There Will Be Beer :: Hemingway’s
January 29th 2014
A Guide to Sydney’s Pub’s and Bars for Cheapskates and Drunkards
“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”
The day was bright and the bar was easy to make out. Cluttered as the street was with branded signs of the names of bars, cafes, pubs or shops; only one had an imprint of Hemingway’s mug.
Across the road the waves rolled onto the beach, people bathed in the light and swam with the tide. Stools and chairs and tables sat outside like professional greeters, awaiting the next patron’s posterior.
I knew nothing about the bar, except that it was in Manly and it bore the name of one of my favourite writers.
In all honesty, I had been entirely prepared for my disappointing expectation; that of a bar with an overly cheesy-theme, more akin to a Hard Rock Cafe’s prostitution of rock ‘n’ roll, to come to fruition. So much so that I had planned to write a cheesy review in the style of an exceptionally cheesy Hemingway eating a cheese burger.
Unfortunately, Hemingway’s is not the “crappy-bar-in-Hemingway’s-clothing” I was expecting. In fact, it seemed that the bar naming itself after Hemingway was more of an honourary gesture than a marketing ploy. Slightly relieved that it looked to be an enjoyable experience, yet disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to use my totally unique angle to write the review, I sat down and ordered a beer…
“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”
I looked over a menu both deliciously impressive and appropriately priced (which is to say the prices are in that grey area between “that was worth it!” and “was that worth it?”). It should be noted that all the food is prepared with local, organic, and free range ingredients, and everything is wonderfully tasty.
The drinks menu was stapled into various hardcover books (mine was ‘How To: Hand Craft’ – I would have thought ‘A Moveable Feast‘ would be more appropriate, but what do I know?). You’ll find a range of beers – from a toss it down VB at $3.50, to tinnies at $5, craft beers $7-9, and bottles and long necks between $9-13. As well as a very clever mix of traditional cocktails and Hemingway’s Mix ‘N’ Match (including a Gin & Mountain Dew… surprisingly yum).
The staff were friendly, sociable and happy to not only recommend stellar menu items, but also good locations to enjoy Manly.
The interior bar layout is wonderfully set up. Tables sit looking out through the front windows towards the beach, and on the wall is the only Hemingway quote in the entire building (taken from ‘The Sun Also Rises’ – which I would highly recommend reading if you haven’t gotten around to it yet). Up a few stairs, stools line the banister providing another area to look out the same windows; and further along, tables and chairs occupy the space between the bar against one wall and a library against the other (which includes some good reads and an old Scrabble board).
The stairwell at the rear of the bar will see you come face to face with Hemingway himself beaming down at you. A large seating area can be found up here, with a wonderful nook of old leather chairs and lounges, photographs adorning the wall with Hemingway writing/with his cat/with his catches (both fish and women)/conversing with Fidel Castro.
A battered typewriter is placed at the end of the benches – just incase you feel inspired to bleed onto the page.
“I drink to make other people more interesting.”
The entire bar possesses a great atmosphere: echoing both Hemingway’s home in Cuba, a small cafe he would frequent, and a bar close to where he would dock his boat. People often wonder if, when a bar/cafe/restaurant is named after someone, that person would frequent it. I don’t know if Hemingway would drink here were he still alive, but who’s to say?
Would the bar suddenly lose all its customers if a letter was found, written by Hemingway, saying, “After my death, I would just like it known that I would hate having a bar named after me“?
Hemingway’s is a great bar. Not the greatest bar by a long shot; but it’s easy to love, easy to enjoy and easy to remember. What more do you need from a bar?
Sure, if you live south of the bridge you may not feel compelled to head north just for a bar…then again, I did. (Besides, there’s a beach right next to it!) But if you do live in North Sydney and are needing a place to show off to the Southies, then you could do worse than taking them to Hemingway’s.
As the man said himself:
“An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools.”
48 North Steyne, Manly, 2095
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