Love it or loathe it, Solas was an institution, a popular spot for a pissed-up boogie on Wyndham Street. Its replacement, Halcyon, may come from the same stable but it seems to be a more sophisticated upgrade. On entering, we note how the space has drastically changed. There’s a large bar, a DJ box with a neon ‘no requests’ sign burning above it, some booths, some semi-alfresco tables and a host of vinyl records lining the bar and hanging from the ceiling. It’s got an industrial-chic-meets-lounge vibe punctuated by good tunes. We love it.
Halcyon is managed by James French and Austen Lendrum, formerly of QRE Plaza’s MyHouse and Mahalo respectively, so we’re looking forward to the cocktail menu. We start with the Smoke and Bones ($128), a blend of Smokehead whisky with black pepper and bone marrow fat washed with fresh ginger. It’s not great, sadly. The flavours are a little unbalanced, with the black pepper placing the concoction on the bitter side. The bone marrow also makes the drink slightly oily. French asks how it is and we say we’re not enjoying it. So he asks if we’d like another, doesn’t charge us for it and gets top marks for professionalism. We switch to the Candy Mountain ($128), a tipple made up of Fair quinoa vodka, homemade strawberry and chilli red wine shrub, lemon juice and egg whites. It’s much better, boasting a satisfying balance of sweet and sour, even if the fruit and chillis don’t come through enough.
A bar must be judged on the sum of its parts. And Halcyon is a top space, a standout in the Wyndham rabble. Yes, we sample a poor cocktail but we’re not basing our review on the beverages alone. We loved French’s and Lendrum’s drinks at MyHouse and Mahalo, so we’re sure improvements are on their way here. And if they’re not, Halcyon is certainly a five-star spot for beers, wines and spirits in a superb space. Solas: you’re already a drunken memory.
60 Wyndham Street