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What’s On: The Rocks Baristas go Head to Head

PlayFair Café takes out inaugural Aroma Cup

The month of July saw baristas throughout The Rocks battle it out for the title of the public’s favourite coffee in Sydney’s heritage precinct. With around 4,000 votes received, Sydneysiders have spoken and it’s official, the maker of their favourite drop in The Rocks is Playfair Café!

Owner of Playfair Café, George Macris, who has been in The Rocks for 14 years, says he is honoured by this award.

“We’re extremely thankful and privileged to have the continued support of our loyal customers,” said Mr Macris. “The Rocks has a wonderful community of cafes and baristas who really know their customers and how to make great coffee. So to be considered the public’s favourite amongst such high quality is a huge honour,” he said.


Presented by Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, the Aroma Cup was a new addition to The Rocks Aroma Festival this year, which attracted around 100,000 visitors to The Rocks on July 21 who roamed its intimate laneways savouring brews from some of the finest boutique coffee roasters in Sydney.

Thirteen cafes and restaurants throughout The Rocks were in close running for Aroma Cup honours during the month of July with public voting ultimately becoming a contest in three – Café Danieli and The Fine Food Store came second and third respectively.

“The response to the Aroma Cup has been remarkable”, said Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority CEO, Catherine Gallagher, “The sheer number of people who participated in voting for their favourite coffee maker speaks volumes for the high standard of food and beverage offerings that people are discovering in The Rocks,” she said.

By simply casting a vote, one lucky member of the public, Anna Tellman, has also won a fantastic Aroma prize giveaway, which ran in conjunction with the Aroma Cup. Their prize includes an ECM Casa IV coffee machine from Essential Coffee Services, plus accommodation and dinner for two in The Rocks, valued at $1,700.

Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority is proud to manage The Rocks: traditional land of the Cadigal people and the birthplace of European settlement in Australia. While preserving The Rocks’ unique heritage, we produce large scale and intimate quality events, outdoor markets, and educational tours to drive visitors into the precinct and support our tenants. The Rocks: it’s a perfect blend of culture, cuisine and myriad experiences worth savouring.

For more information visit

SOCIAL SPY** A NOVEL SPICE CELLAR JEFF APTER’s book launch, “Johnny O’Keefe. Rocker. Legend. Wild One.”


30 July 2013, The Spice Cellar

Last night, Sydney Social was invited to the launch of Author Jeff Apter’s new book, a biography of Australian musical icon Johnny O’Keefe, “Johnny O’Keefe. Rocker. Legend. Wild One.”

Guests were treated to a speech from Apter amongst the book-lined shelves and cosy corners of Sydney’s underground eatery, The Spice Cellar. Whilst sipping a selection of CAKE wines and sampling a selection of The Spice Cellar’s delish tapas, guests soaked up stories of the colourful life of O’Keefe- a true human dynamo and rock ‘n’ roll powerhouse whose influence still looms large on the Australia musical landscape.

In the biography, Apter brings the larger than life character of O’Keefe into focus, highlighting his brilliantly talented, but self-destructive nature and the huge role he played in establishing the Australian entertainment industry.

O’Keefe died young, from a heart attack, at the age of 43, leaving behind a legacy of timeless hits, including ‘She’s My Baby’ and ‘Shout’. Over his lifetime, he recorded 33 Top 40 hits-establishing himself as part of the fabric of Australia’s music culture.

Guests secured first dibs on copies of the new book and Apter was happy to personally sign copies. “Johnny O’Keefe. Rocker. Legend. Wild One.” can be purchased at selected bookstores and from Amazon.

The Spice Cellar – Unique, European, Underground Basement Level – 58 Elizabeth Street Sydney 2000,

Sydney Social’s contributor Betsy Oyler attended on behalf of Sydney Social 101.



Social Spy** Camp Quality Launches Dine At Mine

Last night Camp Quality held an intimate media and celebrity cocktail evening at Ananas in The Rocks to launch their new Dine At Mine Campaign. Dine at Mine is a major new fundraiser for the children’s cancer charity, and the concept is simple. Throughout August 2013, hosts invite family and friends to a dining experience – could be breakfast, lunch or dinner – and ask them to donate what they would’ve spent eating out to Camp Quality. All funds will help create a better life for every child living with cancer in Australia.

Guests included top media and celebrities such as Dine At Mine ambassador and celebrity chef Lyndey Milan, Scott Gooding from My Kitchen Rules, Olympic swimmer Elka Whalan and her husband Thomas, and Channel 9 sports reporter Erin Molan.

Upon arrival guests were treated to cocktails and canapés and after mingling listened to Lyndey Milan give an inspiring insight into how important the work Camp Quality does and more about the Dine At Mine campaign. Lyndey then went on to introduce a mother whose son has cancer – Lindy Kingsford – who told the moving yet uplifting story of her son Alex’s illness, how he was beating it and how important Camp Quality had been in their journey. Alex and her daughter Lilly also attended the evening and all guests agreed they were the most gorgeous and lovely children!

Guests were left feeling inspired and moved after the speeches and had the opportunity to talk further with Lyndey & Lindy who stayed and chatted with everyone well into the evening. To help support the amazing work Camp Quality does with children with cancer and to register as a Dine at Mine host, simply visit







Last week, Sydney Social was invited to the grand opening of a Kiehl’s boutique in Sydney’s iconic Queen Victoria Building.

The long standing international brand who prides themselves on being NYC ‘born and bred’ opened their doors with a very special charity partnership announcement with National Adoption Awareness Week (NAAW). Founder, Deborra Lee Furness opened with an official video announcement and was supported by Australian Women’s Weekly Editor in Chief and NAAW Board Member, Helen McCabe.

VIP guests were treated to entertainment from DJ GothenBros and nibbled on NYC style canapés—think bite-sized Caesar salads, popcorn and salmon bagels! In the spirit of National Adoption week, guests were invited to get creative and draw their own families on tubs of Keihl’s hottest selling product, their Ultra Facial Cream. One sells every 14 seconds worldwide!

Key VIP attendees included: Kris Smith, James Tobin, Anthony “Harries” Carroll from Bondi Rescue, Alan White and Prinnie from The Voice.

You can find Kiehl’s Boutique in Sydney’s Queen Victoria Building, Lower Ground South, Shop 57, 455 George St, Sydney. They’re open for normal business hours through the week and open late on Thursdays for a cheeky after work shopping spree.

Sydney Social’s roving reporter Betsy Oyler attended on behalf of Sydney Social 101.




With the newly released winter menu at Sebel Pier One Sydney, why not hide from the elements & indulge yourself with our delicious room service menu while relaxing in style in one of the new luxurious suites. Built over the waters of Sydney Harbour at Walsh Bay, you can devour the sensational new menu and awaken your tastebuds while gazing at the unrivalled harbour views. Take in some of the iconic landmarks, such as The Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Sydney Opera House or the famous smile of Luna Park, all while sipping on a glass of champagne in absolute luxury.

Sebel Pier One Executive Chef, John Slaughter, believes he has created a winter menu that will satisfy every diner’s palette. “Every season, I update the menu. I take a lot of time in choosing fresh produce that compliments the season and is readily available at that time of year. It’s important that we only use the highest quality food, sourced both locally and abroad, so that each mouthful is an experience in itself.”

As exquisite as the new suites, the ‘melt in your mouth’ Braised Beef Short Rib, Mirin & Soy on Chili Slaw is a must-have from the new menu. The Pan seared citrus pepper scallops with salted cucumber & sauce verge are the perfect way to start the evening whilst to finish, John Slaughter suggests you must try the Toasted Marshmallow, Strawberries, Lemon Curd, Champagne Chillout with Strawberry Sorbet.

Alternatively, dress for winter and have your room service outside, as four of the suites boast large balcony spaces. A wrap-around balcony for three of the suites, provide generous space with divisions to ensure privacy, while the fourth suite balcony offers an impressive 40 metre squared space jutting over the Pier. The space makes for an ideal setting for your own private alfresco dining and sunset drinks.

All of the new suites feature king size beds, a marble topped wet bar with Nespresso coffee machine, marble topped working desk, two LED flat screen TVs – one of which rises from the bed base, Foxtel, iPod/iPad docking stations and WiFi internet access. The bathrooms have (insert “a”) designer, deep standalone bathtub, soothing rainwater heads with side jets, double brass bowl vanities and deluxe amenity kits from Appelles Apothecary.

Complementing The Sebel Pier One Sydney, is its sister hotel in The Rocks, Harbour Rocks Hotel. This historic 59-room hotel was completely redeveloped in 2012 & delivers outstanding luxury and attention to detail while maintaining respect for the historical and architectural features of the original building. Both hotels are perfectly located to explore Sydney.


Sydney Social 101 was invited to the launch of BEENLEIGH RUM as it was re-launched here in Sydney last night, with the smooth Australian rum warming stylish guests on the cold Sydney evening.

Held at the stunning Low302 on Crown Street in Darlinghurst, the venue housed approximately 100 guests, including trade and industry representatives, Sydney socialites and lifestyle media. Vok Beverages hosted this invite- only event to celebrate the re-launch of the iconic Australian brand and introduce the new addition, Beenleigh Honey.


On arrival, guests were treated to delicious Beenleigh cocktails, followed by a stand-out selection of roving canapés, matched perfectly to accompany each rum. The cocktails were specifically created for this event by Low302 bar manager, Reece Griffiths.


The Beenleigh Rum welcome cocktail creations included the ‘Cream Honey Punch,’ which featured Beenleigh Honey, Cream Honey, house made sherbet, citrus, earl grey tea and spices with fresh fruits. This creative beverage was a great way to introduce the new Beenleigh Honey rum, which utilizes Ligurian honey from Cliffords Farm on Kangaroo Island in the blend.


The second cocktail offered to guests was the ‘Old Vice’, a delicious concoction of Beenleigh 5 Year Old Rum, cigar syrup and chocolate bitters. Following this, the remaining cocktail featured throughout the night was the ‘Highball #5’, a simply delicious blend of Beenleigh White Rum, lime juice, apple juice and Falernum syrup.

John Mulraney, Head Distiller

John Mulraney, Head Distiller

The evening proceeded with a brand presentation conducted by Alice Hemming of Vok Beverages. Then together with John Mulraney, Beenleigh Distillery manager, they conducted rum tastings where guests sampled each of the three products neat, relishing in the rich and distinctive flavor profile of each Beenleigh Rum. John Mulraney spoke to the guests about rum production, including fermentation, distillation and aging while talking through the history of Beenleigh Rum and the distillery.

Guests were fascinated to learn that Beenleigh holds the acclaim of being Australia’s oldest distillery registered in 1884 and includes a blending hall, warehouse and administration facilities. In 2012 Vok Beverages acquired the Beenleigh Rum Brand and now holds full ownership of the Beenleigh Distilling Company and Beenleigh brand.


Vok Beverages, now the sole owner of the Beenleigh brand and the heritage-listed distillery, recently re-launched Beenleigh Rum to the Australian market with sophisticated new packaging, improved premium liquid and an addition to the portfolio, Australia’s first honey infused rum. The varieties in the premium spirit’s portfolio include Dark 5 Year Old Rum, White and Beenleigh Honey which are ideal sipping style rums, smooth enough to be enjoyed neat on the rocks, as a mixer or as a key ingredient to your favourite cocktail.

Jay &Bridget Gray

Jay &Bridget Gray

Simon Toohey, Stuart Carr, Alice Hemming

Simon Toohey, Stuart Carr, Alice Hemming

Matt Rimmer, Eddie Brook,Blake Kramer

Matt Rimmer, Eddie Brook,Blake Kramer

Luke Jacobz, Simon Hancock

Luke Jacobz, Simon Hancock




Beenleigh Rum is more than just a rum, more than just a story and spirit – Beenleigh Rum is a tribute to bold Australian enterprise and the stuff legends are made of. The re-launch trade event held in Sydney was the perfect way to re- establish this proud iconic Australian rum and introduce the delectable new Beenleigh Honey.


Social Spy** Caffeinated Crowds Roam The Rocks


Droves of coffee-loving Sydneysiders came out of the woodworks and took over The Rocks to soak up the sun and the heady scent of freshly roasted and brewed beans at The Rocks Aroma Festival.


The cobblestone paths of The Rocks teemed with visitors to The Rocks Aroma Festival on Sunday 21 July, with thousands roaming its intimate laneways sampling some of the best brews, fine foods and entertainment in Sydney.


Presented by Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, the festival atmosphere was complemented by a gorgeous sunny winter day, as tens of thousands of visitors huddled over thousands of cups of coffee, from 24 boutique roasters offering a wide array of beans and blends.


One of the biggest events of the day was the creation of the world’s largest coffee mosaic. Volunteer staff members from the Foreshore Authority broke the Guinness World Record with a massive portrait of Dame Edna Everage made of 8,000 carefully arranged cups of coffee. Now that’s taking ‘latte art’ to a whole new level!


Highlights also included the micro roasters on show at the First Fleet Park. Visitors sampled coffees direct from the coffee merchants and producers who brought along boutique and Fairtrade beans. Among the most popular were Mayan Coffee + Xocolat, where massive lines of visitors formed for their gourmet coffees and chocolate drinks.


Queues also ran all day at Cadman’s Cottage, where gourmet small batch, single origin and organic coffees were the order of the day. The brilliant brews were perfectly complemented by the famous French pastries from Baroque Bistro Patisserie and La Renaissance Patisserie.


It wasn’t all about coffee at the Aroma Festival. George Street, already famous for its cafes, was packed all day as it hosted tea tastings, specialty coffee roasters and wickedly good chocolatiers, pâtissiers and cupcake bakers. Visitors were served steaming cups of tea, handmade treats and chocolates, and too-good-to-eat cupcakes from The Cupcake Bakery.


Sydney’s cafe and live entertainment cultures collided at the Overseas Passenger Terminal forecourt, where Sydney met Paris and Rome. La Toosh captured the essence of the Parisian lifestyle in a remarkable experience that combined food, art, performance and music. Meanwhile, Bar Coco added the Italian touch with espressos and specialty gelato.


Campbells Cove was transformed into a Middle Eastern haven as stalls serving Turkish street food and traditionally made coffee and tea created a warm Arabian atmosphere. Visitors lounged on cushions on the harbour front while sipping on apple tea and strong Turkish coffee as belly dancers and musicians performed on stage.

Stall holders showed visitors the tricks of the trade on the MCA Lawn, showing them the key to brewing cafe-grade coffee at home. Visitors were shown the best grounds for different brewing methods as well as the latest technologies to make the ultimate cup.

This year the festival offered an impressive array of activities and workshops in the week leading up to the big day. The coffee-curious took part in an espresso tasting with boutique roasters Pablo & Rusty’s; enjoyed insider’s tips from professional chocolate makers and learned how to make pour-over coffee at home.

And it’s not over yet! As part of The Rocks Aroma Festival, the inaugural ‘Aroma Cup’ has The Rocks’ many cafes and baristas currently going head to head in a public vote for the makers of the best coffee, with a member of the public in for the chance to win an ECM Casa IV coffee machine plus accommodation and dinner for two in The Rocks, valued at $1,700 – Just for voting for The Rocks’ best drop! Voting continues until the end of July!

Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority is proud to manage The Rocks: traditional land of the Cadigal people and the birthplace of European settlement in Australia. While preserving The Rocks’ unique heritage, we produce large scale and intimate quality events, outdoor markets, and educational tours. The Rocks: it’s a perfect blend of culture, cuisine and a myriad of experiences worth savouring.

For more information visit

Movie 101** The Conjuring

SydneySocial101 was invited to the late night showing of The Conjuring. Now I have seen the trailer for this film with a number of different people. One of my friends didn’t get passed the first 10 seconds before she was covering her face and ducking behind me. Another time I was with, who I thought was a grown man, but he jumped at every possible moment. Remember this is still the trailer, so I was excited to see what the feature film had going for itself.

The film is based on real paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Famiga. I did my research before the film and learnt that they apparently investigated the Amityville Horror which was also made in to a film. The fact the film is meant to be based on real events, weather you believe it or not, make the film that much scarier.

It starts out with the Perron family and their five girls moving in to a new house. Of course this house is located by a lake, surrounded by trees and miles away from the nearest neighbour. What scary house wouldn’t. The family start to hear strange sounds throughout the house and eventually it leads to a basement that has been boarded up. What good haunted house doesn’t have a basement? The children often play a game of hide and seek where one is blindfolded while the others clap 3 times. The claps draw the blindfolded person closer. These are the best scenes and the ones from the trailer. They are drawn to the claps but find out that no one is there. The fact you see the hands clapping is where the jumping moments begin.

The children start to become affected by the house and quickly the Warrens are asked to investigate. Lorraine has physic powers which allow her to see where ghosts are. They realise that something is wrong in the house and they need to help the Perrons quickly. The Warrens have their own side story about their own family and daughter which is a good side step from always being in the main house.

The Conjuring is very good at building the tension and throughout the film there plenty of moments, which are not for the faint of heart. It is also great the there isn’t too much of a gap between these sections so if you are spooked easily then you will have permanent hand prints on your face. You are also likely to miss most of the film.

I have seen many horror films but only a couple in the cinema. I highly recommend that this is one of those films that needs to be seen in the cinema. If you have to wait to see it on dvd then make sure its at night with a pillow to hand. (Sydney Social’s Editor does not concur! Not a fan of scary films) 😉

The film was reviewed by Sydney Social’s roving movie reporter, Syrus Wynne

SydneySocial101 gives ‘The Conjuring’ a creepy 8/10. Definability one to watch with the lights out!!

Movie 101** Pacific Rim

SydneySocial101 was recently invited to the screening of Pacific Rim, directed by Guillermo del Toro. I have seen many of his films which he has either directed, produced or written. This is the first film for a long time where he has done all three. He always has his quirky touch and is recently mostly known for Hellboy. So we already know what he is capable of when given big budgets, but what do you do when you are given $190 million to use? You have to make a film as large to match it.

The film starts out explaining how large monsters, nicknamed Kaijus, started coming through the seabed floor of the Pacific Rim. They began attacking the cities killing thousands and the army struggled to hold them back. But as the attacks became more frequent, the countries put their resources together. They created the Jaegers, who were large robots on similar scale to the Kaijus. To be able to control the Jaegers they required two pilots to work together. Their minds and memories had to sink together to full be in sync and control the giant robots. Charlie Hunnam, from Sons of Anarchy, plays Raleigh Becket. He has an incident at the start of the film and is recruited back in to the Jaeger programme which the government has given up all hope on, as the Kaijus are becoming too powerful. There are only four Jaegers left and he has to choose a new partner to act as the last stand against these monsters.

There are not too many big names in the film but Ron Pearlmen of Hellboy fame, often cast in Guillermo’s film, plays a small part. He seems to be typecast in similar roles but he does play them well. Charlie Day as Dr.Newt Geiszler brings the comedy to the film where it needs it.

I recently reviewed ‘Man of Steel’ and I thought that had over the top CGI. Though this takes it to another level. You really get to believe the large scale of the robots as they fight the monsters in the sea and through the cities. Again the destruction within the cities is on an enormous scale. Pacific Rim reminds me of the old Godzilla movies and the Japanese tv series Ultraman. Though if you are looking to see either film, I would stick with Man of Steel.

I think young boys who like the transformer movies will love this. I can not say that I really brought into the storyline as it was very basic. You could guess the outcome of each scene from the start. The story goes a bit crazy near the end as they realise where the monsters are coming from and what they need to do to stop them. But the real movie is about the robots and they do provide a lot of fun along the way.

SydneySocial gives ‘Pacific RIm’ a monstrous 6/10!!

Reviewed by Syrus Wynne, Sydney Social 101’s roving movie reporter!

What’s On: The Lobo Plantation harvests a crop of the world’s finest rums…


Continuing Sydney’s seemingly insatiable thirst for innovative small bars and bespoke cocktail experiences, The Lobo Plantation has opened its doors today, located at 209 Clarence Street, Sydney.

LOBO_ 100

The Lobo Plantation is a specialist rum bar, stocking over 150 hand-picked varieties from around the world – enough to give each of their patrons a different drop if they so desired, and is the brainchild of Sydneysiders Michael Hwang Eddie Levy and, with Jared Merlino as General Manager.

The faded grandeur of the The Lobo Plantation will combine the old-world glamour of 1950’s Cuba and the non-stop party vibe of the Caribbean with just a dash of European elegance, all fuelled by a unique selection of bespoke rum concoctions.


The Lobo Plantation is named after Julio Lobo, the legendary Cuban sugar baron who built two of the world’s finestcasinos there, dated a string of Hollywood beauties including Esther Williams for whom he reputedly filled his swimming-pool with perfume, and became a folk hero in Cuba for championing workers’ rights, before finally having to flee from Castro with just a small suitcase.


The bar interior is an homage to Lobo’s extraordinary life, which Sydney designer Josh Clapp from Taught By Blackhas reinterpreted, creating an urban hideout Julio would have been proud of – the ornate, vintage doorway is from Argentina, the bar is built from timber and brass using antique French shutters with a British Racing Green colourtone throughout the venue.

Michael, Jared, Eddie 2

Patrons glide in past a vertical garden and down a stunning, curved staircase, which on egress reveals a unique mosaic comprised of flamingos tiled on to each step. Once inside The Lobo Plantation, guests will find themselves lounging on red leather Chesterfields with an intricate domed ceiling above and herringbone timber floor below, while a trip to the bathrooms will reveal beautiful mosaic tiles and custom built vanities with beautiful hand-painted basins.

The Lobo Plantation provides the perfect escape from the cold Sydney winter streets and creates the scenicbackdrop for a range of rum concoctions unique to Australia, with signature cocktails including:

Million Dollar No. 9

The Lobo Plantation’s twist on the Millionaire No. 4 cocktail, using Jamaican Appleton’s VX rum with homemade Lobo liqueur (stewed apples, skins and seeds, fresh cherries and almonds). Mixed with eau de vie, Mas deBressades Rose and sugar (slow cooked to a reduction), Sloe gin, lime juice and dash of grenadine. Shaken and garnished with homemade apple and cherry fruit roll up rolled in a million dollar bill, dipped in sherbet.

Esther Williams

Matusalem Platino rum from the Dominican Republic, elderflower cordial, Cuilleron Roussanne VDP and orange bitters. Stirred and served in coupe garnished with a lemon twist.

Foggy Waters

A shared cocktail for two which consists of Cuban Havana 3 rum, Martell Cognac, Plymouth Gin, Orgeat (almond Syrup), orange juice, lemon juice and a Pedro Ximenez float. Served with smoking dry ice in an ornate silver jug and garnished with orange peel, cherries and mint.

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