Posts Tagged ‘bar’


Mr Wilkinson, Lygon St, East Brunswick

Before a recent concert at the East Brunswick club we walked over the road for a quick beverage at Mr Wilkinson, the not so recently opened, super-cool Lygon St bar. Our visit was short, just a quick beer and a glass of wine from their well established wine list. As is more and more the case, the wine list is a great showcase for Victorian wine and I certainly wish we could have spent more time sampling the entries.

Sadly, the problem was the temperature of the bar itself. It was freezing. The heating was being provided by a couple of small 4 bar oil heaters, and 1 overhead airconditioner blowing warm air near the end of the bar. The bar was reasonably full, but each group was huddling for warmth around their heaters and as all the seats at the front were taken, we sat in the small indoor area past the toilets. There was no heating and we were forced to cuddle up to each other for warmth.

We didn’t however let this little problem enjoying the bar for what it was. The interior is amazing, described to intricate detaul at the Design Files. However, their photos are taken in full light and don’t quite show it in all its night time glory. The long hallway and back area are filled with amazing shadows cast by candles, green and red lights which sets the mood and makes for a really interesting setting. I’ll let the results of the impromptu photo shoot speak for themselves.

This is one of Melbourne’s suburban gems and would have been much better had the designer taken heating into account. I suppose I’ll be back in the summer.

P1010297 The bar man and andrea Outside Mr W Mr W Smoking Area #1 The Bar Andrea The Hallway Andrea P1010308 Smoking Area #2

Double Happiness, Chinatown

Double Happiness is the quintessential Melbourne bar. Small, out of the way and quirky, this is the sort of place that you would walk past without batting an eye lid, but just try that asian inspired door at the top end of Chinatown and you are in for a surprise.

Propaganda at Double HappinessPresided over by a statuette of chairman Mao and state sponsored propaganda, the space consists of an open arrangement of low couches and the obligatory stools at the bar. Forget about boothes and intimate tables for 2, this open community style arrangement forces you into conversing with your fellow drinkers or provides for a jovial place for a larger group. Even the toilets take the community feel with 1 door between seat and smoking area, unisex toilets and one old laundry sink for your hands.

The asian theme permeates throughout the establishment, the cocktail list consists of contemporary cocktails with asian herbs and flavours. Coriander and ginger, lychee and cardamom mixed deliciously in a combination of smashes, sidecars and martinis. Apart from the strange question of  “How would you like your manhattan, sweet, dry or perfect?” the barman constructed a perfectly balanced cocktail with a perfect dose of sweet vermouth, the requested matuselum 12 year old and a healthy dose of maraschino juice (in the absence of liqueur) topped of with 2 cherries.

Subsequent visits have been met by nothing short of happiness from the barstaff to experiment. Reza (sp?) is the man that always seems to be there and most recently was happy to concoct a libation involving a secret Double Happiness recipe spice syrup, coriander, rye whiskey and vermouth which resulted in a very eastern style mint julep. Dangerously easy to suck down, but perhaps not quite ballsy enough. This collaborative effort with yours truly is what sets this bar apart and seems to be a regular occurence.

It seems that the personalised service isn’t restricted to me alone. Behind the bar there are a number of lockers, storing regular customer’s specially ordered bottles of this and that. I’m told they can and will get just about anything and keep it there just for you when you stumble in late at night for a rare single-malt tipple.

Everything about this bar is friendly, the staff don’t necessarily have the orthodox customer service manner yet it is friendly and welcoming. Their attitude is great, capping off what isn’t necessarily the most popular or trendiest bar in Melbourne. It is more like an old favourite, a comfortable place to go for a late night drink on your own or with friends. A place to sip on a great drink that’s not out of your price range but still made with all the care you deserve. Perhaps this is the communist way.

Seating at Double Happiness Toilets at Double Happiness Entrance to Double Happiness Chairman Mao at Double Happiness Propaganda at Double Happiness Seating Area at Double Happiness

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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Cranberry Sauce Cocktails

Last night I worked in the Boiler Room for the first time in quite some time. A few things there have changed, apart from the management changes they have started serving a few light snacks, like cheese boards. Anyway, when I got there reacquainted myself with the surroundings and spotted a tub of cranberry sauce in the fridge. It was clear, I had to make some drinks with cranberry sauce.

While they aren’t necessarily that original, both of these drinks were met with much enjoyment.

Old Fashioned Christmas Lunch

  • Wedge of orange
  • Wedge of lemon
  • Bar spoon of cranberry sauce
  • 2 nips of Wild Turkey bourbon

Muddle fruit and cranberry sauce, stir the bourbon with ice. Strain and serve over fresh ice. Garnish with a wedge of orange.

Saucy Cosmo

  • Bar spoon of cranberry sauce
  • 10 ml of lime juice
  • 1/2 nip of Gran Marnier
  • 1 1/2 nips of Tanqueray Gin
  • 80ml of Apple Juice

Shake contents over ice and serve in a chilled cocktail glass.

Ohau Lodge and the Glen Mary House Bar

As casual observer you might think that the Ohau Lodge is a quiet ski lodge in one of the most remote parts of New Zealand and that it would only cater to a family ski holiday. While no-one would blame you for thinking this you would be horribly incorrect. I will say that it does cater perfectly to Mum and Dad, not only is staying there cheap but it is easy, very easy. The cheap cost of a room (we paid $270 for 3 people) includes breakfast and a 3 course meal for dinner. The lodge itself is nestled in the startling landscape of the South Island’s Mackenzie country, where the bar, dining room and spa pools look out over the breathtaking view of Lake Ohau.

What does all of this have to do with an aching head you may ask? To which, the answer is the Glen Mary House bar. This place may well be the heart and soul of Ohau, it is a bar which you can only wish that every place you go to has. $4 basic spirits and cheap beers would normally be all I would have to say, but it doesn’t stop there. The deck is massive and get’s some great afternoon sun, the staff are extremely friendly and happy to have a chat and the chances that your fellow visitors are going to be like minded are very high.

My mention of the spas is definitely relevant to the hangover that I woke up with, when we checked in we asked the receptionist about the whereabouts of them to which she replied, “Oh they are just over there, and there aren’t any rules. You can drink in them and they don’t have a closing time.” Taking full advantage of that, my companions and I polished off a couple of boxes of beer and pretty much put ourselves on the ropes for the rest of the evening. A couple of gin and tonics, dinner and a couple of glasses of wine and we were well and truly ready for bed.

Dinner was close to the highlight of the stay, (except for the beef and gravy rolls on the skifield) we were served pumpkin and coconut soup, followed by roasted yams and pork belly with a blueberry pie for desert. I certainly didn’t walk away hungry and the preparation and quality of the food was top notch, especially when you compare it to other places within a 200km radius. While the dinner was sensational, the breakfast was somewhat of a let down, billed as a 2 course breakfast the cereal, fruit and coffee was good, not great (although how you have below average cereal beats me) and the hot part of the meal was small, served with no toast and tasted like it had been being warmed for a few hours.

Don’t let me put you off with my lack of enthusiasm for the breakfast though, everything else about my stay was amazing and I’m really keen to go back. Hopefully in the summer when all I’m interested in doing is getting boozed and having a lazy time and not letting something like snowboarding get in the way.