Smokelovers was a longstanding tobacconist that operated next to the Exeter Hotel for more than 50 years. When it closed in 2019, veteran Exeter bartender Hamish Tregeagle saw an opportunity to move ship.
He kept the name, but that’s about it. Smokelovers is now a wine and cocktail bar offering classic cocktails (including a smoky Margarita), several spritzes and a wine list that favours small, self-distributing producers with a “light touch”. There are lo-fi Hills producers like Basket Range, Commune of Buttons and newcomer Parley Wines, plus new-school young guns like Hills Collide and Frederick Stevenson. French and Italian wines are also strongly represented by the bottle.
Beers also run the gamut: there’s a Mismatch session ale, a Bridge Road sour, a low-alcoholic number from Big Shed (called “Desi Driver”), a Melbourne Bitter and a Coopers sparkling ale. But nothing on tap – you’ll only find them by the bottle or can here.
Food is limited to simple bites such as olives, cheese, tinned Cuca anchovies and Soiboii bread.
The fit-out by Sam Weckert and Dusty Weatherald of Tiger Build is all timber and greens, with bench seating flanking the walls. Custom lighting by Jam Factory alumnus Liam Fleming, which sits above each table, establishes an old-world train carriage vibe