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Bar Review Catch Up: Society in Cairns, Australia (November 21, 2010)

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Cairns teems with backpackers, hostels, cheap hotels, dive centers, more backpackers, tourist shops, spas, coffee shops, yet more backpackers, faux-Irish pubs, nightclubs and the occasional additional backpacker. Pallavi sits just about at the top of the average age range for visitors to Cairns, and I felt very much like the creepy old man at the club. This didn't matter, of course, because we were there to dive the Great Barrier Reef, we stayed at a cheap tourist hotel instead of a party hostel, and we only incidentally took in the other attractions (and oddities) of Cairns. Nonetheless, we still managed to find Sydney-class drinks at Society, which I consider Cairns' finest bar.

The first thing you need to know about Society is that it is set up for youngish people looking to drink, dance and hook up. Decorated in a modern metal-and-plastic style, with only a bit of hard wood, the bar and the menu are ridiculously woo-girl friendly. The drinks veer heavily towards the sugar bomb: even their negronis are, as standard, mixed with a sweet syrup. Society is a product of its society.

That said, the bartenders can mix the classics, and enjoy showing off their skills when asked. They're also very friendly: one had spent a few years in Detroit, and he and I traded Michigan stories. Another wanted very much to try his hand in bars in the States, and we talked about what we thought might be the best markets for him. It's a shame that he probably won't be able to get a work permit: some fine bar in the States is currently missing a great employee.

As for the drinks, Society is quite creative with concoctions for the sweet-tooth set. Their absinthe-based signature drink manages to be sugary and yet not smother the strong anise flavors of its principal ingredient. On the other hand, Pallavi tried a yellowish concoction which captured the essence of a Starburst fruit chew in a glass. This drink almost doesn't taste alcoholic, which makes for one of those potions that every young girl's mother warned her about. These aren't normally my thing, but Society has elevated cocktail-as-sugar-delivery-mechanism to an art form. Don't drink too much, have plenty of water to ward off the almost inevitable hangover, and brush your teeth afterwards.

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