Ah, champagne: drink of fabulous socialites and extravagant occasions. We searched Australia high and low for our most sparkling wine bars: places that celebrate unbridled dedication to its service, history, presentation… and flavour. Here, 10 of the best. By Edward Washington
The Champagne & Oyster Bar, The Atlantic, Melbourne
Open since mid-2011, The Atlantic has more recently added a dedicated champagne and oyster Bar. Designed by the Melbourne-based designer Blackmilk, Atlantic (and its underground bar, The Den) mixes classical elements with modern touches and the result is a streamlined interior that exudes a warm and welcoming atmosphere – the perfect environment for a glass of France’s best. The new addition centres around the ‘thrill of the oyster’ (all shucked to order). Matched with the Atlantic’s dedicated wine program you’ll be able to enjoy premium quality seafood and champagne well into the night.
Go for: Open till 1am seven nights a week, the Champagne and oyster menu on offer is an absolute treat.
Must Wine Bar, Perth
If you’re visiting Australia’s western most state, then Must’s champagne lounge is your one-stop-shop. Set upstairs at this award-winning wine bar, the lounge offers a sensational selection of champagne houses to choose from, including Dom Pérignon, Lanson and Bollinger – boasting one of the widest ranges in the country, in fact. Sit back, relax and treat yourself to some fine offerings, all while soaking up the plush interior and nibbling on a delicious selection of menu items that head chef Andre Mahé and chef/partner Russell Blaikie have put together to match their sensational wine list.
Go for: The range of champagnes on offer and the venue’s dedication to offering a ‘champagne experience’.
Eau de Vie, Sydney
This aptly-named ‘water of life’ cocktail bar is discretely nestled on Sydney’s Darlinghurst Street. What you’ll find is a dimly-lit, secluded and warming and tippling environment, perfect for a round of champagne cocktails and some intricately-prepared bar snacks. Prepare yourself though – the highly-skilled bartenders at this speakeasy make a habit of opening every bottle of champagne with some Napoleonic ‘flash’ – that is, they sabre off the bottle head using their very own French sword and serve it straight into fine flutes at the bar. Sensational cocktails and champagne aside, the darkened tones of the timber walls and bar top are cleverly punctuated by bright and alluring artworks by Todd White, and these are definitely worth a squiz in their own right. See Eau De Vie
Go for: The sabering of the champagne bottle – you’ll find it nowhere else – and the exquisite cocktails on offer.
Velluto Champagne and Wine Bar, Sydney
Despite being named as one of the top 10 bars by The Daily Telegraph in 2011, Velluto remains one of Sydney’s best-kept secrets. It’s hard to understand why this venue escapes the eye of Sydney’s more avid tipplers, as inside it is refined luxury set with plush seating, romantic lighting and rich sandstone walls. Backing up its decadent feel, the range of champagne that you can choose from is certainly a delight for any sparkling enthusiast. Ruinart blanc de blanc, Tattinger and Veuve non-vintage all make an appearance, as do some more prestigious offerings – such as the Perrier-Jouët Belle Époque 2004 vintage and Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 1999.
Go for: Settle in on the weekend with regular jazz performances matched to a glass of fizz. velluto.com.au
The Belle Epoque Lounge, Spice Market, Melbourne
Lavishly-appointed Spice Market is a melting pot of striking interiors – rich colours and decadent trappings, inspired by both Middle and Far-Eastern style; the kind of place that would impress a Pharaoh. And nowhere is the sumptuousness more apparent than in Spice Market’s dedicated champagne lounge, Belle Epoque – so named after Europe’s most celebratory period, in which champagne was consumed like never before. Sit on a plush, rounded couch, raise your glass to the ceiling of the internal temple (really) and give thanks to the God of bubbles. Created in collaboration with Perrier-Jouet champagne, this is how champagne was meant to be enjoyed.
Go for: The mix of music, glamour and the chance to seclude yourself away with friends in your own champagne temple.
Peterson Champagne House, Hunter Valley, NSW
A worthwhile stop for an out-of-Sydney adventure that won’t break your budget, or blowout the travel itinerary. Peterson Champagne House is nestled away in the Hunter Valley. Just head north out of the city and once you arrive you’ll have swapped the bustling high-rise town centre for rolling vineyards, clear open skies and long dirt roads. Peterson Champagne House is a dedicated sparkling wine house and has been producing its traditional, French-method Australian sparkling since 1995. Matching the house-made sparkling is their dedicated oyster bar, so take the time to relax on the wooden deck over a dozen Port Stephens oysters, a glass of the local sparkling and take in the full panorama of the Hunter Valley region.
Go for: A definite excuse to get out of Sydney. The Hunter Valley is certainly worth a visit, especially for the wine enthusiast. petersonhouse.com.au
The Lyall Hotel, Melbourne
The Lyall is one of Melbourne’s boutique five-star hotel offerings situated in South Yarra. Everything you could possibly need is in-house, turning this small hotel offering into its very own destination hotspot. Included in this ‘everything’ is the Lyall champagne bar, a cosy lounge that transforms into a welcome retreat for the avid shopper after a day out.
Take a seat at the bar and enjoy a glass of champagne from the menu, or settle in with a friend at a table for two and rehash the day’s events over a bottle.
Go for: The chance to enjoy some classic Melbourne hospitality without the hassle of a bigger volume hotel. And your own, dedicated champagne bar.
The Morrison Bar & Oyster Room, Sydney
The Morrison Bar and Oyster Room is a newish addition to the Sydney scene, showcasing the new level of dining you can expect around town. White kitchen tiles offset dark and heavy interior wood panelling, while a dedicated oyster program and a smart list of sparkling wines will keep you in cheerful company. The kitchen offering is under the guidance of internationally-recognised chef Sean Connolly (formerly Astral and Sean’s Kitchen), and has a strong focus on ‘in the shell’ and ‘on the bone’ cooking to match your choice of bubbles and oysters.
Go for: The chance to sit at the prominent centre bar and order from a range of nearly 30 types of oysters, shucked to order and matched to a glass of bubbles.
Cabiria Luncheonette & Oyster Bar, Brisbane
There’s a strong nod toward Italy on Cabiria’s wine list, but don’t be put off: this is a Champagne destination through and through. Why? Because of the absolute dedication to luxury here. (The champagnes available by the glass don’t hurt, either). Take a seat inside, order some dishes from the great selection on offer (including smoked mackerel pate, country terrine or the house charcuterie plate, plus the obligatory selection of oysters shucked to order), and sit back and relax. From the intimate nature of the bar seating, to the delicate finesse of the dishes they serve, this luncheonette serves up more than a sandwich.
Go for: Possibly one of the best ‘sit at the bar and enjoy great food and wine’ experiences going around. All class – and service with substance. cabiria.com.au
Put on your best and get ready to get heady. Extravagant lounge Hemmesphere is an original icon of Sydney’s champagne lifestyle, and no wonder: tucked away in one of Sydney’s most exclusive nightlife playgrounds – the Establishment Hotel – it’s managed to stay at the forefront of the high-end nightlife scene by never letting up on its dedication to finesse. Grab yourself a tight-knit group of champagne enthusiasts, sink into the plush lounges that adorn the level four venue and share a few ice-cold bottles of French elegance brought to your table by swishing, black-clad hostesses.
Go for: A champagne experience that just can’t be reproduced anywhere else. Hemmesphere’s high-class matches the refined nature of champagne to a tee.