Mar 30, 2017

THE AUSTRALIAN: Sydney’s Sin City, Kings Cross, is emerging from the wreckage of the state’s controversial lockout laws with a new culture of underground boutique wine bars and pop-up eateries.

From gin joints down abandoned laneways, to whisky bars concealed behind unmarked doors, the area is experiencing a renaissance as young entrepreneurs reimagine spaces in a suburb long known as a red-light district.

Staff at the Equilibrium ­graph­ic design company have joined forces to launch a book offering an insight into the rebirth of the area from the perspective of bar owners, chefs and baristas.

Creative director Bec Paton said the idea came about after she witnessed the devastating effect of the lockout laws, introduced in March 2014, which banned many bars and pubs in Kings Cross from admitting anyone after 1.30am.

Locals complained that foot traffic was cut significantly, for­cing many businesses to close.

“There has been a lot of really negative discourse around Kings Cross, particularly since the lockout laws,” Ms Paton said. “But the Cross is growing up and is starting to become a centre of gastronomy and mixology. It is a really tight-knit, village-style community.”

The book, Naughty x Nice: Recipes + Stories from Kings Cross, Sydney, explores the sordid history­ of the Cross and examines the new night-life emerging in its place.

“We all live and work in the area so we selected some of our favourite bars and cafes and interviewed them about their perceptions about how the Cross is changing,” Ms Paton said. Each venue has also contributed a ­recipe that reflects their love of the area, including a reimagined pina colada from The Roosevelt. Originally owned by infamous gangster Abe Saffron, The Roosevelt was one of the jewels of King Cross in the 1940s, hosting Sammy Davis Jr, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra.

Today, the exclusive cocktail bar, owned by hospitality mogul Sven Almenning, has a different look but operates under its origina­l name in a homage to “its ­famous forebears”.

“We consider the latest wave of bars and restaurants are contributing to a newer social history, and some of them have really ­interesting food and drink philosophies,” Ms Paton said.

“The owner of an Indian rest­aurant called Malabar was a chemist, and is interested in cooking Indian cuisine in really ­nutritional and healthy ways, which his customers love.”

According to Ms Paton, the characters in the book perfectly ­illustrate a fresh new feel for Kings Cross.

“The lockout laws have been devastating for business and night-life, but there are still really interesting things happening, and people have been extremely ­entrepreneurial in the area to give the Cross new life,” she said.

Originally published in The Australian