At an intimate event held last week, the Charles Bar (found at 66 King St in the Sydney CBD) held a tasting of Grower Champagne, and spotlighted new drinks on its cocktail menu.
Director of Wine Paolo Saccone led guests through a blind tasting of conventional House Champagne, alongside more unorthodox Grower Champagne – the term used to describe wines where the producer uses grapes from their own vineyard.
Prior to the event, Paolo explained why the bar had had such a strong focus on Champagne and particularly Grower Champagne.
“I’m a big lover of Champagne, that’s the first step, but we decided to be so heavily involved with Champagne because I felt that there is a constant image of Champagne as a celebratory drink, or as an aperitif.
“However, our vision at the Charles and Etymon Projects is to educate our guests, and really empower the fact that Champagne is a wine that can be drunk all the way through a meal.
“For instance, there are wines that are made from 60 to 100 per cent Pinot Noir, which is a red grape, but the wines are white, and have this great, rich complexity, structure and elegancy that could easily match with poultry, oily fish or even meat.”
And with Grower Champagne, Paolo believes this is an area where the Charles has a competitive advantage.
“The other point we have taken into consideration when having this extensive Champagne list, is the fact of really having exclusivity over some of the smallest growers from France, from Champagne. And to really educate our guests with a focus towards the smaller and sustainable growers.”
Paolo also highlighted the venue’s use of a Coravin system to make rarer and more expensive wines available by the glass.
Director of Bars, Jonathan ‘Jono’ Carr (pictured in the header) explained to Bars & Clubs how the updated cocktail menu expressed the venue’s European inspiration, and how the drinks list subtly changed across the three venues at 66 King Street.
“You’ve got the Charles Bar, which is that European, all day, bar à vin, open from 7am ‘til late. It’s that space for your first coffee, or your last cocktail,” Jono says.
Jono explains that across the three venues (The Charles Bar, the Charles Brasserie and Tivo – a basement live music lounge) there is a core of consistent cocktails available. These are largely classics, including a Martini that is served in Japanese Sake jugs, which have a dedicated container for packed ice, to keep the drink cold.
“And then there’s the seasonal part of the menu, which is another eight cocktails. And they reflect each space – so for instance, the Charles Bar being that all day venue, there’s drinks on there like a great Bloody Mary, a Reverse Martini, if you wanted to have that two Martini lunch, but responsibly.
“And another delicious cocktail which is the Club Brasserie, which has some of those European flavours like Cherry Herring and French Tarragon, with some nods to the food element there.” Jono says.
See the recipe for Club Brasserie here.
Seasonality, Jono says, “means working together with the team on having a weekly cocktail that utilises fresh ingredients that are seasonal, and then consistent seasonal menu changes.
“The previous one was summer into spring, and then the next major change which is upcoming will be those colder, winter warmer, cocktails.”
Wines tasted at the event were:
1. NV Fleury Blanc de Noirs (100% Pinot Noir) Courteron, Cote des Bars, Champagne
2. NV Moët & Chandon ‘Imperial’ Reims, Montagne De Reims
3. NV Bulles de Comptoirs #10 Tchin Tchin Aube, Cote des Bars
4. 2021 Pierrick Laroche Domaine des Hâtes, Chablis, Burgundy
5. 2021 Graci Etna Bianco Sicily, Italy