“If you were to ask me if I’d ever had the bad luck to miss my daily cocktail, I’d have to say that I doubt it; where certain things are concerned, I plan ahead.” This quotation is attributed to Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel, and it is one with which many can relate. If, like Luis, cocktails play an integral role in your daily – even weekly – life, then it is high time you find your way to 171 Bay Street, Port Melbourne, the home of one of Melbourne’s pre-eminent cocktail purveyors, Clooney Kitchen and Bar. Having received the 2019 ‘Time Out’ Best New Bar Award, Clooney Kitchen and Bar is a warm and casual establishment that provides the perfect atmosphere for the enjoyment of a drink, a bite to eat and/or an all-in great night out. Here, the raison d’être is to deliver drinks via a painstaking, time-consuming process utilising the finest ingredients available, which produce the most delicious and unique flavour profiles. Sophisticated yet simple, Clooney’s liquid creations are served in beautiful glassware and delicately garnished. In other words, no detail has been ignored. Reflecting ever-changing spirit lists, these cocktails are imbued with thought, care and love and mixed to the highest standard. This is evidenced by the fact that the bar team promises to never serve anything that the team, itself, would not drink. Another word for this is “pride”, and it is this pride that translates into menus that are inspired, seasonal and forever timeless.

The physical space of Clooney Kitchen and Bar might lead one to conclude that it is attempting to recreate the mood and seriousness of an old-fashioned speakeasy, for its plum velvet couches, dark walls and low lights exude a similar broodiness. The cocktails, however, prove otherwise. They move well beyond the highball dominance of the Prohibition era. Clooney’s focus is on bright, deep, citrus-oriented drinks. Bartender and Co-owner Will Crennan, formerly of Gin Palace and Collins Quarter, gives a nod to drinks that are “pretty, with balance and colour”. His favourite cocktail is called the Burnt Citrus Sour, a spin on the classic whisky sour but a combination which yields considerably more complex flavours. Think rich, think biscuit, think dry whiskey and then top it off with brown sugar-carmelised citrus. Crennan works alongside Shannon McFarland, of The General Assembly and The Rochester fame, to create the actual drinks menus. For the adventurous, there is even a cocktail degustation menu available, pairing four dishes with four cocktails. For example, the Kingfish crudo with finger limes is matched with a white rum-lime juice daiquiri! For the uninitiated, prepare to sing from the top of the nearest mountain. As a side note, Crennan’s and McFarland’s creations are very much intended to pack a punch. It is a cocktail bar, after all!

The Clooney space, as briefly mentioned above, is one that has obviously been brought to life with precise consideration. Patrons are afforded the opportunity to rejuvenate their feet atop genuine brass bar rails that have been imported from the United States. Simultaneously, drinks rest upon a reclaimed Tasmanian water eucalyptus-topped bar, a feature created through the collaboration of co-owner Kate Dickens and Kerf Designs’ Darren Gray. Add to this handmade furniture and spirit cabinets and the result is a fabulously bespoke hospitality experience. As well, in the daytime, the bar enjoys a generous amount of natural light thanks to the building’s original art deco leadlight windows. It is the night-time, however, for which Clooney Kitchen and Bar was essentially conceived. According to Dickens, Port Melbourne lacked a venue suited to solitary ventures, date nights, as well as long, extended outings with friends. Simply put, he identified a gap and filled it. As for the name, well, one woman is solely responsible – Rosemary Clooney, the jazz singer to whom Dickens grew up listening. Clooney possessed a big personality and was renowned for being a bit of a party girl. Is it possible that she planted subconscious seeds in a young and impressionable mind? “In the cool, cool, cool of the evening, tell ‘em I’ll be there; in the cool, cool, cool of the evening, better save a chair; when the party’s gettin’ a glow on and singin’ fills the air; in the shank of the night, when the doin’s are right, you can tell ‘em I’ll be there.”  You decide.    

Clooney Kitchen and Bar

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Clooney Kitchen and Bar

DINE AT CLOONEY KITCHEN AND BAR

Clooney Kitchen and Bar

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Clooney Kitchen and Bar

BOOK CLOONEY KITCHEN AND BAR
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