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.


Getting Lost in New Zealand

Just thought I’d drop a quick notice on here, I’m currently touring around New Zealand and will have limited posting, when I get back expect to learn a little bit more about New Zealand wine, coffee shops in Wellington and harbour-side bars in Auckland.

Time out with DrinkPlanner

Recently we sat down for about 3 months with DrinkPlanner and asked him a few questions about his site, about himself and about what he drinks. Certainly the most interesting thing about him is his uncanny ability to uncover the most random drinking inventions known to man. I hope you enjoy the interview.

So DrinkPlanner, if that really is your name, why did you start DrinkPlanner? It’s definitely a noble cause but do you think one man can make a difference to the worlds drinking?

It was originally conceived to be strictly a drink specials site, and there wasn’t going to be any writing on it at all.  After several early permutations and lots of talking, we decided to add a blog to it (mostly because I’m really whiny when I want something).  It was just going to be a place to post videos and reblog stuff from other sites, but once I started writing it really took on a life of its own and things have taken off from there.  I’d always enjoyed writing, and as you can tell I’m a fan of drinking, so it just sort of happened.
Can one man make a difference?  Maybe, but I feel like my mission is more to rally others to be better drinkers, try new things, and stop being scared of being proud of drinking.  Drinking is awesome, and you shouldn’t let anyone make you feel bad about it.

I notice there are still a few drink specials on the site, what’s the deal with them? Are they still current and are you still “doing” that?

They are, for the majority of them, current.  As I said, the site was originally conceived as a drink specials site, so that’s why they’re there.  We definitely keep in contact with as many of the bar and restaurant owners listed, and are adding new ones on a regular basis.  With the way the economy is going people are very interested in finding deals on quality drinks, so we do our best to make sure everyone knows where the best deals are.   Hopefully we’ll be able to continue to branch out and serve more areas so everyone can benefit from that part of the site.

I love the review side of DrinkPlanner, sometimes I wonder where you find the stuff you write about. Where do you find it?Some of it is sent to me by people who want me to review their products.  I don’t make any guarantee of a positive review or anything, I review each product based solely on whether or not I like it, and if I would recommend it to someone else.  If I’m not honest in my reviews, then what are they worth, right?  Some of it is just booze I happen upon while browsing through the liquor store and find interesting, so I pick up a bottle.  There’s one store in particular near me that sells single bottles of beer, which is fantastic for someone like me who only needs a bottle to do a review (and for people looking to try out something new).  I feel like the more varied my drinking experiences are, the more things I try, the more I can bring to my site and to my overall drinking experience.  I get more knowledgeable and my readers get a more informed opinion from someone who’s done more than drink rum and cokes their whole life.  Everybody wins!

I’m interested in knowing what a little bit quieter night out for you is like? We know you love smacking the sauce hard, but what do you do when you don’t want to wake up with a sore liver?

Oh I’m absolutely fine with just relaxing, watching a movie with friends or…I don’t know, bowling?  While I’m definitely passionate about drinking, I’m more than content to let it simply enhance whatever it is I’m doing, it doesn’t need to be the main event all the time.

I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for dining out, what about yourself? And what about wine? Are you a red wine or a white wine man?

I eat out pretty regularly, but I’m something of a creature of habit, so I don’t get out and try new things as much as I should.  I’m more interested in the total experience.  If I’m with good friends, having fun, enjoying a few drinks, and the food is only mediocre…I’m totally OK with that.

I’m actually a White Zinfandel guy.  It’s like…finally, a wine for me, you know?  KIDDING, I’m definitely a red wine guy.  White’s are alright, I’m just so generally unimpressed with chardonnays and pinot grigio and sav blanc that I haven’t yet branched out into some of the less common grape types which I’m sure are some of the more interesting ones.  I have been trying new red varieties lately, definitely digging Malbecs and some of the new Portuguese wines coming out, and I’ve got a syrah/mourvèdre/viognier blend sitting next to me that I’ve been meaning to try. 

There are a heap of good cocktail blogs introducing people to new cocktails and ingredients but do you know of any good wine blogs that cater to the average punter?

Definitely.  Since our site covers not just cocktails, but beer and wine as well, I like to keep up on all of it.  The one I read most regularly is Joe Power’s site Another Wine Blog.  He’s just a regular dude from Texas who happens to be into wine and food, and has a very down-to-earth style that I really relate to.  I’ve also been known to listen to the Winecast podcast when I have the time.  I also enjoy the ever bombastic Gary Vaynerchuk over at Wine Library TV, because while he’s crazy and larger-than-life in his own way, he seems to come from a very honest place, and I totally respect that. He knows his craft and has a serious passion for it, and while it’s can be a bit much to watch 2 or 3 episodes in a row, I think what he’s saying is great for the wine industry and booze in general.  Get to know what you like, explore new things, and develop your palate and you’ll increase your love for the spirit.

Tell me what’s your favourite drink when you are trying to get smashed? I know you love whiskey, but is that really at the top of your list when you are trying to get smashingly drunk?

When I’m really trying to get face-numbingly hammered, it’s all about making something that’s easy to drink while still being high in alcohol content.  Straight whiskey is great, but I prefer to take my time with it rather than pound it, so it’s not as effective when I’m going for the gold.  I don’t necessarily have a go-to drink, but it’s probably going to be rum or vodka mixed with something.  Really, whatever is around depending on where I am.  Beer is ok, but it just requires drinking SO MUCH of it that I simply can’t drink that quantity of liquid, alcohol or otherwise.  Pretty much the techniques I lay out in my Guide to Getting Hammered have all been field tested and approved by me.

You definitely have a lot of good drinking “techniques”, what about curing a hangover. How do you deal with a heavy head in the morning?

I’m in the process of putting together a complete guide to beating a hangover, so I don’t want to give too much away just yet.  I will say that most people underestimate the value of water when they’re trying to beat (or prevent) a hangover.  It’s the one thing your body needs most, to clean things out as well as rehydrate.  Can’t be said enough, DRINK WATER!

Well we’ll definitely read that when it comes out. Thanks a heap for your time and keep up the good work.


There’s so much to say about Melbourne, probably due to the fact that food and drink is not so much the order of the day, but the way of life. On every corner there is some sort of coffee shop or kebab (souvlaki) store, down every alley or lane-way there is another bar (or three), there are 15 different streets dedicated to restaurants and cake-shops and none of this is to mention the amazing deli’s, butchers, greengrocers and fishmongers at the markets. I think the patron sin of Melbourne is gluttony.

These are all the things you read about in the lifestyle magazines, but what you really want to know is if Melbourne is the place to get on the turps or if the restaurants on Lygon St really are all they are cracked up to be.

While I only spent a week in Melbourne, I can’t answer all the questions, but over the next couple of posts, I’ll give it a go.

Quote of the Day – Black Books

On the topic of the booziest TV shows I’m nominating Black Books. Dylan Moran is genius in this boozing and smoking extravaganza, possibly the finest quote from the show:

Bernard: Well, to be honest, after years of smoking and drinking, you do sometimes look at yourself and think…
Fran: [Nodding, smiling] Yep…
Bernard: You know, just sometimes, in between the first cigarette with coffee in the morning to that four hundredth glass of cornershop piss at 3am, you do sometimes look at yourself and think…
Fran: [Still nodding] Yep…
Bernard: … this is fantastic. I’m in heaven.