Clooney Kitchen and Bar
The plum velvet couches at Clooney may look like the perfect place to kick back with a classic whiskey, but Mad Men-style booze isn't the focus here.
Bartender and co-owner, Will Crennan (ex Gin Palace and Collins Quarter), created the cocktail menu with Shannon McFarland (from The Rochester). It's a “mod, fresh and balanced” take on the classic Art Deco, speakeasy vibes.
“I didn’t want it to be a place that was determinably secretive where you could only order Mad Men whiskey drinks. Because, while they’re delicious, you can order them at any bar,” says Crennan.
Crennan’s favourite cocktail is a spin on a whisky sour—the Burnt Citrus Sour. According to Crennan, the flavour is more complex than the classic, with a rich, biscuity flavour mixed with dry whiskey and topped with brown sugar-caramelised citrus (yeah, wow).
One important thing you need to know before you come here: these drinks are intended to pack a punch.
“We wanted to make things that look pretty, maybe a touch innocuous and delicious, but they have to have the booze,” says Crennan. "You know, we’re a cocktail bar.”
These guys can also do food matching, which means four things off the menu, matched with four different cocktails. One of Crennan’s favourite pairings is the Kingfish crudo with finger lime served alongside a white rum and lime juice daiquiri (he’s right on this one guys, trust us).
The space formerly housed co-owner Kate Dickens’ restaurant Ciao Cielo (which has moved over here) and was named after George Clooney’s aunt, Rosemary Clooney, who was a famous jazz musician (perhaps not as famous as good old Georgey though).
Crennan and Dickens wanted to create a space that was good for solitary ventures, date nights or long nights with friends—something they thought was lacking in the area.
“Port Melbourne is a really fun area but one of the things it doesn’t necessarily have is small, intimate, late-night places,” says Crennan.
So go on then: sit yourself in a corner or bring the group and prepare to stay for a few hours. Trust us, you’ll want Will and Shannon to go through the entire drinks list.
Image credit: Griffin Simm