Bars, Pubs and Clubs » Melbourne » Drinking in Fitzroy


Libation, Brunswick St, Fitzroy

Libation, Brunswick St Previously known as The Bar with No Name and for whatever reason it now has a name. Libation’s definition is The pouring of a drink offering as a religious ritual, fitting for an establishment which brings high quality drinks down from their pedestal. Its decor is understated and elegant with antique style furnishings and a great view out onto the busy corner of Johnson and Brunswick St or a back room if a little privacy or intimacy is more to your liking.

The selection of booze is everything you would expect for any high calibre cocktail bar in Melbourne. The fridge is stocked with a great range of beers from a range of boutique breweries, Moo Brew Pale Ale being a standout. The wine list has been carefully crafted from local wines, the house red, white and sparkling even sport Libation brand as is happening across the town.

The range of spirits is where Libation really shines. There is no great collection of single malt whiskey or agave tequila but the back bar covers a lot of ground.A few flavours of absinthe opens the account backed by a range of liqueurs and syrups that look like they see some use. Maraschino liqueur is a bottle rarely seen on the backbar of establishment in these parts and Luxardo is a particularly good brand. 42 Below, Grey Goose and Belvedere cover the bases with every flavour of vodka imaginable. 10 cane rum has a major presence on the shelves but doesn’t outshine the Havana Club 8 year-old or the Angostura 1919. Gin-wise the offering is solid, the shelf holds Tanqueray, South and Hendricks as well as the old favourites, Bombay and Plymouth.  Where the gin-shelf is lacklustre, the whisky shines. Laphroaig, Glenmorangie, Asyla and Dewars  backed up by all the styles of Johnnie Walker, Chivas Regal, Glenfiddich and Jamesons.

imgp5322 The cocktail list is a contemporary affair but the classics are well represented. Sitting at the bar on a quiet afternoon your drinks will be served by knowledgable and friendly staff who are happy to have a chat but this isn’t always the case.  On weekend nights the service won’t be as personal but happily the quality doesn’t flag. Despite a recent Sunday being busy, the request of a Mint Julep was given a strange look, a few whispers behind the bar and the recipe confirmed. The end result was garnished beautifully, tasted great but lacked bitters, an easy omition.

This bar is another gem in Melbourne’s small bar scene, intimate and full of character it would be a crime to compare it to the top end cocktail bar’s like Der Raum and 1806. Its beauty lies in its straightforward, down to earth approach which brings well made cocktails, good wine and beer at good prices to everyone.

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Napier Hotel, Fitzroy

The Napier Hotel, Fitzroy, Melbourne As is so often the case of Melbourne watering-holes, the Napier Hotel is tucked away on a side street off Brunswick St in Fitzroy. Built in the 19th century in the same grand old style of most Melbourne hotels, the pub has the curious feeling that not too much has changed since the day it was built. Sure, they’ve fixed the ceiling and mopped the floors, the memorabilia on the walls is as up to date as a Benson & Hedges series poster can be and the beers on tap certainly weren’t around then but it wouldn’t surprise me if the pub is still painted in the same colours (it has recently had a new lick of paint.) The bar itself probably hasn’t changed much and the same barflies have been there since the mid 1960s.

This very feeling makes the Napier the perfect local. Friendly faces, cheap meals and comfortable surrounds make dropping in for a quiet pint or to watch the footy all too easy. Footy in Melbourne isn’t just something to watch, it is religion and at the Napier, in the heart of Fitzroy, things are no different. The walls are covered with Fitzroy and Brisbane Lions guernseys, premiership posters and team photos and when the Lions are playing, the very same barflies will tell you stories about how Paul Roos and Bernie Quinlan used to come in and drink 3 pints before the game every Saturday. Believing them is another story.

The menu is standard pub fare, with a difference. The ubiquitous chicken parmagiana makes an appearance with the option of house-smoked kangaroo rather than ham, calling it the best Parma in Melbourne would be ridiculous (as it always is), the roo-meat is a great touch and well worth trying. The Bogan Burger is a massive hamburger with the works including a potato scallop but it doesn’t live up to the high expectations set by all the rave reviews. There is also a more restaurant/cafe style menu mostly comprising of different styles of salad, with lamb, squid or cajun chicken. Across all of these meals one thing jumps out at you, and that is value for money. The size is astounding, the quality uncompromising and the price cheap, considering.

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