Nick and Nora's
A comprehensive champagne list is carved up by flavour profile into “crisp and elegant” and “rich and toasty” domains, and there are plenty of other bubbly varieties, from easy-drinking cava to Victorian prosecco. The starting point is around $17 a glass, scaling up to a $2200 bottle of single-vineyard Salon Cuvée ‘S’ Blanc de Blancs. There’s also a ridiculously large, party-starting nebuchadnezzar– a 15-litre bottle – of Mumm, though it’s reserved for events, as is the champagne tower (a pyramid of champagne coupes with Mumm Petit Cordon and Ruinart cascading down).
Cocktails are no less inventive than at the group’s other bars. The Asa Akira is a variation on a Dirty Martini, combining Plymouth Gin with sake and melon-brine, and served in a glass super-chilled with liquid nitrogen. Liquid nitrogen also lends itself to some theatrical foams and mousses. The Cafe Noir is rum, coffee and sweet sherry stirred down and topped with a nitrogen-made mousse of saffron, tonka bean and vanilla, with fog tumbling all around as it hits the table in front of you. The Jiminy Cricket plays off the classic lurid green Grasshopper, but adds pandan and celery bitters. The ingredients are fat-washed, a method of infusing fat (in this case cream) into the cocktail to clarifiy the liquid, turning the formerly opaque drink crystal clear.
Champagne cocktails are made with a choice of Mumm, Perrier-Jouët or Ruinart, and there are also four-person jumbo punch bowls – one tropical take combines Havana Club rum, Amaro Montenegro, pineapple and yuzu. The bowls themselves are eclectic, and include a huge bronze swan.
Food is typical of the cocktail party atmosphere, with plenty of cheese, charcuterie and canapés. The chicharrón – fried pork rind – is made with crispy beef fat and served with mussel cream and ras el hanout, a Moroccan spice blend. Smoked eel and caviar sit atop blini – tiny pancakes – while the hotdog-sized lobster brioche roll is big on melted butter.
The design, by Melbourne’s Studio Y, follows an art deco theme, lending geometric patterns to carpets, wallpapers and light fixtures, with glints of gold and bronze offset by soft velvet drapes. It’s huge for a cocktail bar, with table service for 240 people across five separate rooms and three balconies. The multitude of nooks and hideaways definitely lends the space a house party feel, but you won’t forget you’re in a space where mixed drinks are taken seriously – if the cocktails don’t drive that home, the commanding 11-metre-long emerald marble bar will.