Finding yourself under the high ceilings of a grand, luxury hotel's lobby can make you feel like you've travelled much further than just into the centre of the city. Especially at the Sofitel Darling Harbour, where the hotel brand's decidedly French influences and modern, art-filled entryway make you feel transported before you even taste its new, travel-inspired cocktail menu.
Designed to temporarily quench your wanderlust, the Festive Cocktails menu will be served at the Champagne Bar on the hotel's third floor until January 3. You'll find the bar nestled between Atelier, the hotel's modern Australian restaurant, and expansive, glass-walled views out over Darling Harbour's waterfront promenade.
The boozy menu is inspired by the hotel's global presence, and draws inspiration from famous names behind the bars of other Sofitels around the globe. The Miss Faubourg, a signature recipe created by Aurélie Bourre, bar manager at the Sofitel Paris, will transport you to the Champs Elysées on a spring evening. It's got Champagne (of course), a homemade distillation of strawberries, a tart Maraschino liqueur and hibiscus syrup. Failing Paris itself, it's made for sipping at the Sofitel's Champagne Bar, preferably under the netting strung over the bar's centre ceiling: the silvery wire glimmers drips with real, glinting Swarovski crystals. Magnifique.
For a sunnier kind of getaway, try the Fiji-inspired cocktail, courtesy of Clément Cujus, the heady of mixology at Fiji's Sofitel: it's got an intoxicating, tropical blend of orange and cardamom-infused rum, kaffir lime juice, mango purée, cinnamon syrup, and a creamy infusion of lemongrass sorbet. Urbanites and city-dwellers might prefer the Earl of Manhattan – a punchy, aromatic number that balances the spice of small-batch Woodford Reserve bourbon with the bite of vermouth. It has its origins in a recipe from Gaby Bar at Sofitel New York. The Mexican Eagle puts a spin on the beloved, classic summer cocktail, the Marg, by using gin, chartreuse, mezcal, lemon juice, and celery bitters. The Ratatouille has got to be most unusual one, though – it takes the popular peasant dish of vegetables – we all know it from the eponymous Disney film, of course – and turns it into a drink: it's a boozy mix of Cointreau, lime juice, wine foam, and yes, actual ratatouille. It's gone down a treat at Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua, so who are we to resist?
On New Year's Eve, the whole hotel gets a little shakeup. While the cocktails are otherwise available at the Champage Bar all month long, for one night only, you can hop on a little world tour by moving through the different floors of the hotel as the festive cocktails are designated for drinking in separate areas: head to the Champagne Bar for the Miss Faubourg, the infinity pool-hemmed Rivage rooftop bar for the tropical Sunset on Fijiland, or the extremely exclusive Club Millesime (usually it's reserved only for members, or those who have booked king suites, but on NYE only, they're opening it up to the public) for the Earl of Manhattan.
If you want to grab dinner as well, you can book in at the Atelier – executive chef Eric Costille, who has travelled far and wide in his own career (his last stint was in Macau) will have you sorted with a menu influenced by the far-flung grand hotels, from Hanoi to Amsterdam to Colombia. Dishes include a kingfish ceviche; sweet and sour Filipino fish; and a classically French canard à l‘orange, which features duck alongside vanilla-glazed turnips, celeriac purée and tender enoki mushrooms. Pastry chef Puti Firmansyah will have you covered for sweets – but it's up to you to decide whether you'll succumb to her chocolate crème brûlée with bitter orange Cointreau sorbet, or take her up on a fruity, hibiscus pavlova with strawberries and a citrusy confit. The New Year's Eve menu is $169 for adults, and $59 for children.