Deep in the core of the Embassy theatre, you'll find The Black Sparrow- the spirited little cocktail bar with a cultural sensibility, art deco outlook and a cracking drinks list.
Open all the time and running concurrently to screenings upstairs, the space makes use of the old orchestra theatre pit of the cinema. Used originally to provide sound for the silent films of the 20s and filled with detritus for some sixty years, its resurrection as The Black Sparrow is undoubtedly the space's best interpretation yet.
Designed by Shelley Indyk, Sydney-based architect, the Black Sparrow's art deco tone is set by its entrance: punters reach the bar down a striking arched tunnel that opens into a beautifully considered fit out. Harking back to the days when going to the movies was seen as an escape to the rich, glamorous world of Hollywood, the space communicates the Embassy's history of cinematic escape since its establishment in 1924.
The Sparrow's premise intertwines with this world: named for the eccentric 1960s publishing house Black Sparrow Press, acclaimed for printing novelists such as Bukowski, the drinks list is suitably literature-inspired.
On my visit, my cocktailing companion and I opted first for the cocktail list (figures, right?). Coincidentally, our first round was pisco-centric: On the Road, a sour built with Chilean pisco and a merlot float ($16) complemented Deepest Darkest Peru, the Sparrow's most popular drop made from pisco, rosé and passionfruit ($14). Standouts on the wine and beer lists that we tried were the Te Mata Gamay Noir ($10.50 glass, $45 bottle), or the Garage Project Garagista brew ($11.50 glass). A range of mocktails are also available, all sporting names of some of Roald Dahl's best works (this is your chance to try Frobscottle! $9 glass). If you've arrived a little early for your movie and haven't had the chance to grab a bite to eat, tapas are available- I highly recommend the Haloumi sliders ($12) or the calamari and harissa mayo ($12.50). Eyeing up the desserts menu, we selected a boozy sundae to finish- its Kapiti summer nectarine and Stolen Gold-infused nectarine concoction ($11) sounded too good not to try.
Before concluding this spectacular establishment, special mention must go to the attentive staff- any silly questions we had about ingredients, curiosities or the history of the Embassy were looked after by the dapper and friendly lot behind the bar.