Occupying the first floor of a sandstone building built in 1845 for the Australian Gaslight Company – a five-storey structure that stands out amid office and residential towers – Solera Bar is intimate and sumptuous. The space has a lounge feel: it sits 100 people across two spaces and has ornate and modern interiors complete with a gilded marble and blue tile bar; warm wood; and velvet seating in deep blues and greens. There’s a small outdoor space with Australian natives, and the lift has been transformed into a private booth.
The bar’s entrance features tracks from the old rail system that once carried coal from the wharf that was here. “We’re a hidden venue in a heritage building [near] a massive development,” says co-owner Roman Kristek, speaking of its location moments away from Barangaroo.
A big focus of the drinks menu at Solera is champagne (“There’s no sparkling wine here,” says Kristeka). The list includes big names such as Moët & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot and lesser-known, difficult-to-find small producers such as Leclerc Briant, Jérome Dehours and Ulysse Collin.
Marian Beke of The Gibson in London was recruited to develop the cocktail list. There’s an Apple of Louisiana, served in a vessel with a shapely blown-glass tube similar to a teapot spout. Toasted rye is poured over absinthe jelly and drops of rock sugar are added for a caramel finish. The drink is stirred with ice and the glass topped with a shortbread-cookie lid. A shot of cider is served on the side to cleanse the palate.
The food menu, by Tony Gibson (Ruby & Rach, Astral), will launch in mid-January. Solera doesn’t have a full kitchen, so he has built a deli offering based on his Reuben sandwiches, made with sous vide corned beef and pastrami and brined Australian Wagyu beef, sauerkraut and bialy rolls.
36 Hickson Road, Millers Point