With the dust barely settled on their Chinese pop-up, Good Luck Pinbone, Mike Eggert and Jemma Whiteman are at work on their next shape-shifting venture, this time in partnership with Merivale. On Friday 20 October they will open Mr Liquor's Dirty Italian Disco in the drive-through of the group's Tennyson Hotel in Mascot, with loud tunes, Italianate food and a pick-and-drink system that takes advantage of the ample fridge space at a pub bottle shop.
"We were thinking of restaurants that are always really fun - when it's more than just a meal and you have a really good time," Eggert says. "To us, Italian food is always happy."
The menu will change regularly, but Eggert and Whiteman have a wood-fired oven to work with and they plan to use it for everything from porchetta to prawns, with a 500g bistecca also on the cards. Pasta will also feature on the menu, and there'll be a selection of bruschettas to keep all-comers happy, including octopus, potato and mint, and raw veal with whipped tuna and greens. Fans of Eggert and Whiteman's hazelnut tiramisù will be able to get their fix and, with some luck, there may be an Italian edition of the icy-poles served at Good Luck Pinbone.
Clockwise from top left: bruschetta of raw veal, whipped tuna and greens; burrata; beef tongue, porcini and tomato; bruschetta of peas, beans, ricotta and mint.
Unsurprisingly for a bottle shop, there will be a vast drinks list, a rare feature for a pop-up restaurant and a change of pace from the BYO scenario at Good Luck Pinbone.
"When you've got a massive cool-room fridge, you can do what you want, even if that's stocking two bottles of something," Eggert says.
Punters will be able to browse the fridges and select a bottle, perhaps a natural wine or a long neck of beer, before sitting down at a table on the horseshoe-shaped driveway. An Italian tap beer, cocktails and wines by the glass will also be on offer.
Good times are the goal, with influences ranging from the Italo-American restaurants of Williamsburg to a backyard barbecue with the extended family. The Tennyson's drive-through, detached from the pub proper and more akin to a large shed, will be decked out for a warehouse party vibe, and Merivale DJs will spin everything from Donna Summers to '80s punk.
So how does it feel to go from running your own pop-ups to working with a big player?
"These guys are seasoned professionals," says Eggert. "They see things that no one else sees."
Sydney will have six months to enjoy Mr Liquor's and what sounds like a glorious mash-up of bar, restaurant and dance party.
Mr Liquor's Dirty Italian Disco, 952 Botany Rd, Mascot, NSW, merivale.com.au, Wed-Fri 6pm-midnight, Sat noon-midnight, Sun noon-10pm.