What a difference a day makes

On the other entrance of Sydney Harbour Marriott, there is a bar that is constantly packed, even when the world was grappled with Covid-19.

To be fair and set things in context, it’s the last day of Feb 2020 and one month before it’s called a pandemic. I was on my final legs of my regular travels, the next stop was Tokyo. Tonight was my last night out in Sydney, and its FRIDAY!!!!! TGIF!!!

Glorious summer in Sydney

Everyone was hearing the news about Covid-19 like it will never hit the shores of Australia. So far everything has been “China, China, China”, so the awareness was not there. But I digressed. Back to the Three Bottle Man Bar.

Three Bottle Man Bar @ Sydney

The name of new CBD bar Three Bottle Man, opened late March 2017, comes from William Pitt, the late 18th-century British prime minister (the youngest ever) who famously always carried three bottles with him, each containing a different liquor.

The Book

There’s a book by H.I. Williams (the photographer) in 1943 called 3 Bottle Bar. The three bottles he recommends (aside from bitters (ango, orange), sugar, citrus, ginger ale, soda, and tonic etc.) are gin, whiskey, and a dry white wine. That is it.

Three bottles bar (Photo credit : @u/elukea)

He uses the white wine in place of vermouth in both a martini and manhattan (with a touch of sugar). Then you have a bottle of wine open for dinner. He also makes a simple sharpener for before or after dinner that is white wine and bitters to whet your appetite. With just those ingredients you can make highballs, collinses, rickeys, sours, bucks, fizzes, juleps, toddys, cobblers, cordials, and coolers as well as a martini and a manhattan variation.

The Bar

Three Bottle Man Bar features indoor and laneway seating but nobody sits inside unless they have to. Everyone wants a piece of the action going on at this busy corner of Macquarie Place Park.

The Cafe

Steak sandwich, grilled striploin, Emmental cheese, mustard aioli, bush tomato chutney

I ordered a steak sandwich served with fries. I smiled in amusement how a caramelised onions and tomatoes can be upgraded as a chutney. Nevertheless the steak was done correctly (medium rare) and the sandwich reminded me of the first one I had in Australia almost 30 years ago in Perth along a guest stop, but then the steak was much thinner.

Most of the cooking is done at Three Bottle Man’s sister venue, Silvester’s. These items were on offer before Chef Raphael Szurek revamped the menu. They were delicious and great as pub grub. Can’t wait to see how Chef Szurek transform the menu.

The hotel has been my second home in Sydney, and this bar my second office. I have had many casual meet-ups, informal gatherings and serious conversations with my team in this bar. Surely hope to come back really soon, when Australia opens up again for normal business.

Three Bottle Bar
1 Bulletin Pl, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Tel : +61 2 9259 7279

The Day (and the Month) After

I went to Tokyo from Sydney in red eye flight. Nothing unusual, slept all the way. However Tokyo was totally different from Sydney.

The chefs all wore masks

Wuhan and most part of China were in lockdown mode. All travels to and fro China were banned. Most countries started to report cases of infection. Japan had a cruise ship with many infected berthed at Yokohama. Our first dinner there at a very classy teppanyaki restaurant, you can see the chefs and service staff wore masks.

Next day out and about, I realised that everyone masked up for their usual chore. Mind you the Japanese public is very civic conscious and they would normally wear a mask in normal circumstances when they have an allergy or a cold. Now, everyone wore one. And most places started to serve food in takeaway utensils as well.

Hot buffet no more

At the airport lounge, they have stopped providing a hot buffet. Instead, they only offered pre-packed buns and pastries. Even drinks were not self-service anymore in fear of cross-contamination.

Doing my Covid-19 test

I arrived a day before the Singapore government declared that Japan is on the watchlist and everyone who came back after that day would be automatically quarantined for 14 days. I developed a fever and chest tightness, and immediately I was sent by ambulance to the hospital for my swab test. Thank God it was negative.

And since then, I have not travelled (like most of us around the world) out of Singapore. I would like to thank all the frontline healthcare workers – you are the backline of defence for all of us, and I am so glad that it’s so efficient in Singapore.

How was your last trip out of your country? Leave a comment.

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