“At Nick and Nora’s, you get taken into the story. The elevator opens up almost directly into Nick and Nora’s apartment.”
This is Greg Sanderson, of The Speakeasy Group, who is all set to open the elevator doors of a brand new boutique venue in Parramatta. With 270 degrees of uninterrupted skyline views, capacity for 300, and a 11-metre long back bar boasting more than 900 spirits, it’s called Nick and Nora’s – and it offers an unprecedented rooftop bar experience.
“The underlying theme creates fun for the guests,” Sanderson says, “but it also creates fun for us in how we can match food and drink offerings with this lavish, roaring 30s, cocktail and canapés, post-prohibition America setting.”
But don’t expect any swinging sixties jazz, or string pearls.
“We’re not trying to entirely recreate Nick and Nora’s 1934 apartment,” Sanderson says. “We’ve got some art deco flourishes and some tips-of-the-hat to the design of yesteryear, but we want to bring the couple’s legendary soiree’s and love for all things cocktail into 2018. To put it into words, it’s funky house with jazz vibes – definitely not 1920’s jazz.”
Inspired by the character’s from Dashiell Hammett’s 1934 novel, The Thin Man, Nick and Nora’s is the 6th venue from The Speakeasy Group. Sanderson, along with his partner Sven Almenning, are the innovative duo behind such venues as Boilmaker House, Roosevelt and Mjolner – the Viking inspired bar in Redfern where you choose your own weapon on arrival.
“Our philosophy is we create venues we want to hang out in,” he says. “We think about what we like and what we want to drink, rather than thinking too much about trends.”
In their conceptions and executions of boutique venues the pair are all about originality, and creating great venues with a “unique feel”. While they do take inspiration from various other places they visit and experiences they have, Sanderson says they try not to look too closely at what competitors are doing and instead focus on the kind of place they’d love themselves.
“I know Parramatta’s had a few chain style restaurants put into place,” Sanderson says, “whereas this is 100% original. Picture a private party at an awesome New York penthouse with art deco flourishes, complete with numerous champagne towers, trays brimming with Martinis and crowds of well-dressed people dancing to upbeat and eclectic funk as the sun sets in the distance.”
“... Picture a private party at an awesome New York penthouse with art deco flourishes, complete with numerous champagne towers, trays brimming with Martinis and crowds of well-dressed people dancing to upbeat and eclectic funk as the sun sets in the distance.”
Nick and Nora’s is located on the 26th Floor of V by Crown, has enormous capacity, and boasts killer views all the way to Sydney Harbour on one side and the Blue Mountains on the other. Sanderson says they had never conceived of Parramatta as a location for their next project, but when they saw the site they just couldn’t resist.
“Parramatta was never on our radar,” Sanderson says. “We haven’t really been out there too much but then we got shown this site and we thought we could do something very special. We thought we could do a venue that was amazing for Australia, let alone for Parramatta.”
Located in the heart of Sydney, the appeal for Nick and Nora’s is likely to be huge. Sanderson is particularly excited about the many different function spaces available for venue hire.
“We have a lot of availability. Local business won’t need to take staff into the city for Christmas parties or work parties, now we’ve got this amazing venue in Parramatta where businesses can host events and take clients.”
And Sanderson has already spoken with locals in the area who can’t wait to unwrap a cigar on the sprawling balcony, or down a hard-earned whiskey sour against the backdrop of the setting sun.
“We have that advantage of being the first bar of this kind in the area,” he says. “Rather than having to stay in the city to go to somewhere after work, people can come back closer to home.”
And, upon arriving home, what could possibly be more welcoming than a plateful of caviar and a hanging meat and cheese fridge?
The food at Nick and Nora’s is all canapés and tapas, and there’s a custom built meat and cheese fridge that’s suspended from the ceiling above where the chef works. With more than 30 cheeses on offer from around the world, along with cured meats and caviar, the menu is centered around the Raw Food bar.
“There’s no stove up here,” Sanderson says, “so everything is easy to share, easy to pick up with your hands. We’ll send around tasting for groups who stay all afternoon, we have 4 types of oysters, we’ve got some of the world’s best caviar.”
By the looks of it, the only problem at Nick and Nora’s is choice – with a huge cognac collection, 600 whiskeys on the back bar, and a humble 50-70 champagnes to choose from.
“For the novice I recommend a blanc de blanc,” Sanderson says. “It’s a bit more delicate than the heavier vintages. But we want you to feel comfortable coming in here and talking to us about what you like, what you’re comfortable with, and we can look after you from there.”
And look after you they will, if booze is your thing. After all, a love of all things liquor is at the heart and soul of Nick and Nora’s relationship – What hit me? Nora says, suffering from a hangover. The last martini, Nick replies.
“That’s what sparked our imagination,” Sanderson says. “They drink a lot of booze. They’re such famous characters in the hardboiled detective genre, and they literally just drink booze all the time. They love booze just like we love booze. The martinis will be one of our hero cocktails.”