Forty Licks: underground Vietnamese cocktail bar and restaurant to land in Sydney

16 April, 2019 by Tam Allenby

(Image credit: Chris Chen)

Forty Licks, a modern Vietnamese restaurant and cocktail bar, will open its doors in a basement on York Street in Sydney’s CBD later this month.

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Head chef Joel Manton has joined forces with prominent Sydney restaurateur Tony Mowad to bring the venue to life, with the pair also enlisting the help of award-winning bartender Kurtis Bosley to look after the drinks menu.

Bosley has created an eclectic Vietnamese-inspired cocktail list for Forty Licks; for example, the Red Lotus – combining Secco Vermouth, Calvados, amaro, lemon, bitters and Bird’s Nest – or the Hanoi Sour, featuring bourbon, ginger liqueur, Chichi Morada, lemon and pecan bitters.

Manton’s food menu will feature a variety of traditional Vietnamese dishes with a modern twist, covering both small and larger-style plates.

Menu items will include braised eggplant and tofu with turmeric; sizzling kingfish and noodles in the style of Chả Cá Lã Vọng; and a steaming hot bowl of Bún bò Huế – the lesser-known but equally delicious cousin of crowd favourite Phở.

“The food comes from my years as a chef living in Vietnam, our shared love of the cuisine, and of course strong family ties with Vietnam where my wife is from and where we’ve raised our young children,” says Manton.

“We want to show people something beyond Phở and rice paper rolls, by adding another dimension to the great Vietnamese food around the city and the suburbs.”

Utilising existing architectural elements of the heritage building, design company GSBN Studio have worked with the team at Forty Licks to create a 75-seat venue that encompasses a dining room, bar and raised seated dining areas that mimic the tiered formations of the Vietnamese rice paddies.

Forty Licks is located at 24 York Street and will open on 30 April, with trading hours Monday-Friday, 11am-late.