The Speakeasy Group doesn’t do things by halves. When it opens a whisky bar it offers more than 800 bottles (Melbourne’s Boilermaker House). When it creates a bar with a Viking theme (Redfern’s Mjolner), it dresses its staff in leather tunics, delivers drinks in horns and carves whole birds at the table. Now, on an impressive piece of rooftop real estate, the group has opened Nick and Nora’s, probably the most brazenly opulent and luxurious venue in Sydney.
The idea is to make people feel like they’ve stepped into the house of Nick and Nora, a fictional crime-fighting duo from the 1934 film, and Dashiell Hammett novel The Thin Man. They drink cocktails and champagne, eat oysters and fine cheeses, and their house looks like an Art Deco theme park. “We love venues with slightly imaginary settings. They are the thread that ties it all together,” says Speakeasy’s Sven Almenning.
The space is the rooftop of the V By Crown building on Macquarie Street in Parramatta. Its 26 floors show off views of the Blue Mountains, the city and all the cranes and skyline-in-progress of Parramatta and beyond. “This is very different to anything we've done; it has windows,” Almenning says, laughing.
In two years, Speakeasy and Studio Y have turned a concrete shell into a preposterously lavish 300-person bar. The venue offers a couple of different spaces and experiences, each meticulously detailed and with Art Deco lamps. There’s a “date space” with views and two-seater tables with ornate buzzers to call staff with. The outdoor lounges have champagne buckets built into their frames. Booking the plush boardroom gives you access to a presentation screen and a private cigar balcony.
“The idea is not to recreate an Art Deco venue but to bring that style to 2018,” says Greg Sanderson, Almenning’s creative partner in the Speakeasy Group.
Because Nick and Nora are detectives with busy lives, there’s no cooking going on. All the food at this party is cold and ready to eat, such as oysters, terrines, cheese, charcuterie, gravlax and caviar.
The selection of drinks is extensive. The cocktails are organised by personality type. The “femme fatal” page is stocked with Martinis. The “snitch” with sours and the “hard-boiled detective” collections include the whisky and rye concoctions. And there’s heavy use of liquid nitrogen to make theatrical creations. There are more than 600 bottles of whisky available and 60 or so champagnes to choose from. If you want to go all out you can get a champagne tower delivered to your table.
“Bars are different to other industries – a lot of what you can buy [in a bar] you could just go to a bottle store to get it for less, so we want to make sure the guest has a good experience. It's more than just the drink, it's about the experience, the theatre. It’s the wow you can’t have at home,” says Almenning. “Champagne towers are theatrical as fuck and I love it.”
Nick and Nora’s
Level 26, 45 Macquarie Street, Parramatta
(02) 8646 4923
Mon to Thu 5pm–12am
Sat & Sun 12pm–12am
This article was updated on November 21, 2018. It first appeared on Broadsheet on September 24, 2018. Menu items may have changed since publication.