Sofitel Queenstown’s 1789 Wine & Jazz Lounge references the year the French Revolution began, its interior reflecting the elegance of that era, while still being at one with the casual vibe of the resort.
“This is the reason for 1789’s red decor – it represents the power and abstract thinking of the time,” says general manager, Jeremy Samuels. “Although our cocktails are key, we are predominantly a wine bar. Sofitel has its roots in France, so we offer a well-stocked French wine cellar. We also stock key New Zealand wines, with our specialty brand being Nevis Bluff.”
Positioned to the rear of the hotel lobby featuring red velvet armchairs and roaring fireplaces, 1789 is a place to sit back and enjoy a glass of wine or to ruminate over chief mixologist, Ben Stewardson’s, designer cocktail list.
“For winter, we are looking at creating a mulled hot chocolate,” says Ben. “Obviously every bar can offer a mulled wine, so we want to give it a new spin. There is a French twist or blend to each cocktail and there will always be a French ingredient.”
A specialty is the Frozen Monty – a gin cocktail made with locally produced gin, The Source, and dry vermouth served with a side of blue cheese, to balance out the strong gin flavour.
“You can take a nibble, then a sip; perhaps cleanse your palate with a splash of water. You choose your own adventure as you’re drinking it,” says Ben.
The wine lounge is close to the mountain transport depot making it a perfect first stop for an après ski session. The hotel’s ski concierge offers a service to look after customers’ ski gear while they relax fireside, and many of Queenstown’s favourite musicians – think local stalwarts Chad, Rachel and Pearly, the soulful Jamaal, and eminent pianist Mark Wilson– perform live jazz and cruisy blues on Friday and Saturday nights.
“There is a misconception that you need to be a bit posh to come in to the Sofitel, but that is not the case. This is Queenstown where nothing is truly formal,” says Jeremy. “Once you’re in the bar, you’re in your own little world and away from the busy street. Personally, after a day on the mountain, I want to be able to unwind. And listening to some cool jazz and sipping a cocktail sounds preferable to a noisy pub.”