Hidden away behind the façade of an old butcher, Earl’s Juke Joint is a secret worth keeping. Beyond the striped awning, window signs and original Betta Meats lace curtains sits a bar that celebrates the very best of the Deep South.
Preserving the original shopfront is a quirk only locals can fully understand. After living in the area for more than 15 years, owner Pasan Wijesena wanted to tip his cap to the original owners, who occupied the building for more than 60 years. In doing so, he inadvertently created a secluded hideaway, where visitors can escape from the hustle and bustle of King Street and settle in for a drink, or three.
Considering Pasan’s background, this was no stroke of luck. With experience as General Manager of equally unmarked Shady Pines Saloon, he knew exactly what it took to open a neighbourhood bar that people would feel at home in. In creating that comfy feeling, he looked to the Deep South. The fit-out reflects the charm and magic of Louisiana or New Orleans. Upon entering the building, the dark timber floorboards, long bar, art deco-style lamps and walls covered in posters of blues legends set the tone for what’s to come – good drinks, good tunes and a good time.
Pull up a stool at the impressive long bar and let Pasan and his exceptional team organise the cocktails. The ever-changing cocktail menu has out-of-the-ordinary offerings – the Dressed to Kill includes Wyborowa Vodka, Lillet Rosé, plum, lemon and ginger, while the Summer of Fun comprises of Havana Club 7yr infused with pineapple, Olorosso Sherry, lemon and pineapple shrub. If cocktails aren’t your flavour, the natural and organic wine list offers an alternative. Craft beers are also available, but it’s the classic Reschs that continues to prove popular – in fact, it’s become the calling card of the joint.
In reaching for the holy trinity, Pasan has curated a playlist that’s sure to please the ears. As night becomes early morning and cocktails are flowing, the tunes will take you through the eras, from blues to 90s hip hop and back again.
Despite being only four years young, Earl’s Juke Joint has a lived-in feel to it, a comfortable vibe that rises from the friendly team, cozy design and local vibe. As a neighbourhood cocktail bar, you can’t get much more charismatic than that – one step inside and you’ll be hooked.