Cloistered within a hollowed-out 400-tonne clocktower on level 9 of Shell House in Sydney’s CBD, is Clocktower Bar, which opened in 2021 but feels like it’s been in there forever. Look up, and you’ll see the machinations of the working art deco clock – but with ace drinks and its old-world appeal there’s a good chance you’ll lose track of time here. It’s the cherry on top of the Shell House development, which boasts three other impressive drinking and dining venues: Menzies Bar, Shell House Dining and Sky Bar.

Andrew Ratcliff – a drinks whizz who’s previously tended the bars at Baxter Inn, Shady Pines, Eau De Vie, the Victoria Room and Wild Rover – has just been appointed Clocktower Bar’s venue manager. And he’s got plenty of excitement up his sleeve to keep us lingering in this moody venue. Here’s what he has in store.

What’s your new job title?
Venue manager, Clocktower Bar. [I look after] everything from the back to the front-of-house admin, hiring, training staff, running service.

Why did you decide to move to Shell House and the Clocktower Bar?
I love being surrounded by crazy, creative people and the Point Group has a lot of them. I previously worked with Josh Reynolds [group bar director], and he convinced me over several Martinis to join the crew. I also jumped at the chance to work with Alex Kirkwood [group food and beverage director] and Shun Eto [group wine director], both of whom have been in the wine game for a long time. Coming from a whisky background, I am really looking forward to gaining a lot of wine exposure alongside them. Shun and I have been friends for a long time and we always said we would work together one day – the day is here. Finally, what better space to work in than the Clocktower? [With the] decadent design of the room and heritage-listed 400-tonne clocktower, it has such a good vibe.

Do you have any fun plans or ideas for your new role?
I have a mountain of ideas ready to go, I just can’t talk about them yet – [but] if you know me, you know I love whisky. I can tell you that we will be expanding our backbar significantly with a big collection of premium whisky, gin, tequila and mezcal. We plan to have one of the biggest offerings in the city.

Will you bring along any drinks or ideas you’re known for?
My background is primarily in whisky and the venue lends itself to the category really well. I’ll be working with Josh Reynolds to bring some delicious drinks to the venue. We have a similar philosophy when it comes to cocktails: simple, fresh and crushable.

Will we see any cool ideas or drinks that you think will particularly thrill diners?
I love taking care of people, so our service style will be the most important factor. Technically, there is no such title as a “whisky sommelier”, but I would like to think of myself as one in my role here. I want to bring a particular level of knowledge to guests who are visiting us, where they can put their trust in me as they would with a great wine sommelier. If guests are willing to go on the journey, we can introduce them to some really special drinks. Whether you’re drinking high-end whisky or a cold beer, I just want our guests to be able to relax and enjoy themselves, and I think the concept we deliver will leave a lasting impression on our guests. The Clocktower Bar offers high-end service in a relaxed way.

shellhouse.com.au/clocktower-bar
@whisky.rat