The bartenders at the Rooks Return are putting Melbourne bar staff on notice. The new gold standard is introducing yourself by name. And what a difference a warm welcome makes in a neighbourhood known for often taking the slacker vibe too far. There’s a courtyard out back, but the indoor space is where it’s at thanks to a small stage where jazz hepcats and bluegrass outfits do their thing.
The wine list is all-Australian (except for a ring-in from Argentina). Beer favours craft brews like the Feral Brewing Company Hop Hog Pale Ale and a highly drinkable lager from Forrest Brewing Company. All the usual cocktail suspects are represented plus nine inventive creations. The simple combination of tequila, Aperol and mint makes Vote for Pedro a crowd pleaser while coffee, fernet, orgeat and sloe gin make the Branca 43 a more challenging (yet rewarding) proposition for discerning drinkers.