There Will Be Beer :: Grand Central Bar
September 11th 2012
You like a good ol tipple huh? A few crisp brewskies around the town? Our guess is you enjoy a spot o’ grog, but perhaps you don’t wanna fork out for it? FBi’s Daniel Prior can help you out. Follow his adventures on the sauce at Sydney’s best cheap watering holes in…
There Will Be Beer: A Guide to Sydney’s Pubs & Bars for Cheapskates and Drunkards
Next stop, Central Station?
Grand Central Bar & Bistro, Central Railway Station, Sydney
Adrian has a lengthy wait between trains at Central. Like most of us with time to kill, he makes for the nearest watering hole, one surprisingly not far from the platform. Dressed like a gothic detective from the 1930’s, I’ve found Adrian beer in hand at one of Sydney’s most underrated bars. Yes, a bar in Central. He explains the strange lure Grand Central Bar has on him. “It’s an hour between trains for me, so I figured I may as well fill that hour with a few beers and get to know some of the more colourful regulars.”
I’m not sure whether it was his red pony tail poking out under his black fedora, or the scorpion medals pinned to his black smoking jacket; but something about him assured me that he would understand where the real heart of the bar was to be found. “It’s the characters that make this place unique, the sort of people who wouldn’t seem out of place on Oxford St at 3am; but their being in Central at 3pm gives this whole place a different vibe.”
Central Station Bar isn’t tucked away like many of Sydney’s hidden gems, down an alleyway, behind a garage door or above a sushi train revealed only to those in the know. There’s a nice big sign saying, “Grand Central Bar & Bistro” above a big window looking into the bar. The outdoor area sits right next to the Central thoroughfare, so punters can enjoy their pint of beer (which will only set you back $6.00 on happy hour, and an extra 0.50c any other time) in the Sydney sunshine. But still, people walk past it, oblivious to the current of delicious beverages flowing not ten metres away.
Central Station Bar in itself is nothing special; it’s a bar with stools and benches inside, and chairs and tables outside. They pour beer and wine and spirits of every kind. What makes it a great bar is the characters that stumble in and out of the place. From a self-tattooing bartender named Kaptain, to an aboriginal busker who manages to work “Vegemite” into every song, to the gravel-voiced drunkard who always steals my lighters and can never keep his balance for more than four minutes. The place is just filled with characters that seem to have strayed out of a Hunter S. Thompson novel.
One of the main reasons passers-by don’t recognise Central Station Bar as a pub is because there is no puke-design carpet, no Guinness posters, or any other clichéd pub decorations; blessedly there are no televisions or pokies, for which I am bloody thankful. It’s so nice to be able to sit in the pub and just drink; not catch yourself watching ‘Days of Our Lives’ just because it’s on the telly or lose your money to the dazzling lights and siren call of the pokies. The only thing you have to put up with are the winos, hobos and weirdos that frequent the place; each of whom can be interesting and entertaining one day and as friendly as dingos are to babies the next.
On this note, it seemed odd to me that our mate Adrian, a person I would have associated with the “colourful regulars” was chatting to me as if he were on the outside looking in. Then again, I myself have become a regular to Central Station Bar, so it’s entirely likely that any other supposedly normal person would not think twice about adding me to the line up.
On occasion, you may find yourself seated amongst a wonderfully dull crowd, people who have just finished work/study for the day and wanted to enjoy a nice six dollar pint on their way home (again, pints are $6.00. Interested in going yet?). Other times, you’re bound to end up defending your spare change and cigarettes from the bums, boozers, carousers, drunkards, guzzlers, tosspots, crackpots, misfits, and nutcases that call the place their home away from the other pub they were just hauled, kicking and screaming from.
People I would gladly enjoy a drink with any day.
Grand Central Bar & Bistro
Central Railway Station, Sydney
Open 7 days
Thirsty for more? Join Daniel Prior for more Sydney libation adventures here.