Passing through the velvet curtains into the Apollo Inn, a 30-seat cocktail bar by chef and restaurateur Andrew McConnell and his partner Jo McGann, feels like stepping into another era.

This old world-inspired spot occupies the ground floor of McDonald House – a neo-Renaissance style building – and is full of cosy seating, low lighting and warm timber panelling reminiscent of the early 20th century.

Behind the bar, you’ll find signature cocktails such as the Lucien Gaudin featuring gin, Campari, dry vermouth and Grand Marnier; and the Picon Biere, herbaceous house-made amaro paired with crisp French lager. Plus, there are four types of Martini (Dry, Dirty, Cafe and Gibson) and a concise list of wines by the bottle and glass. Guests also have access to Gimlet's 300-bottle cellar.

It wouldn’t be a McConnell venture without excellent food. There’s no real kitchen here, but about 10 small rotating dishes are available daily. Think scallops, oysters, beef carpaccio, spicy soppressata salami on toast and a prawn and spanner crab club sandwich. There’s always dessert, too, such as crème caramel or a profiterole with ice-cream and chocolate sauce.

McConnell and McGann worked with Acme, the same design firm behind Gimlet, to bring Apollo Inn to life. Its name honours the history of Cavendish House, the elegant Russell Street building that holds McConnell’s award-winning restaurant Gimlet just 50 metres away. The initial structure on that site was the Apollo Inn, which was demolished in the early 1900s.

In its heyday, you could step into the bluestone holstery and grab a drink. That spirit continues here, where walk-ins are encouraged. So too are conversations with the bartenders about whipping up an off-menu drink, to pair with whatever mood you happen to be in.

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Updated: February 13th, 2024

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