In Food + Drink

Glimpse Inside Crown Melbourne’s Gatsby-Inspired Bar

After a seven-year slumber, Neil Perry’s Rockpool Group has once again opened a bar at Crown Melbourne. Taking over where the popular Waiting Room once resided, R Bar brings some serious art deco glamour to Crown Towers.

“R Bar is more luxe than the Waiting Room,” says Perry.

“We took our inspiration from some of the world’s best lobby bars including Manhattan in the Regent Singapore and Bar at the Mercer in NYC. It’s all about comfort, intimacy and sophistication.”

Inspired by the 1920s glamour of cocktails, R Bar brings a sophisticated bar experience to Crown Towers, where it’s located just next door to Rockpool Bar & Grill.

The 110-seat bar is luxe with dark timber, hand-blown chandeliers, sculptural pendant lighting, bronze mirror panelling, velvet curtains and an intimate private bar for just 16.

But it’s also got a lot of soul as the focus of R Bar is barrel-aged cocktails, martini service and a rotating line-up of hotel bar classics as illustrated by the impressive wall of barrels aging spirits and pre-batched cocktails.

“We have an amazing world-class, barrel-aged cocktail program with the barrels themselves on display, alongside glass cabinets of the exceptional produce that is on the menu,” says Perry.

R Bar’s menu delivers classic and contemporary cocktails with equal measure.

The barrel-aged cocktails, including Negroni, Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Boulevardier, Sazerac and Vieux Carre, are aged for a minimum of 30 days in a combination of port, sherry and bourbon, 20-litre barrels broken down and repurposed for R Bar by Tasmanian Cask Co. Barrels from iconic Australian wineries, such as Seppeltsfield.

American whiskey heavyweight Woodfood barrels have also been repurposed into custom-made casks for R Bar.

Guests can enjoy a sophisticated martini service featuring all-Australian produce and spirits. Two wet, two mid and two dry vodka and gin martinis are poured and garnished table-side.

A rotating showcase has kicked off with the legendary Singapore Sling served at Raffles Hotel in Singapore, the Bellini from Harry’s Bar and the incredible Manhattan Sour from Manhattan’s Bar.

“R Bar is an ode to the cocktail of the Great Gatsby era,” Perry says. “We’re working with boutique, Australian producers and distillers and adding our signature razzle-dazzle to the drinks list; and fabulous food offerings.”

“I’d go as far as to say that the barrel aging that we’re doing on-site is on the largest scale in the country, with amazing cocktails aging gracefully in 30, 20-litre barrels that we’ve turned into a dramatic feature wall,” Perry says, adding that is personal favourite is the Manhattan, aged for 30 days in one of R Bar’s barrels.

Alongside the drinks menu is a delicious food list of deli-inspired bites – think sandwiches, burgers and charcuterie – available all day long as well as two options for afternoon high tea service (traditional or caviar and French Champagne).

“For breakfast, it’s about fresh strawberries or muesli with yoghurt, house-made crumpets, carrot muffins and Baker Blue breads toasted with served with accompaniments. All paired with great coffees and freshly squeezed juices,” Perry says.

And for a cheeky breakfast cocktail, the menu includes strawberry and rhubarb Bellinis topped with prosecco, and Bloody Mary, featuring Ketel One vodka, tomato juice and jalapeno shrub.

The ability to enter the bar from Rockpool Bar & Grill and vice versa enables guests to enjoy a drink at R Bar before or after dinner. Conveniently, their bill can be transferred from one venue to the other.

“My feeling is it’s a perfect time for a lobby bar with great ingredients not only on the food menu but also on the drinks list. We are immensely proud of what we have created and what we offer at all times of the day.”

R Bar is located in the lobby of Crown Towers in Melbourne’s Southbank.

(All image: Rockpool Dining Group / supplied)

Published 04 October, 2019