The first month of opening for Ruby, My Dear has been exactly what the owners hoped for.
The cocktail bar, based in the Brisbane suburb of Newstead, is inspired by Tokyo jazz bars, or kissatens. It is run by the quartet of Bonnie Shearston and Tom Sanceau, who also run the Red Hook, Pablo Warner and Andrew Hackworth.
“The first three weeks have just been so busy, full of regulars and locals. It’s exactly what we wanted to get,” said Bonnie.
As a Newstead local herself, Bonnie noticed a lack of elevated cocktail bars in the area. Ruby, My Dear was devised to fill this gap.
“We’ve got an amazing amount of really cool breweries around here, lots of good family restaurants, but when it comes to that more elevated, grown-up cocktail experience, there’s not as much,” she described.
Though the bar is influenced by Japanese kissatens, Ruby, My Dear was primarily designed as a neighbourhood bar.
“I found this space and decided I wanted to open a bar I’d want to go to if I was a local, which I am. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to enjoy a drink,” Bonnie joked.
The decks have been spinning, with weekdays offering a more relaxed vibe and weekends focusing on upbeat disco and funk.
“Earlier in the week, we get excited to get a lot of jazz and a lot of soul. We’ve been crate diving quite a bit. We’re pulling out little bits and pieces. We get to experiment earlier in the week, which is fun. […] We’re going out shopping again this week, just trying to ever build that collection,” said Bonnie.
When the bar is too busy for Bonnie and to staff to flip wax, musical director Pablo’s carefully curated playlist ensures there isn’t any dead air. Ruby, My Dear is gearing up for live music on the first Tuesday of the month, with the first show from The Tyler Cooney Trio drawing in a good crowd.
“It’s a really good mix of people just coming in for drinks or people coming in drinking and eating, some people just coming in to listen to the DJs or the live music when that’s on. It’s just a casual bar where most people are deciding to dine as well, which is really great for us. We’ve got lots of drinkers coming in, enjoying the patio,” Bonnie commented.
Ruby, My Dear’s standout cocktails have been the Tommy Turay, a green capsicum chili Margarita, and the Hard-Boiled Wonderland, combining whiskey, coconut, cherry and plum.
“The other one is our Sake Negroni, which we just can’t keep up with. It’s flying out the door,” Bonnie said.
There are also a range of Australian and Japanese gins and whiskeys, popular drinks in both countries.
“It’s supposed to be a very appealing-to-all venue, but we did want to have a nod towards that Japanese synergy alongside the Australian amazing produce that we have as well. That’s why there’s a focus on gin and whiskey,” Bonnie added.
A unique drawcard has been the sake luge, delivered through the bone from the miso-and-sake-roasted bone marrow udon. In particular, groups are keen to give it a try, with people bringing their friends to the venue to introduce them to the unique experience.
“We make a bit of a fuss when we send it out. It’s been really well received,” Bonnie continued.