At The Bar with Bar Clara’s Joel McKenzie

An intimate cocktail bar in the heart of Chinatown in Melbourne is helmed by mixologist and owner Joel McKenzie. Born in the Yarra Valley, McKenzie focuses on the importance of season when it comes to his cocktail lists – his venue a fave stop for a pre-theatre drink or post-work catch-up.

Joel McKenzie spoke to The Write Drop for our At The Bar series.

MY CITY

I’m Melbourne born and bred and love the combination of variety and quality on offer. I don’t know if we are the best at anything, but we do so many things really well.

FAVOURITE FOOD MEMORY

O.MY Restaurant in Beaconsfield does an amazing farm-to-table degustation. First course is a variety of seasonal items that come out on cut-log side plates. How do they make warrigal greens taste so good?

FAVOURITE BAR  

Bar Clara. Shameless self-promotion but when you get to build your own bar, things are the way you like them. The seats are comfortable, the lighting is low, the drinks are excellent. I’ll usually pick an agave based seasonal cocktail. This autumn we are combining tequila and mezcal with pomegranate and balsamic.

DRINK THAT DESCRIBES YOU

Manhattan – A quiet and straight forward sipper that is simple but made with quality ingredients.

BEST HANGOVER CURE

Having two kids under 3 years of age. I wouldn’t survive.

BEST INTERSTATE BAR

Alba Bar & Deli Brisbane. They consistently win bar food of the year and their drinks back it up. Last time I had a fig cocktail called the Hybrid and a morcilla blood sausage with chimichurri and labneh.

FAVOURITE BEER

Bridge Road Brewers’ annual release is a delicious dark Belgium style that comes in a 750ml. I have it every birthday.

FAVOURITE WINERY

Samuel’s Gorge in McLaren Vale has a cracker Tempranillo best enjoyed while sitting on the patio and looking out over the gorge.

NEXT DESTINATION  

We take an annual holiday in Bright, VIC. I get to do some serious tree bathing with all the autumn colours before trying whatever crazy delicious concoction Reed & Co. Distillery has come up with next.

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