A new bar north of the bridge boasts a collection of A-list owners and some damn tasty wine
Wander down to the end of Young Lane in Neutral Bay and be greeted by a small bar owned by some not-so-small names. Sam Neill, David Wenham, George Gregan, Rob Sitch and Phil Waugh are all behind the Local Bar, a little haven of good wine and great charcuterie in Neutral Bay.
A mural of frolicking carp by graffitti artist Mr Perso is brushed across the back wall and a tray of vintage crystal decanters holding house-infused spirits sits atop the bar, setting a sort of speakeasy vibe. Many of those house-infused spirits find their way into cocktails like the frothy and orange-scented blueberry gin sour (mixed with the bar’s own blueberry gin) – fresh lemon, a splash of orange juice and house-made marmalade, which hits the perfect balance of sweet and sour. The In Neutral is also a scarily easy-to-sip glass of smashed cucumber and apple shaken with fresh lime, Spanish spiced liquor and a kick of ginger beer. They’re all only ten bucks on Sundays.
When it comes to the Local’s sizeable range of charcuterie, the flight of three sherries matched with slices of wagyu bresaola, jamon serrano and prosciutto is hard to beat. The wine list is where the bar flexes some real muscle. Sam Neill’s own New Zealand winery, Two Paddocks, features up front and center. The 2009 Two Paddocks Picnic pinot noir is fine grained and juicy and (when in Rome) the only thing to drink with a duck terrine with beetroot relish.
Service is attentive and genuine, and the bar staff are equally as excited to pour some unusual wines – like an apricot-laden sweet muscat from Corsica or an Italian soave garganega – as we are to drink them. If you buy a bottle of wine and don’t feel up to drinking the lot in one sitting, the boys behind the bar will keep it for you for 24 hours, ready and waiting for you to return the following night to polish it off.
You might assume that a group of personalities with a résumé including Jurassic Park, The Lord of the Rings and numerous rugby triumphs could do just about anything they put their minds to, and we’re positive that Sam Neill is secretly a superhero, but do too many celebrities spoil the bar? Thankfully, not in this case.