The hackneyed catch-cry of “location, location, location” is almost as relevant to the food and beverage industry as it is to housing. And perhaps more than with a restaurant or a club, a bar’s address is vital to its success. The key is setting up the right sort of bar in the right spot.
The Igors group knows this better than most, with bars like Stormies, which dominates the main LKF intersection, perfectly positioned to tap the local vibe.
However, Wyndham Street is a different proposition. Here, blaring out Summer of ’69 and Sweet Child O’ Mine won’t guarantee success. Here, the chic wining, dining and partying vibe of venues such as Wagyu, Goccia and dragon-i rule.
Now, in the prime real estate formerly occupied by Frog Face Fish, the Igors group has ventured into the semi-luxury market and opened Tonic, a bar in keeping with the Wyndham Street aesthetic and clearly aimed at the largely expat crowd of bankers, lawyers and other cashed-up professionals who congregate along one of the city’s hottest nightlife strips.
Angled glass doors at Tonic’s broad entrance rotate, cleverly blurring the indoor-outdoor divide. Inside, the bar has an earthy elemental focus, encompassing a raft of clashing textures such as mirrors, a marble bar, wooden floors, a subtle waterfall and cobblestone walls. Although the concept is cool, the space feels slightly over-designed , a bit too angular and sterile, lacking the warmth of a bar such as Tivo.
With a couch hugging the perimeter and bar tables sparsely dotted around the walls and entrance, there’s plenty of room for standing and, as the night progresses and the curtains are drawn, dancing. Given that Tonic is going for classy-cum-party feel, its music selection is perplexing, playing a questionable mix of deep house, funk and straight-up pop, including Lionel Richie. We even heard a Backstreet Boys ballad blaring out of Tonic close to midnight on a Friday – we’ll let you decide whether that’s good or bad.
Drinks-wise, Tonic covers the field with a balanced, wide-ranging menu that tends towards the luxurious end of the scale. Champagne is probably the best represented beverage, including non-vintages, jeroboams, methuselahs and the entire range of Louis Roederer, from the non-vintage Premier ($128) to the three-litre Cristal ($29,800/bottle). It also carries a decent range of premium spirits, including Beluga Gold vodka ($198), the recently launched Shanghai White vodka ($95) and Patron Platinum tequila ($238/glass). Drinks are served with complimentary smoked salmon or bocconcini canapés – a nice touch.
Overall, Tonic has stuck to the proven Wyndham Street formula of modern decor and high-end drinks. It may not be ground-breaking or even as sexy as some of its neighbours, but Tonic’s general concept, coupled with its prime location, means its success is all but guaranteed.
43-55 Wyndham St, Central, 2537 8010; www.igors.com. H/H 5pm-8pm.