The lights are low and the beats echo deep Southern soul. Earl’s Juke Joint is a Newtown bar inspired by the swag and sips of old time New Orleans.
The concept came from owner Pasan Wijesena’s passion for the city that lays claim to the roots of all thing jazz, hip hop, rock 'n' roll and, in his words, is the spiritual home of the cocktail.
"A G&T is my go to drink. Gin in a cocktail can be both classic and original at once. Plus who doesn't like a spirit that’s been the subject matter for both Tom Waits and Snoop Dogg?"
As well as indulging his own personal love of hip hop, Earls pays homage to blues music, its walls adorned with the faces of the legends that made the genre what it is today. A Newtown local, he describes the bar vibe as 'neighbour-hoodly' with awesome music.
His local-state-of-mind extends to the bar-keep culture, where he finds great joy in using fresh, local, seasonal products.
“I love to cook, so that really helps inspire flavour combinations. I'm really into using fresh herbs, like lemon thyme, caraway and camomile. We only use freshly squeezed juice each day, so I couldn’t work without my Skymsem citrus juicer.”
The Earls Juke Joint boss says he’s really excited about the explosion of locally made booze and seeing Australia get more recognition from the international cocktail community.
“I love the flexibility of Four Pillars Rare Dry and the Barrel Aged makes a great twist on a Twentieth Century cocktail.”
But all seriousness aside, this bartender is, at heart, a muso who loves seeing his patrons drinking good drinks and have a rockin’ time.
"Anyone can learn recipes and robots can make your drinks, but hospitality is why you keep going back to a venue. Chris McMillian famously said that making drinks was ten per cent of the job, and that’s a quote I love to use.”
So head to Earls Juke Joint if a Ramos Gin Fizz and some foot stomping rock 'n' roll music tickles your fancy.
Words by Ebony Schmidt. Images courtesy of Earl's Juke Joint.