Down on Cleveland Street, a bit past where it's fashionable to wander, you'll find Vasco – a shopfront bar that's been doing its thing for a little while now. And its thing is stellar cocktails, hearty Italian-inspired eats and plenty of rock 'n' roll.
Max Greco is at the helm of Vasco. He used to work at Eau-De-Vie (arguably Sydney's best cocktail bar), and with Vasco he's created a jumping saloon which pays homage to famous rockers. Indeed, the bar is named for Vasco Rossi – an Italian singer-songwriter who has recorded 26 albums. Framed records cover the walls in the front room, which houses the bar and some tables and stools, while out the back, a little open-air annex with lounges allows a glimpse of the night sky beyond the twinkling of blue fairy lights.
To drink, there are cans and bottles of beer – the selection changes regularly so ask what they've got. The wine list varies also, but usually has a couple of interesting Italian numbers on it. Cocktail-wise, you can order things like a Lucy in the Sky (vodka, blood-cherry liqueur, pineapple syrup, grapes and lemon), a Witchy Woman (rum, yellow Chartreuse, hibiscus, fresh pineapple and tiki bitters), and a Hendrix Experience (gin, Lillet Blanc, aromatic syrup, Fragolino).
They're also dishing out some serious eats to soak up all of those cocktails. Start off with some bruschetta, calamari fritti or polenta chips with gorgonzola sauce. Lucy's Italian-style hot dog with chips is seriously good, while heartier eats like traditional Italian slow-cooked stew and gnocchi alla bolognese should also hit the spot.
Vasco is simple and fun. All comers are welcomed heartily and the folks behind the bar really know their stuff. And if you're a rock fan, or a fan of seriously well-executed cocktails, you're going to want to pull up a stool and settle in for a good long while.