Arabian Nights at Zeta Bar, Hilton Sydney

Last Thursday night I was invited by Sally Burleigh PR to attend the launch party of Arabian Nights at Zeta Bar in the Hilton.

Zeta Bar is a cocktail bar on the fourth floor of the Hilton hotel in the Sydney CBD. Arabian Nights is their new themed evening running every Friday from now until the 21st of March. It promises to turn Zeta Bar, a stunning bar which looks out at the QVB, into an Arabian oasis. We’re talking Arabian-themed food, cocktails and even decor.

The launch party gave us a sneak peek into the evening with a few added extras. I grabbed a couple of girlfriends and we went to check it out.

When we arrived outside the Hilton we were greeted by camels. No need to rub your eyes – you read that right. Camels. Real live camels.

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Look at that face!

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It’s not everyday you see a camel hanging outside a five star hotel. Needless to say, they were attracting quite a crowd.

We left the camels behind (they spit, you know), took the glass lift up to level four and let the festivities begin.

The bar was decked out with all things Arabian – colourful cushions, Persian rugs and hanging lanterns as well as waiters and waitresses in costume.

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The evening showcased three main things. Cocktails, food and entertainment.

Let’s start with the alcohol.

Cocktails

Zeta Bar has had new cocktails designed especially for the evening. These were Arabian-slash-movie-themed cocktails and my gosh were they strong!

First up: One Thousand and One Nights – “This classically styled beverage combines Tanqueray Gin with Saffron infused Sherry, Sweet Vermouth and hints of Apricot. These ingredients are thrown theatrically and served up in a star anise smoked coupette. A great beginning to your evening.”

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Next up was the Sumac Sour – Light, fresh and crisp, this drink combines Ketel One Citroen Vodka, Yoghurt, Dill, Cucumber, lemon and sesame, in an ice filled wine glass dusted with spices. Experience the exoticism of the Souk.”

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This was a pretty unusual cocktail, but I actually really enjoyed it.

Probably the prettiest cocktail of the night (served two ways): Arabesque – Mint infused Tanqueray #10 is combined with Riotous Rose tea, Passionfruit and Pomegranate gastrique, and enlivened with our exotic spiced Ras el Hanout bitters. Short, Sharp and refreshing – a perfect way to immerse yourself in the flavours of Arabia. Available in larger sizes to suit groups of 4, with liquid nitrogen smoke!”

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And finally, to end the evening we had Shahrazad – “Inspired by the most famous princess in Arabic Literature. Coffee, Cynar, Port, and Ketel OneVodka, with a pinch of salt. Accompanied by Turkish Delight, this is a short sweet treat fit for a king (or princess to be!) guaranteed to keep one awake.”

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Food

Unfortunately I didn’t get too many photos of the food (it was a little tricky getting photos of the food as it roamed around and, as one waitress told me, the trays were really heavy). But I can tell you that it was all very delicious. It was served to us as canapes, but on a normal evening you can order how you would in any other bar and have it brought over.

When we arrived the “Dips Plate” (ordinarily $24) was set up and waiting on a table. This consisted of capsicum and pearl onion salad, parsley teretor with walnut, dill labne yogurt and hummus with fried cumin and paprika oil.

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I can honestly say it was the best hummus I’ve had. And I eat a lot of hummus.

The other dishes we got included chicken sish with sumac onions, grilled pitta bread and garlic yogurt sauce ($7 each), grilled harissa lamb cutlets with potato hummus Muhammara sauce ($26), mitt kofte with eggplant harissa ($18) and spicy garlic and tomato prawns ($24).

Unfortunately the only photo I got was of the lamb cutlets, but rest assured the rest of it looked just as good.

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Dessert was not forgotten. We were treated to homemade Arabic sweets ($3 each). This included baklava (probably the most delicious I have ever had) and Turkish delight, which was also delicious. I stole a piece and took it home for my mum, who loves Turkish delight more than she loves me. It received her tick of approval, so that’s saying something.

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Entertainment

In addition to the camels (and the food, which is enough to keep me entertained), we were also treated to sheeshas, roaming magicians, belly dancers and a fire-twirling bartender.

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All in all it was a really fun evening. If the launch party is anything to go off, it’s looking like Arabian Nights at Zeta Bar is a great place to spend a Friday. Especially if you’re looking for something different to do.

Arabian Nights kicks off this Friday (Valentine’s Day) and will take plaZeta Bar on Urbanspoonce from 6pm every Friday night until March 21st. Sorry guys, but I don’t think the camels will be there.