Merivale’s has opened a new French-style cocktail bar on Ash Street, offering 1920s Parisian vibes in Sydney’s CBD. Little Felix is the latest addition to Ivy’s dining precinct and first phase of its evolution.
Ernest Hemmingway and Zelda Fitzgerald would have been at home among the dark, moody interiors of the venue, with modern-day guests invited to loose track of time over Champagne and libations mixed by a bartending team cherrypicked from the group’s best cocktail bars.
Drinks have taken their cues from what would have been served to Hemingway and co; simple, beautiful cocktails that avoid too many twists or tricks and accent the experience, rather than power it.
“We have taken the well-known classic cocktails from the great Parisian bars and hotels of the early 20th century, and gently refreshed them to make drinks relevant today,” says group bars manager Sam Egerton. “Embracing provenance as a guide for these developments, we used French liquors as modifiers to the tried and tested recipes.”
The result is an eight-strong line-up of cocktails that are just one step away from the original version, still recognisable and delivered with a restrained but elegant execution.
“The French 75, for example, is a classic cocktail of gin, citrus and champagne. At Little Felix, we’ve used Chandon blanc de blancs and Farigoule de Forcalquier, a thyme liqueur, and called it Paris Meridian after the line that ran through the Paris Observatory,” says Egerton. “Our Sidecar, a cocktail that is said to have been invented for an American army captain and first made at The Ritz Hotel, uses Hennessy VS, Cointreau, lemon juice, Le Birlou and finished with Armagnac, is affectionately named Le Ricain, a French nickname for Americans”.
Sommeliers MS Franck Moreau and Jean-Charles Mahe have curated the wine list. Wine and champagne served by the glass are poured by magnum and housed in a custom-built fridge next to the bar. The choose is about more than the theatrical flourish — magnums influence taste, adding more finesse and greater maturation.
“Whilst a magnum contains twice the volume of a standard bottle, its neck size and air content remain the same,” explains Moreau. “This allows the wine to mature slowly, creating great nuances and more complex flavours.”
Back vintages from the extensive wine list at neighbouring Felix will also be available for guests to choose from.
To complement the French wine list, Felix’s head chef Nathan Johnson has designed a simple, elegant menu of charcuterie, cheese and tartines.
Designed as a collaboration between Justin and Bettina Hemmes, leading design firm ACME and stylist Amanda Talbot, Little Felix is the first of four new bars and eateries to open in the Ivy laneways this year. The expansion is a part of Justin Hemmes’ vision to reinvigorate Sydney’s status as a world-class metropolis and create a neighbourhood of around-the-clock hospitality.
Coinciding with the opening of George Street’s multi-million-dollar pedestrianisation and the City of Sydney’s push for a 24-hour CBD, Ivy will also see the launch of a Middle Eastern concept on George Street and a Totti’s-inspired Italian eatery and bar on Palings Lane later this year.