Like a candy shop for grown-ups, Li’l Darlin offers an irresistible list of cocktails with all the trimmings – think fairy floss, rainbow sprinkles and passionfruit halves filled with white chocolate flakes. Come for the drinks and definitely stay for the nibbles!
As the bar of choice for birthdays (pink sash and tiara essential), hen’s nights and girly catchups, Li’l Darlin was my favourite spot as a 19-year-old who had only just moved beyond vodka raspberries. Revisiting the Darlinghurst location a couple of years later, I was left disappointed in the sickly sweet concoctions which tasted nothing the cocktails I had had many times before. Fast forward another couple of years, I noticed Li’l Darlin available for a 15% cashback through the PokitPal app, so I decided I’d give it another go for old time’s sake!
Hundreds & Thousands ($19.90)
At just under $20 a pop, it can be easy to spend a small fortune on easy-drinking cocktails at this small bar. Thankfully, they offer one of the best cocktail happy hours in Sydney with all Darlin Collection cocktails (the fun ones) for only $10 from 5 – 7 pm, Monday – Wednesday, 4 – 6 pm, Thursday – Friday and after 10 pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays!
Today, I chose the classic ‘Hundreds & Thousands’ cocktail — a refreshing blend of vodka, homemade apple and strawberry juice with enough fresh lemon to counterbalance the sweetness. In addition to signature cocktails featuring ingredients like popcorn, cake-infused vodka, honeycomb and vanilla sugar, Li’l Darlin also offers classic cocktails, spiked fresh juices and a tantalising list of espresso martinis flavoured with things like hazelnut, amaretto and orange.
Antipasto Board ($39)
Clockwise from Top: Antipasto Board ($39), ‘Smashin Passion’ Cocktail ($19), Peking Duck Pizza ($25), Salt & Pepper Soft Shell Crab ($17), Gamberetti Pizza ($25).
Once overlooked in favour of…well, more cocktails, Li’l Darlin also offers an extensive (and I mean extensive) menu of snacks, small plates, salads, pizza, burgers, mains and desserts. From memory, the oven-baked Nutella pizza scrolls were AMAZING, but we didn’t have room to fit them — next time!
The generous antipasto board is a wonderful grazing option alongside drinks. Featuring a selection of meats including a delicious prosciutto alongside sopressa and a spicy salami, flatbread, assorted dips, marinated olives, chargrilled vegetables and a small amount of cheese — although the menu stated this was cherry bocconcini, we received feta.
The lightly battered salt and pepper soft shell crab was crispy on the outside and juicy in the centre, served with a lime mayonnaise. A tasty option, although I couldn’t taste much salt and pepper seasoning.
The pizzas were a real highlight for me. The Li’l Darlin signature includes pieces of crispy Peking duck with hoisin sauce, mozzarella cheese, cucumber, shallots and coriander, drizzled with orange glaze. Although we found there was a little too much cheese which overwhelmed the other flavours, I still loved the hoisin flavour together with the crispy duck. My favourite pizza, however, was the gamberetti with big, juicy prawns, atop a tomato base, with mozzarella, rocket and a superbly creamy and well-seasoned mayonnaise. Delicious!
Pomegranate Sour ($19.90)
After all those nibbles, we decided to opt for a liquid dessert. The pomegranate sour was a delicious balance of sweet and sour with white rum, pomegranate and apple juice with a twist of lemon and lime and finished with a vanilla sugar rim.
While some may scoff at the idea of martinis shaken with raspberry sorbet or an old fashioned with popcorn syrup, I personally can’t resist Li’l Darlin’s fun and youthful charm. And, if cocktails aren’t your thing, they also offer an extensive wine list alongside, beer, cider and spirits so that there’s something for everyone. While a bar at heart, I was also seriously impressed with the food offering, which pairs perfectly with a drink in hand — standouts for me were definitely the Peking duck and Gamberetti pizzas. As mentioned previously, I have experienced some inconsistencies in quality over the years at Li’l Darlin Darlinghurst, however, I’m glad to say the most recent was exceptional!
This post is based on my experience at Li’l Darlin Darlinghurst, sponsored by PokitPal. All opinions, comments and photos are 100% honest and my own.
235 Victoria St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
(02) 8084 6100
Let’s connect! For the love of all things food, follow me on Instagram @eatswithmarie