Emmilou Tapas Bar: Cocktails, Happy Hour and Cinq à Sept in Surry Hills

The French call it cinq à sept, the hours between 5pm and 7pm once reserved for passionate liaisons. In the past, Frenchmen made such visits to their mistresses before dashing home to their wives. Cinq à sept also refers to l’heure de l’apéro, the civilised ritual of partaking in an aperitif and nibbles otherwise known as Happy Hour.

Emmilou Tapas Bar Surry Hills
Drink Until He’s Cute… but what if he’s already cute?

At Emmilou Tapas Bar in Surry Hills, you can indulge in cinq à sept without any guilt. Sit on the Victorian terrace facing Bourke Street, order a Happy Hour cocktail and watch the parade of colourful Darlinghurst locals. Or, if you’re like me and your interests lie behind the scenes, sit facing the dining room and observe the action around the bar.

Emmilou Tapas Bar Surry Hills
The interior

The vibrant interior draws the eye past the bordello chic red walls and Louis Ghost chairs towards the golden bronze bar. The colours are rich and deep, warm and sensual, hinting at passions that no doubt translate into food and drink. An eclectic mix of funky tunes streams through the speakers; the sultry voice of Sade feels right at home in these surrounds.

Emmilou Tapas Bar Surry Hills
The red wall and Louis Ghost chairs

On one wall, a dicton from a Confrérie de Vin is scrawled, Jamais en vain, toujours en vin (never in vain, always in wine). On another, a flat screen television plays snippets of an old movie. Beneath it, a line from a hauntingly seductive French song by Jeane Manson catches my attention. And it takes me back.

Emmilou Tapas Bar Surry Hills
Faisons l’amour avant de nous dire adieu /Let’s make love before we say goodbye (YouTube) and a proposal to Reece

In short, Emmilou exudes European attitude.

Emmilou Tapas Bar Surry Hills
The bar

Chef and owner Chris Cranswick-Smith is the man behind this modern European style tapas bar and cocktail lounge. With an impressive bio that includes working in Michelin star restaurants in Spain and France, including Café de Paris in Biarritz, La Broche in Madrid and The Square in London’s Mayfair, his experiences clearly translate into the food and drink culture at Emmilou.

We met Chris last year at the Salt Book launch at Mumu Grill and popped into Emmilou when it celebrated its third birthday last October. This time, we have an opportunity for a relaxed chat with someone who is as passionate about his work as he is well-travelled. I suspect he is multi-lingual, though I did not get the chance to slip into French and ask.

Part of Emmilou’s charm is the energy surrounding Chris and the welcoming way in which he interacts with his guests. With food, travel and European influences, Chris is the kind of person with whom conversations flow until you remind yourself that you’re not at some dinner party but at a restaurant. And he is the chef.

Emmilou Tapas Bar Surry HillsEmmilou Tapas Bar Surry Hills
The bar – Happy Hour Cocktail: Pear Fizz (left) and Tequila Negra (right)

Back on the terrace, it’s cocktail time with friends visiting out of town and Sweden. I lose track of how many of the Happy Hour Pear Fizz and Tequila Negra are consumed. Don’t be misled by the pink colour of the latter. Made with Tequila and berries, the men at our table declare it a favourite.

Emmilou Tapas Bar Surry HillsEmmilou Tapas Bar Surry Hills
Booze Hound Cocktails: The Love Child cocktail (left) and 10 Counts Martini (right)

The cocktail list is intriguing, inventive and ranges from ‘crowd pleasing’, to ‘adventurous’ and a one that caters for the ‘booze hounds’. The Love Child is a whiskey lover’s delight, delivering a  16 year old single malt Scotch (Laugavaulin) with Pedro Ximinez sherry and whiskey barrel-aged bitters. I order the 10 Counts Martini, made with Tanqueray no. 10 gin, a hint of antica formula sweet vermouth, Campari and a grapefruit twist, to which I immediately declare my lust. Must like the inscription below.

Emmilou Tapas Bar Surry Hills

We are yet to dine at Emmilou, but unlike the song above, there will be la prochaine fois… next time.

Emmilou Lounge and Tapas Bar
413 Bourke St
Surry Hills NSW 2010


This article is posted on Gourmantic.com - All rights reserved - Copyright © 2017.

Emmilou Tapas Bar: Cocktails, Happy Hour and Cinq à Sept in Surry Hills was last modified: December 20th, 2015 by Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.


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  3. It’s a few years since I have traipsed through that quarter of olde Sydney town, but I’d find it pretty hard to walk past one of those Tequilla Negras! Come to think of it… after a few of them I’d find it hard to walk… period!

    • Dudley, something tells me you have a history with Tequila! 🙂 I’m sure if you tried some of the booze hounds cocktails, you’d never want to leave!

  4. I usually have my scotch neat, but this “Love Child” intrigues me. I never thought I’d ever mix a single malt with anything, such is my scotch snobbery, but I would certainly consider this…

  5. It was certainly a great happy hour! Next time we’ll have to sample the food as well! 🙂

  6. Ok, I want to go! I’m starting a list of “must go’s” for the day I come to Australia. This’ll be on it. 🙂

  7. Ahhh Faisons l’amour avant de nous dire adieu. What a great song! Takes me back to Paris, teenage years and waiting to experience everything that life has to offer. Just like this place.

    Looking forward to try all the different cocktails. It’s about time we had some more places like this in Sydney. Can not wait for your review on the food.

    PS: Love the red walls and the Louis Ghost chairs.


    • I haven’t been able to get the song out of my head for days! Not sure that’s a good thing either… 🙂

      Ambience is such a critical factor, and as you say, not many places in Sydney capture what you get in Europe.

      The chairs and the red work well together, a colour theme that carries into the unisex bathrooms which I forgot to mention.

  8. Emmilou in the late afternoon under the trees with a cocktail in hand, life is not too bad!

  9. I like the look of this place – very fun! What are the prices on the happy hour cocktails?

    • It’s gorgeous, isn’t it… What I didn’t show (since we were sitting there) was the terrace overlooking the street. Very nice spot to chill with friends. Happy Hour cocktails are $10 AUD, the rest start from $16. The two cocktails I mentioned were $20 and $19 respectively.

  10. I will definitely have to stop by when I’m in Sydney 🙂 looks like a great place!

  11. Very smart place. I love the ghost chairs, they look so sophisticated. Thanks very much for your visit to my blog.

  12. I love the Happy Hour cocktail and this place looks amazing!

  13. This place looks great – tres romantique! And terribly, has me craving a cocktail at about 10 in the morning, scandal! Thankfully, our 5-7 hour here includes more apero’s than mistresses 🙂

    • Je trouve le rouge tres passionnant, n’est-ce pas?

      Usually I’m all for preserving traditions. But in this case, I’m glad your cinq a sept has more to do with drinking than infidelity! 🙂

  14. And, I thought “cinq a sept” only meant happy hour….learn something new (and scandalous) every day. Even though it’s winter here, I’m craving the icy pear fizz and Tequila Negra.

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  16. The tapas are pretty great here, with lots of variety.

  17. Hi there everyone

    Thanks very much for the kind words Mr & Mrs G as well as all of your wonderful readers. What a great article and view point of what we do at Emmilou!

    If anyone would like to come and join us for dinner/ drinks please do feel free to email me directly and I will be only too happy to see to it personally that you are well looked after.


    Now….some exciting news! We have a brand new structure launching at the end of this month that will also include around 4-6 nightly changing specials. The prices will be coming downand the chef’s and I are planning on having a lot of fun with it!! 😉

    Rest assured however that all of staples (ie quail eggs, zucchini flowers, goat sausage, polenta etc) will not be going anywhere!

    We will be holding a launch event on Wednesday March the 30th from 6pm. Any bloggers that would like to attend please email me directly at chris@emmilou.com.au

    For any readers that are interested in joining please join up to our newsletter asap and you will receive all of the invite information on Thursday afternoon. We are very excited!!

    Thanks again for your kind words and we look forward to seeing al of you here at some stage.

    Kind Regards,
    Chris Cranswick-Smith
    chef/ owner

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