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Old Love's Is a Hidden Love Letter to Rum in the Basement of the Old Mate's Place Building

Take a trip through the book of rum with the Old Mate's Place team — and make sure to order a Cubano sandwich on the way.
By Ben Hansen
November 16, 2023
By Ben Hansen
November 16, 2023

If you adore a hidden bar, you're going to love discovering Clarence Street's latest watering hole Old Love's. The new 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 once you head through — but luckily, a welcoming new cocktail bar awaits you.

Old Love's has taken over the space previously occupied by Ginny's Canoe Club — a pop-up that Old Mate's Place ran while it was putting the final touches on the Old Love's concept. Namely, the crew was waiting for the perfect swivel chairs to arrive from the US and thought a limited-time restaurant would be a fun idea.

Now that the digs have been transformed into Old Love's, you'll find a loving homage to the world of rum in the basement bar. On entry, you're even handed the Book of Rum, a passion project that Old Mate's Dre Walters has been working on in the lead-up to the opening. The book is a guide to all things rum, and the back bar is set up from left to right in the order that 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 have 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. Or 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 seasonal daiquiris using 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 of your choosing 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. Both the mini Cubano and the jerk chicken roll are packed with flavour — a true delight when paired with a top-notch cocktail.

Old Love's is located on the basement level of 199 Clarence Street, Sydney. It's open 5pm–2am Tuesday–Sunday. Head to the bar's website to browse the full menu.

Published on November 16, 2023 by Ben Hansen
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