Merivale launches new bar in the ivy precinct

09 August, 2019 by Andy Young

Merivale has opened a new French-style cocktail bar called Little Felix, which is the first phase of its evolution of the ivy precinct.

Offering a sophisticated and intimate slice of 1920s Paris in modern day Sydney, Merivale’s Group Bars Manager, Sam Egerton told TheShout that Little Felix acts like a complementary element to the successful Felix restaurant.

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“Traditionally when you get a restaurant in Paris and it’s been around for five-plus years and it’s reached a point where it’s trading well, busy lunch and dinner and starting to run out of space, they will try and find a location nearby where they can do a spot that acts as a complementary element to their existing venue.

“Somewhere people can go for a drink afterwards, or before, somewhere when they’re finishing up from lunch or dinner and they want to keep going. So that’s kind of where the relationship is, but in terms of design and look and feel Little Felix is distinctly different.

“Felix has a lot of white tile, gold and some reds, by comparison Little Felix has a beautiful dark green running through it. It has a comfortable, engaging and inviting feel to it.”

In terms of the cocktail list Egerton said there are eight cocktails that have taken their cues from classic cocktails from the 20s and 30s, but he and the Merivale team have worked to give them some modern touches, while still making them recognisable and approachable.

“When you look at some of the classic Parisian hotel bars from almost 100 years ago, there are some pretty amazing drinks that have stood the test of time,” Egerton said. “We pulled out the Sidecar and French 75 specifically and then another half dozen drinks and used those as a blueprint to help build the cocktail list.

“To find ways to make the drinks more current we thought along the principle if you want great food and drink combinations you should look to drink something from the same place as the product you are eating. So if you want some cheese from Brittany, then drink some cider. So with that thought in mind we’ve used some French provincial ingredients in those classic cocktails and then used some historical information around Australian fringe heritage to rename the drinks.

“So for instance with the French 75, which we call the Paris Meridian it takes the same structure but we use a thyme liqueur which is made in Provence and then use Chandon Blanc de Blanc. So in essence really not trying to miss with either the DNA of these drinks that have been around for over 100 years.”

The bar has a further theatrical flourish which comes courtesy of the wine list curated by sommeliers MS Franck Moreau and Jean-Charles Mahe; wine and champagne served by the glass are poured by magnum and housed in a custom-built fridge next to the bar. Not only do the magnums look impressive, they influence the taste, with 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. This allows the wine to mature slowly, creating great nuances and more complex flavours,” says Moreau. Guests will also be able to choose back vintages from the extensive wine list at neighbouring Felix.

To complement the French wine list, Felix’s head chef Nathan Johnson has designed a simple, elegant menu of charcuterie, cheese and tartines.

Little Felix is now open and is the first of four new bars and eateries to open in the ivy laneways this year and because it has a new licence it is able to trade until 2am.