For an operator as media-savvy as serial publican Clint Nolan, he’s giving little away about his latest project, a secret, password-protected bar and eatery hiding in plain sight somewhere in Northbridge. Which is precisely the point.
“It’s all about the mystery at the moment,” says the man behind venues such as Alabama Song, Joe’s Juice Joint and Henry Summer. “I love going to foreign cities and trying to find bars down laneways and knocking on doors. I just think that’s the best. And when you do [find one], you feel like it’s your bar and you tell your friends that you found this place and you have some kind of ownership and claim to it. I want Perth people to have that as well.”
Here’s what we know so far. The bar, Toots, will be a love letter to ’70s glam disco and will be dressed accordingly. (Nolan: “There’ll be lots of gold, lots of glitter and lots of disco balls.”). It’s going to be hidden inside another bar somewhere in Northbridge’s Chinatown precinct. (At this stage, social-media speculators are painting Sneaky Tony’s as, at the very least, a person-of-interest in investigations). Guests who want to get into Toots are going to have to ask the right bartender, “Is Toots in?” and cross their fingers.
Once inside, discogoers can expect dance-floor-friendly tunes from artists such as Gloria Gaynor, Grace Jones and Earth, Wind & Fire. There’s a similar retro bent to the eating and drinking. Nolan describes the menu as Australian-Italian, with tuna crudo, bocadillo de chorizo and mortadella buns among the snacks on offer. Drinkers pining for ’70s- and ’80s-era creamy cocktails will have plenty of reasons to cheer. The drinks menu at Toots is unashamedly old school, with throwbacks such as Midori Illusion shakers, Fruit Tingles and tweaked White Russians. A selection of similarly “vintage” shots, including B-52s and Buttery Nipples, will also be available. Earlier in the evening, the 80-person space will be set with tables that, as the night progresses, are cleared to create a dance floor.
Toots, it’s safe to say, is a bar that wants to have fun. And while there’s a certain hedonistic quality to his newest venture, Nolan hopes his tight-lipped approach ahead of the opening helps pique curiosity among drinkers.
“[The location] won’t be a secret for too long, but we’ll give it a go,” says Nolan. “It’s just great to see people chatting and bantering online and being excited about heading out on the weekend in search of a mystery bar. In today’s [social-media driven] age, where everything is so transparent and see-through, it’s very rare for anything to be a mystery.”
Toots opens from April 22 and will be open from 6pm till late Thursday to Saturday.