The Old Mate's Place team's love letter to rum serves long-lost cocktails in its Clarence Street basement.
December 07, 2023
If you adore a hidden bar, you'll love Clarence Street watering hole Old Love's. The venue from the team behind Old Mate's Place is located down an unmarked corridor and behind a nondescript security door in the basement level of the building. You truly don't know whether you're about to find a bustling CBD venue or an empty fire escape — but luckily, a welcoming cocktail bar awaits you.
Once inside, you'll find a loving homage to the world of rum. You're handed the Book of Rum upon entry, a passion project that Old Mate's Dre Walters worked tirelessly on in the lead-up to the opening. The book is a guide to all things rum, and the back bar is set up in the order the different regions and distilleries appear in the book.
Flick through the pages to the middle of the guide, and you'll discover a list of fun and inventive cocktails — many of which are based on long-forgotten Pacific Island and Caribbean combinations that Walters and the team dug up from historic tiki recipe books.
The Old Mate's Place owner says they've "dropped some power steering" into these drinks of yesteryear with the help of contemporary spirits and modern mixology.
The Pet Dragon will delight, combining a house-made rum-based drambuie, dried plum extract, a burst of citrus and egg whites for fluffiness. The Cuban Payphone takes white rum and brightens it with sherry, citrus, sugar and orange bitters.
A favourite from the Ginny's and Old Mate's menus, the pickled jalapeño Tommy's margarita is also available here — a good option for the rum-averse. There are also seasonal daiquiris made with whatever fruit is available from the markets that week.
If you want to dip your toes in the world of rum, chat with the bartender and pick out a rum to combine with freshly squeezed sugar cane juice. It's the beginner's version of a rum on the rocks.
Rounding out Old Love's offerings are a few memorable bar snacks. The mini Cubano and the jerk chicken roll are packed with flavour — a true delight when paired with a top-notch cocktail.
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