Previously an overflow for the restaurant downstairs, the first-floor space above One Penny Red has been transformed into a smart new neighbourhood bar. Vernon's Bar offers barrel-aged Negronis, an imaginative wine list, and bar food from the One Penny Red kitchen.
“The space was previously a mirror image of downstairs,” says co-owner Nina Alidenes. “But we wanted it to have its own identity; make it more appealing to people who just want to pop in and have a glass of wine or a pint of beer,” she says.
The bar is named for Walter Liberty Vernon, the NSW state-government architect responsible for designing the old Summer Hill post office which houses One Penny Red and Vernon's. One Penny Red's name is an ode to the red, British postage stamp issued in 1841.
Evidence of Vernon's handiwork is still on display. The most striking feature is the gorgeous sandstone balcony that looks out over Summer Hill's leafy streets. Inside, a former office is now a private room, decorated with a floor-to-ceiling wine rack and a display of rare stamps. The main gathering area features dark-green walls, leather banquettes and dangling lights. The old mail hoist remains from the days when the space was the sorting room of the post office.
To drink, there's beer from Batch, Modus Operandi and 4 Pines. The wine list, selected by co-owner David Murphy, represents the top 50 bottles from One Penny Red's cellar, with eight reds and eight whites available by the glass. There are five G&T options, plus barrel-aged Negronis. Other cocktails include the Basil Gimlet (vodka, basil and elderflower) and the Shiso Sour (Japanese whisky, shiso leaf and absinthe).
Chef RJ Lines's food menu offers quick and casual takes on what's served downstairs. There's a falafel board, a smoked-beef-brisket bagel, and salt-cod fritters. Chef Lines's fried-chicken wing dings – which started out as a favourite One Penny Red staff meal – are also available.