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Opening soon: a WWII-themed rum and rye bar in the CBD

Written by
Emily Lloyd-Tait

There’s a new good times hub in the CBD, and it’s in the last place you’d expect. The Swillhouse Group’s newly opened French bistro, Hubert, on Bligh Street is making the financial district of the CBD an after-hours destination, and any minute now a '40s themed French-American bar is set to open, channelling the party vibes after Paris was liberated in 1944.

Yep, you heard us right. Jared Merlino and Dre Walters of Lobo Plantation fame are opening a WWII-themed rum and rye bar on the corner of Bent and Phillip Streets.

Kittyhawk is not exactly what you’d call a small bar. In fact they have a hotel license which means their capacity is north of 300, not capped at 60 cocktail curious people at a time. In keeping with the military theme (a Kittyhawk was a WW11 plane) they’re decking the place out in greens, deep blues, and brass, and if you’ve been developing a taste for rye you’re in luck, because American spirits are going to have pride of place behind the bar. “The idea grew from rum and rye, which is a really cool drink. We took it and turned it into an idea for a venue. Our back bar holds 600-700 spirits and half of the bar will be rum, the other half will be rye,” says Merlino.

There will also be four beer taps, but really it’ll be all about the cocktails here. And with so much space to play with they can afford to get creative. “We’re working on a pimento dram like they used to make in the early '30s and '40s, and we’re working with Archie Rose to pull it off with a white rye. We’re playing around with things that take time. Like a proper oleo sacharum. We’ve bought a vacpack machine so we can store it and let the flavours develop for a week. That’s the depth that we want with the cocktails, it’s going to be very prep-heavy but when we’ve got the room and the ability to do it there’s not reason not to,” says Walters.

Fortunately with a 12-metre bar, elbow bars, a front conservatory and a raised section with banquettes there will be plenty of room to post up and order the kind of cocktails that take a week of prep and a side of Parisian street food to complete this picture of classy inner city boozing.

*Kittyhawk is now open.

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