The Rooks Return
Your local better watch out — The Rooks Return threatens to take its place.
In many ways, this Brunswick Street terrace-turned-bar is reminiscent of a good friend's home, from the familiar, real vibe to the nostalgia-inducing knickknacks and design touches adorning the interior.
Make yourself at home in the reclaimed timber-laden front bar or one of the many cosy nooks and crannies further in, and you'll find it easy to lose track of an afternoon or evening, sipping drinks and playing your favourite childhood board games. From Uno to Connect Four, they've got all of the classics.
It's the kind of place that doesn't have to vie too hard for your affections; comfortably undone walls and shelves full of well-loved paperbacks will win you over easily, as will the gallery-style display of funky local art.
On weekends, the secluded courtyard out back is an ideal spot to soak up some quiet summer rays and easy DJ beats, while the piano in the entrance gets a workout from 8pm every Wednesday, as jazz band, The Rookies, take over the lamp-lit front space and lure passersby with lively tunes.
Behind the bar, you'll find a little something for every palate. The cocktail list runs from always-popular classics to creative seasonal creations, like the Spicy Mezcalita, based on mezcal, with jalapeno and lime. The trio of beer taps features a rotation of local craft labels and boutique ciders. Right now, for instance, they're pouring Moon Dog's subtly fruity Watermelon Weizen ($12 pint). Then, to back it up, there's a very reasonably-priced selection of Australian, European and South American wines, including an aromatic 2011 Tahuan Malbec ($9 glass).
Alas, room is too tight for a kitchen here, but if you've worked up an appetite playing chess (or downing Picklebacks) they'll let you order pizza from nearby Shawcross — and even waive the delivery fee. They do enjoy the odd BBQ or foodie event out in the beer garden too.
Add this one to your list of locals if you're after a watering hole with a bit of personality. It works just as well as a warm-up spot before a big evening, as it does for a relaxed, casual nightcap, accompanied by good mates, good tunes and a good game of Scrabble.
Image credit: Ollie Belmont