Dirty Sultan brings breezy Euro vibes, Mediterranean cocktails and shisha to The Valley
Good news for fans of rooftop bars, Fortitude Valley now boasts a lavish newcomer taking inspiration from the diverse nightlife scene of the Mediterranean. If you’re keen to sample baklava-infused cocktails, snack on Turkish-style tapas or puff on scented smoke in a shisha lounge, seek out Dirty Sultan’s incognito elevator entrance next to the base of TRYP Fortitude Valley.
If you ask most folks, a Mediterranean holiday entails equal parts revelry and relaxation. For buddies Dilan Ildes and Tom D’Arcy, there was plenty of that, plus a little research too. The boys, who became friends while working across Brisbane’s hospitality scene, embarked on a backpacking holiday across Europe in 2015, taking in the sights, sounds and flavours of the coast. It was in Turkey that the two started seriously discussing the prospect of opening a bar together – one that took inspiration from the melting pot that was Europe’s diverse bar scene. Being half Turkish, Dilan was enamoured with the idea of bringing a piece of his heritage back to Brisbane, incorporating traces of Turkey’s transcontinental vibe alongside handpicked elements of their favourite regions, such as Greece’s sun-soaked party culture and France’s phenomenal music scene. Nothing like what they imagined existed in Brisbane, and Dilan and Tom knew that if they did it right, it would be something that partiers back home would respond to. A few years later, Dilan and Tom started searching for the ideal spot, eventually negotiating with the group behind boutique hotel TRYP Fortitude Valley on Constance Street to let the duo transform the former Up on Constance space into Dirty Sultan, their Mediterranean-influenced rooftop concept. Putting it simply, Dirty Sultan isn’t a bar, club, restaurant or lounge, rather an amalgam of each – a place that caters for late-night dance-floor gyration and laid-back grazing in equal measure.
Once the rooftop space was secured, Dilan and Tom had their work cut out for them. Their goal was a complete refit of the space to ensure it felt like a whole new venue. To do this, they gutted the bar and seating areas, building it up again with a Mediterranean-inspired aesthetic in mind. The design brief entailed conveying the European influences in subtle ways – small elements that hinted at its inspirations making Dirty Sultan feel familiar but also new. The resulting fit-out is easy on the eyes – the visual palette is dominated by blush pink, copper, pops of royal blue and greenery. Upon exiting the elevator, you’ll be greeted by a neon sign luring you towards the bar, from which you’ll be able to glimpse the central dining space, cushy booths on the fringe and curtained day-bed area beyond. Covering the far wall is a dazzlingly vivid work by Asad Faulwell, an American-born artist of Iranian descent, which depicts his mother and grandmother’s journey to the United States. Just past the mural is a shisha lounge, sequestered behind a sliding barn door where groups of ten guests can sample grape, watermelon and strawberry flavours in 30-minute sessions. Dirty Sultan is an all-weather venue, with a retractable roof and shades allowing the bar to capitalise on sunshine, but also offer comfortable protection in case of inclement weather. The Dirty Sultan team will soon commence work overhauling the elevator access laneway and vacant ground-floor space (formerly home of Chur Burger). An existing coffee counter and bar area will be altered to service the laneway, offering Fonzie Abbott coffee in the morning and booze in the evening. Seating and greenery will spruce up the laneway itself, while the adjacent interior space will be given a facelift of light pink and chrome, becoming a dedicated function space for Tryp on Constance.
The food, drink and music
Like the venue’s fit-out, Dirty Sultan’s food and drink menu has been crafted with subtlety in mind. The flavour profiles and ingredient pairings utilised across the venue’s share-style eats and cocktail menu borrow conceptual inspiration from traditional Mediterranean recipes and ideas, but each have been playfully retrofitted to suit a more contemporary setting. Described as a form of ‘fusion mezze‘, groups can select from a collection of small plates encompassing the likes of falafel popcorn, three-cheese spring rolls, Turkish pide, Nutella baklava and Turkish-coffee creme brulee. Cocktails spearhead Dirty Sultan’s drinks selection, each presented with a tall tale (you’ll get a kick out of each concoction’s description) and a list of ingredients. While straightforward on paper, the menu belies the intricate prep each libation requires to make. The Khan utilises a shisa to infuse the drink with the smoke of mesquite wood, the bourbon used in Emira has been fried and washed with butter, and the Farah incorporates cold-brew Turkish coffee. Also available is a selection of tap and bottled beers (including the bar’s own The Sultan’s Jewels lager), more than 20 wines and a range of top-shelf spirits (bottle service is available for those that reserve a booth). As for the tunes, Dirty Sultan is recruiting a rotating roster of selectors playing a unique mix of international music, we’re talking Euro house, French hip-hop and lo-fi – nothing mainstream. Dirty Sultan has been serving breakfast to hotel guests since late last year, but the general public can stop in and sample Mediterranean-inspired day starters from 7:00 am daily.
Dirty Sultan is now open! For operation hours and contact details, head to the Stumble Guide.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.