Sydney craft beer bar Bitter Phew is opening a new watering hole on the ground floor of their award-winning Oxford Street venue which, alongside wines, cocktails and food, will exclusively serve its own branded beers on tap and in cans.

Called Hank’s, it will open on Wednesday 20 October as hospitality in New South Wales reignites from this coming Monday after the state reached the 70 per cent target of the eligible population having received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Licensee Aaron Edwards, whose Bitter Phew bar won Beer & Brewer’s Best Beer Venue in 2017 and 2020, said Hank’s will bring back the “neighbourhood bar, whilst offering new perspectives on food, ingredients, and the way we consume them”.

“The idea of a good neighbourhood bar sometimes doesn’t get the attention it deserves. There is something romantic about the idea of a regular space that people spend time socialising… creating that space for people to feel at home” Aaron said.

“Oxford Street, or the Darlinghurst area, is definitely lacking bars that by definition would be called a neighbourhood bar. Most of it is food-centric, with not many places where you can just get a beer and have some food and relax.”

Hank’s own beers – the First Round Pale Ale and the Shotgun Lager – are brewed under contract but also in collaboration with Sydney brewery Akasha. Aaron said the Pale Ale is “a hybrid between a Pacific Ale and an American Pale Ale” and features a hop line-up of Mosaic, Galaxy, Simcoe and Amarillo. The lager is currently in the pilot phase.

The Pale Ale is also being sold by the case in select bottle shops, online with Beer Cartel and via an in-house delivery service. Complementing the beers will be a wine list focused on minimal intervention, sustainably farmed varieties with a smattering of international examples while cocktails will showcase local spirits producers.

The concept of Hank’s food offering is about “good food keeping people fed” with pizza the main attraction – with the classics sharing the menu with some new styles, such as a Nduja, ricotta, kale and honey option. A number of bar snacks will also be on offer with deep-fried pickled artichokes, “Venetian-style” meatballs, octopus salad and a large cut of meat just some of what will be on offer.

Alongside readying Hank’s for its unveiling, Aaron said there was “excitement and anxiety” around preparing Bitter Phew to welcome on-site patrons again from next week.

“We’ve been locked up for four months. Some of us haven’t even talked to more than about three or four people at any great length. So there’s a level of this being the great unknown and it’s almost a feeling of opening a bar for the first time. Will they still like us?”

Hank’s is at 137 Oxford St, Darlinghurst and when open will trade Wednesday to Saturday, 5pm to midnight with a capacity of 60 patrons (depending on restrictions).

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