accommodation properties in all of Sydney, and with them now housing Mark Best’s acclaimed Pei Modern, it makes sense for them to up their game when it comes to their Whisky-loving Grain. Situated off George Street and right near The Rocks, the warm, welcoming bar has become one of the city’s most well-stocked and well-known Whisky bars, with a strong focus on both single malts and blends from around the world and local, dedicated to growing their collection which is already 180 deep.

The interior is steeped in wood and timber finishes, reflecting a moody amber glow with purple hues that strike the bar and make it look like some neo-noir drinking den, an aesthetic which is only really dragged when you turn around and realise you’ve still just walked off of George Street.

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Those who want to explore the incredibly diverse and eye-opening world of Whisky can do so here, with bartenders who are ready, willing, and able to assist you on that journey. Better yet, every Monday the bar deems ‘Whisky Mondays’ with a generous 20% off all Whisky and only $30 for a Whisky flight featuring your choice of 4 Whiskies. It’s then necessary for both newcomers and seasoned vets to take an hour or two out of there day and just pull up a stool by the bar, shooting through the many selections until they discover their new favourite.

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Of course, there’s a healthy list of local craft beers and wines, as well as a few imports, to offer some diversity but the essential order is most definitely a Whisky or a Whisky cocktail. The staff are more than willing to make suggestions here, especially when it comes to helping you craft a Whisky flight that actually makes sense and offers some diversity; they’ll just as happily leave you to your own devices and let you pick your own though!

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On my visit, a flight of two Glenmorangie expressions, an intriguing Pinot Noir-finished Whisky from Hellyers Road, and the very popular Nikki Whisky from the Barrel made up my favourite flight, bringing in a variety of smoked, sweetened, and vibrant drams to pair up with some of the worthwhile bar food on offer.

Being a hotel with a particularly high repute, Four Seasons have made sure that their bar food is up to scratch here and you’ll find everything from gourmet burgers and charcuterie to Whisky-cured salmon and maple bourbon stuffed cronuts here.

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It’s advisable to start off with the Charcuterie Platter ($26) of bresaola, proscuitto, sobrasada, and pickles, with or the Smokey Meats Platter ($38) with wagyu brisket, lamb ribs, pork belly, and sweet buns if you’re with a larger group. If you just have one or two other people to share with then go for the Whisky-Cured Salmon ($14) and the Salt & Pepper Squid ($16) with sriracha mayo.

grainburger

For those a bit hungrier and wanting to double their Whisky tastings up with a more substantial dinner should not look over the Grain Burger ($24), which is a generously sized creation with thick maple bacon, Whisky onion jam, gruyere cheese, and a medium-rare patty. Soft, juicy, and rich from the gooey, melted cheese mixing up with the honeyed bacon. There’s also the Rangers Valley Minute Steak ($28) with bourbon butter and super-sized onion rings. The onion rings might be lacking in salt so make sure you ask for a shaker, but the steak is beautiful, served at just the right temperature and absorbing the flavour from the bourbon butter well.

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Dessert brings a choice between platters of Cheese, an indulgent Peanut Butter & Espresso Ice Cream Sandwich ($10), or several mid-sized Maple Bourbon Stuffed Cronuts ($7 for around 6). The cronuts are nice enough, soft and melt-in-your-mouth but lacking the richness of, what I would assume, something like an ice cream sandwich so it really depends on whether you’re in the mood for something super sweet or just light enough to wash all that meat away with dessert.

Hotel bars in Sydney have seen a sweeping resurgence in the past year or two, with an improved small bar scene requiring hotel’s to seriously re-think the late-night drinking option available to their many local and international guests. Grain is one of the better ones in Sydney, and it holds it’s own against other Whisky bars, surpassing most in ambiance and offering a good, comprehensive experience; more than enough to put this one on your to-do list, particularly if you’re interested in exploring the Whiskies of the world.

Grain

Address: Four Seasons Hotel; 199 George Street, Sydney
Contact: 02 9250 3114
Hours: Monday to Saturday; 10am-1am