Clooney Kitchen and Bar
At Clooney you’re greeted by dark walls, purple-velvet booths and low lights. It’s moody and serious like an old-fashioned speakeasy, but to call it that would be to miss the point. While the drinks list here does include some cocktail classics, there’s also a focus on bright, citrusy drinks.
Bartender Will Crennan (ex-Gin Palace, Collins Quarter) likes drinks that are “pretty, with balance and colour”, and is working alongside Shannon McFarland (ex-The General Assembly, The Rochester) to create the cocktails.
The Duck Fat Martini is duck-fat-washed vodka and dry sake steeped in citrus and spicy botanicals. For the Oaxaca Tea, a water bath infuses liqueur with apple and green tea. It’s then mixed with white mezcal, served with ice and applewood smoke. The classics – Negroni, Manhattan and other usual suspects – and a page for Holiday Cocktails show Clooney is not too proud to celebrate the Margaritas and Pina Coladas of this world.
The wine list mixes Italian and Australian producers, with a couple of French drops thrown in. There are two sparklings, a rose, four reds and four whites by the glass, plus around 30 bottles. Beer includes mix of Euro classics (such as the Weihenstephaner range from Germany), modern favourite Sierra Nevada, and locals Two Birds, La Sirene and Hawkers.
The food menu hints at Southeast Asia, but has classic European bones. Fried anchovies are served san choy bau-style, with fresh mint, Kewpie mayo and chilli. The terrine is duck, but here it’s Peking and served with duck-skin crackling and apple. There’s also kangaroo tartare, and the formidable sounding Truffle Deluxe; truffled salami, truffled pecorino, and truffle oil on toast. Food can be paired as part of an ever-changing cocktail degustation menu.
There are other small touches that elevate this spot from a suburban cocktail bar to a really well thought out experience. The building’s original Art Deco leadlight windows let light in from the street, you can rest your feet on real brass bar rails imported from America, and Clooney’s logo – a gold leopard named Rogelio – is dotted around the bar on dark-purple wallpaper.
Co-owner Kate Dickens also co-owns Ciao Celo, the Italian restaurant formerly in the building, and now 50 metres down the road. He worked with Darren Gray of Kerf Designs to create the reclaimed Tasmanian water eucalyptus-topped bar, handmade furniture and liquor cabinets.
As for the name; it’s not inspired by George, rather by his aunt Rosemary. Dickens grew up listening to her records and thought the Hollywood glitz-meets-Italian cool was the perfect vibe for the bar.