Apollonia is a dimly-lit drinking den in the basement of Hinchcliff House – a heritage-listed building and former wool store situated just off Circular Quay transformed by House Made Hospitality group in 2021. The four-level concept also includes all-day diner Grana, upmarket eatery Lana and a sprawling top-floor function space.
Apollonia though, is all about drama and celebration. It takes its name from Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone, the ill-fated wife of Michael Corleone in The Godfather, and is inspired by Bar Vitelli, the real-life Sicilian bar that, famously, featured in the movie.
Parts of the venue were dug from the sandstone back when the building was originally constructed, with even more space hacked out from the rock to enlarge the space for the bar. There are brass-and-gold trimmings and finishes throughout, and the focal bar – with a swirled marble top – complements the historic building's cavernous features.
In addition to a well-considered design, the bar has developed its own Godfather-inspired signature scent for its candles and hand wash, with notes of orange, cherry, rosemary and gunpowder. Custom-made brass stamps are used to mark the ice in its cocktails.
The tight cocktail menu understandably has an Italian focus. It's divided into chapters based on Apollonia’s love story, starring creations, such as the Love at First Sight (gin, strawberry gum, amaro and orange blossom), and the Wedding Procession (macadamia, amaro, bitters and lemon). On tap is a house Negroni featuring Widges gin and the bar’s custom vermouth and Campari. Amari are house-made, using offcut ingredients from the restaurants upstairs.
There’s also a range of Italian and Australian herbal liqueurs, spirits, beers and wines to choose from. The Italian theme carries into the short, sharp list of bar snacks. Think house-milled bread, charcuterie, olives, arancini and a meatball or fried eggplant sub.