Merivale has opened a cocktail bar inspired by 1920s Paris

Merivale’s latest, an old-world-France-inspired cocktail bar, has opened in Sydney’s CBD ivy precinct.

Next door to its latest high-end restaurant Felix, Little Felix’s bartending team is cherrypicked from the group’s cocktail bars, and aims to channel the Ritz or Harry’s New York Bar. Think waiters in vests and bowties.

The food, designed by Felix head chef Nathan Johnson is largely charcuterie, cheese and other simple snacks designed to prop up the drinks list, which centres on classic, unembellished cocktails, wine and Champagne.

“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 menu has only eight cocktails that reference classics.

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,” says Egerton.

Sommeliers Franck Moreau and Jean-Charles Mahe have pulled together a long by-the-glass list of wines in magnums only, which are housed in a custom fridge built for large bottles. The loyalty to magnums is to add to the theatre of the service, Egerton says. 

“Whilst a magnum contains twice the volume of a standard bottle, its neck size and air content remain the same. This allows the wine to mature slowly, creating great nuances and more complex flavours”, says Moreau.

Little Felix is the first of four new bars and eateries to open in Merivale’s ivy laneways this year. The expansion is a part of CEO 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. 

Further details on each new venue will be announced soon.

Photography: Nikki To.