Bars & Restaurants

I Want You Inside Me

 I want you inside me – a guest blog featuring a prodigal daughter’s utterly biased guide to drinking in Melbourne.

It hard to resist the pull of a beer inside you this summer in Oz

The Trunk Diner on Exhibition Street boasts a  pick up line no Aussie girl can resist…

The thing about a snifter in your hometown, particularly after a long absence, is it’s impossible to be objective. The return becomes a quest for what remains; the point of home is the comfort of nostalgia.

Don’t get me wrong – Melbourne serves up cocktails that stand proudly beside Manhattan or London’s. But what really tastes good to me, is that which stayed the same. For reasons about to become obvious, let’s begin by discussing beer instead of martinis.

You’re always welcome to burn your credit limit impressing me in swanky places. But for pure enjoyment: returning to an utterly unreconstructed old pub in Williamstown, which was a working class dockyards neighbourhood when I grew up there. Many, possibly most, of its 30-plus pubs back then only served draft beer. Now, the homes costs millions, yet some of the old boozers have yet to replace a tile. Just this month, in the Rose Hotel on Ferguson Street, three wags, with the sole purpose of winding up the barman, asked for a martini “shaken not stirred”. He turned purple, never having mixed a drink in his long life. The moment was actually more delicious than his beer.

For good beer – a great selection of Cascade on tap – and bonhomie, I recommend the Morning Star on Electra Street. Contender for the best crap pub in the world ever: the Bristol, on Ferguson Street. Bear, the manager who looks like a – yes you guessed it – has been there for decades. First beer is always free. The cricket will be on. Those curmudgeonly old boys in front of it are the lads I grew up with.

Be aware that Australians are laid back about many things, except beer, and the measures are more baffling than ordering a coffee at Starbucks, so it’s wise to study up before ordering. I’ve included a handy guide below.

Sirens Restaurant

If you must do something fancy in Williamstown, head to Sirens on the Esplanade

If you must do something fancy, ditch the day-trippers on Nelson Place, and head south to Sirens, in an art deco pavilion, on The Esplanade. Perfect end to the pub crawl? A dink home on the back of my mate Tommy Cannon’s bicycle – just like when I was 14.

Back in Melbourne’s centre, in search of a cocktail, I can’t get past the loss of iconic Mietta’s in Alfred Place. My favourite cocktail memories involve my mucker from school days, John Brandl, and spending money here in our early twenties that we didn’t really have. Politicians, thespians, artists… and us… rubbed shoulders, hosted impeccably by Mietta O’Donnell. It’s impossible to discuss fine dining and drinking in Melbourne without appreciating her influence – some further reading below. And it’s hard to believe John’s classmate Bill Shorten is now Opposition leader. There’s been some terrible mistake if it transpires that now we are the grown ups.

Like a lot of Melbourne watering holes, Mietta’s was tucked down a little lane. Wandering through moody alleys is a charming feature of drinking in the centre, one old favourite of which remains: The Gin Palace on Little Collins Street. Getting back on topic here, The Gin Palace specialises in martinis. Ask if they’re still doing the Luis Bunuel’s Surrealist martini, “recipe from My Last Sigh”, for which all the ingredients are frozen for two days.
For hipster chic you must head to Fitzroy. This happened: walking down Brunswick Street, post beverage consumption, aware of a head here and there turning, and thinking, “I must have scrubbed up okay today,” before taking off the shades to realise my admirers were all women. Oh well, I’ll take it, anyway.

Melbourne’s best cocktail bar is The Black Pearl on Brunswick Street and has been forever. Its menu is the sonnet of cocktail lists. Order anything you like – you’ll be seduced… memorably.  Also on Brunswick Street, the Rum Diary Bar, named after the Hunter S Thompson novel. Highlights would be espresso martinis, with coffee pressed out of a lovely old machine, dark rum and vanilla; or the flaming Bacardi 151 served in half a passionfruit.

But did I learn any new tricks? Yes, without the option of Mietta’s, John took me somewhere new – and I highly recommend it. Trunk bar and restaurant at 275 Exhibition Street, back in the centre, in the former Yikveh Yisrael synagogue and school, built in 1859. Inside the old building, with its fabulous vaulted ceiling and old wooden floor, is where the cocktail magic happens. Try the Rooftop martini, with Wyborowa vodka, honey from the bar’s own bees (up on the roof) shaken with white grapes and apple juice.

Almost as delightful is the diner outside, offering a good drinks menu including Bloody Marys with “secret sauce”; Lick Pier alcoholic ginger beer, and Two Hands “gnarly dudes” Shiraz. But almost more appealing are the Aussie-centric milkshakes. These include Tim Tam Slam, Liquid Lamington, and Golden Gaytime – all taken from the after-school treats we grew up with. New trick meets nostalgia – check.

And on the Trunk diner window, a neon sign of a guy in a cap holding a lager fresh from the tap, reads “I want you inside me”. Ah yes, particularly in the Australian summer of now, there’s hardly a beer I meet that wouldn’t illicit that response.

About the Blogger: Lise Colyer heads up the London-based corporate marketing and communications consultancy What’s Your Story? She’s known to enjoy a tipple in foreign cities near and far. Lise can be contacted on lisecolyer@gmail.com.

Restaurants and Bars mentioned in the article

Sirens restaurant in Williamstown
http://www.sirensrestaurant.com.au

About Mietta O’Donnell
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mietta_O%27Donnell

Gin Palace, in the centre
http://www.ginpalace.com.au

Black Pearl Bar, Fitzroy
http://www.blackpearlbar.com.au

Rum Diary Bar, Fitzroy
http://rumdiarybar.com.au

Trunk bar and restaurant, in the centre
http://trunktown.com.au

State by state Australian beer size breakdown*

 New South Wales and ACT
 Pint   568ml     20 ounces
 Schooner   425ml     15 ounces
 Middy   285ml     10 ounces
 Seven   200ml     7 ounces
 Pony   140ml     5 ounces
 Schooner   425ml     15 ounces
 Handle   285ml     10 ounces
 Seven   200ml     7 ounces
 Queensland
 Jug   1125ml      40 ounces
 Pot   285ml      10 ounces
 Beer (some pubs)   200ml      7 ounces
 Schooner (some pubs)   425ml      15 ounces
 Middy (some pubs)   285ml      10 ounces
 Five (some pubs)   140ml      5 ounces
 Seven (some pubs)        7 ounces
 Ten (some pubs)   285ml      10 ounces
 South Australia
 Pint   425ml      15 ounces
 Schooner   285ml      10 ounces
 Butcher   200ml      7 ounces
 Pony   140ml      5 ounces
 Tasmania
 Ten or Pot/Handle   285ml      10 ounces
 Eight   225ml      8 ounces
 Six   170ml      6 ounces
 Small Beer   115ml      4 ounces
 Victoria
 Schooner   425ml      15 ounces
 Pot   285ml      10 ounces
 Glass   200ml      7 ounces
 Small Glass   170ml      6 ounces
 Pony   140ml      5 ounces
 Pint   568ml      20 ounces
 Western Australia
 Pot (see comments below)   575ml      20 ounces
 Schooner   425ml      15 ounces
 Middy   285ml      10 ounces
 Glass   200ml      7 ounces
 Bobbie   170ml      6 ounces
 Pony   140ml      5 ounces
 Shetland   115ml      4 ounces

 

Table reproduced with permission from AustralianBeers.com.

 

2017-04-12T12:18:13+00:00 February 4th, 2014|