Marrying the heartiness of an old Fitzroy pub with a little modern discernment, The Rooks Return makes it easy to feel at home. Co-owners Josh Bailey, Chris Walsh and James Beyerle fitted out the place with the help of some friends, using recycled timbers and decorating the walls with oil-painted landscapes and other assorted knick-knacks.

At any given time there might be someone tinkering at the old piano, whether it’s courtesy of a jazz ensemble or just a musical drinker passing through.

Selecting a drink here is more conversational than transactional, the low-rise bar allowing for easy conversation with the friendly and experienced bar staff. The cocktail menu plays it very cool with spare descriptions (Manhattan – dry or wet. Bloody Mary – Jim’s, Chris’ or Josh’s?) It’s either a conversation-starter or a roll of the dice.

There are local brews on tap, and you can bring in your own food or order from Shawcross Pizza down the road.

Booths in the back room encourage cosy discussion and the playing of board games; the area doubles as an informal exhibition space for local artists on a monthly rotation. This isn’t just a sleepy hangout though – in the bright undercover courtyard there are monthly cook-ups, providing weekend cheer to the warm sounds of vinyl spilling from the decks.

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Updated: June 22nd, 2016

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