Underground speakeasy opens in Manly

18 September, 2019 by Brydie Allen

The Cumberland speakeasy last night opened its inconspicuous doors underneath Cove Deli.

Access to the prohibition inspired bar is through an antique 1920s fridge door in the deli and down a spiral staircase, opening into the basement area that seats 75.

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The venue was designed by AZB Creative and conceptualised by owner Matt Clifton of the MJC Group of Companies, who also operate popular Manly venues Donny’s and In Situ. Joining him is Pete Ehemann as Managing Director, who comes into the role with more than 12 years experience with Merivale.

Clifton said the idea came from the history of the Northern Beaches, and a desire to transport guests to a different time and place.

“I wanted to bring to life the physical journey of a speakeasy while also paying homage to the bygone era of the Manly area,” he said.

“We want to take people on a bar experience with a difference, showing them a snippet of a different time and bringing a sense of surprise and fun back to a night out.”

The Cumberland’s interior features hand carved sandstone blocks and original convict clay brickwork combined with ornate and antique accents, to add Australian flair to the 1920s New York speakeasy style. According to The Cumberland’s social media accounts, Australia’s temperance movement was happening at the same time, when bars were forced to close at 6pm (a time which became known as the “six o’clock swill”).

“Australia’s six o’clock swill lasted for decades until the law was finally lifted nationally in 1967 and opening hours were pushed back to 10pm. Talk about lockout laws…”

Behind the bar, the speakeasy features a selection of 250 whiskies from across the globe, accompanied by an extensive cocktail menu. An original set of 1902 brass beer taps serve Australian and European craft beers, while the wine menu showcases a range of local boutique organic options.

Above ground, Cove Deli is a fully functioning establishment in its own right and sells a small selection of Mediterranean meats and cheeses over the same opening hours as its hidden underground companion.

The Cumberland’s (fridge) door is open inside Cove Deli now.