The Duke of Clarence is in good company. In a Clarence Street laneway, it counts sister venue The Barbershop and the Baxter Inn as neighbours. “There’s a lot of personality in this part of the city,” says co-founder Mike Enright. “There’s obviously a small risk of stealing clientele off your other venue, but this area is busy and I don’t think that’s going to stop.”
Enright and business partner Julian Train have given the Duke of Clarence an antique patina in a nod to 19th-century English pubs. “Quintessential English pubs are steeped in history. We don’t have a history yet, but we’re trying to capture some of the things I miss about proper English pubs back home,” says Enright, who grew up in Liverpool.
Part of that is about the accoutrements – beautiful glassware, ice cubes in a variety of sizes and textures – and part is about the drinks. More than 80 per cent of the spirits come from the British Isles, and there are some notable English wines unlikely to be found anywhere else in Australia.
Another rarity is the Duke of Clarence’s cask beer offering. “Cask ale is non-carbonated and it comes with a creamy head, a bit like a Guinness,” says Enright. “We work with local beer producers to get them to add active fermentation into the kegs.”
The rest of the process happens at the pub and involves adding extra hops to the beer, before resting it at room temperature, then in a fridge. After the keg is tapped, there are only 72 hours to drink the beer before it goes off. “It’s a lot of work, but it allows us to get creative and have a different offering.”
Although the beer menu is enormous, there’s plenty on offer for those who prefer cocktails. The punch list includes refreshing brews, like the Claret Punch, made from claret, sweet vermouth, peach brandy, roasted peaches, mandarin and a thyme tincture. It’s served in a punch bowl with pretty glasses and there’s enough for four people.
The food menu follows the same principle of sharing. Try the Clarence Ploughman’s, a generous dish of shaved ham, pork pie, pickled vegetables and smoked cheddar, or the fish finger sandwich with house-made tartare sauce and a small parsley and shallot salad.
Walking past the Duke of Clarence, you’d be forgiven for thinking it had been there for years. Many of its design elements are at least a century old. Every floorboard, tile and metre of wallpaper is antique and was imported from the UK, sourced from auctions, markets and estate sales. The library, with its comfortable chairs and fireplace, will no doubt be a popular place to settle into with an Irish whisky.
The Duke of Clarence opens December 4.
The Duke of Clarence
Laneway, 152-156 Clarence Street, Sydney 2000
Mon to Sat 4pm–2am