Landing gracefully on Swan Street, on Richmond’s burgeoning drinks strip, is The Ugly Duckling, a new cocktail bar that appeals to the polished urban set. Hatched by owner David Abela – managing director of branding and PR powerhouse 3 Degrees Marketing – and executed by local interior design studio Hecker Guthrie, two rooms with a distinctly different ambience connect seamlessly through the smart migration of furnishings and colour palettes.

The stark, compact entrance, anchored by a marbled stone bar, awakens into a light-filled atrium with potted Ginko trees that soar towards a skylight. Here patrons can linger over cocktails such as The Soursnap, a refreshing medley of spirits with rose syrup, ginger, egg white, sugar snap peas and a dash of lime, or snack on antipasto-style plates. 

Neutral hues, from whitewashed timber underfoot to the custom-made American oak tables, dominate the lofty rear space, but most genius are the mirror panels spanning a wall shelf; their painted borders, crudely hand-dipped in the entry’s signature ink-blue, tether them to the bar’s solid foundations without diminishing their ethereal qualities.