This new Little Bourke Street cocktail bar showcases local and seasonal produce.
UPDATE: APRIL 28, 2020 — In a move that can only be considered peak Melbourne, the CBD's Bar Clara has launched goon bags filled with mulled wine. Made with Aussie red wine, spices and orange, the 1.5-litre Scarlet & Clove sacks will set you back $38 — and can be delivered to doors across Melbourne metro areas for free.
Peruse Bar Clara's drinks list, and a number of familiar words jump out, bellini and martini among them. But this new addition to Little Bourke Street isn't just serving up the usual old classics. If Melbourne's restaurant scene can take inspiration from the region's local and seasonal produce, then Bar Clara owner and manager Joel McKenzie can as well.
Now open in a basement space in Chinatown, under the arch near Exhibition Street, this watering hole slings a custom, frequently changing cocktail list that blends fresh ingredients with modern techniques. Current standouts include the savoury Roma Martini, which combines gin and dry vermouth with tomato juice that has been spun in a centrifuge 4000 times; the New York Natural with cherry-infused bourbon, sweet vermouth and bitters; and the Banoffe Special, a mix of Starward Whisky, lemon and crunchy raw cane sugar syrup — plus caramelised meringue on top.
A small beer, cider and wine selection is also available, plus a range of bites to eat — such as smoked almonds, house-marinated olives, duck liver parfait with lavash, smoked mackerel and horseradish bites, and a rotating cheese platter that always features three types of dairy with crackers.
Decor-wise, prepare to sip and snack in a dimly lit space decked out with plants, concrete beams, a copper bar top and green velvet couches.