Melbourne Nightlife Blog

16 November, 2008

Lockout a failure

An independent report commissioned by the Victorian State Government on the effectiveness of the 2am lockout trial found an increase in reported violence and assaults over the three-month trial.

Lockout scrapped. Victorian Premier John Brumby has backed down from continuing the lockout; "We've decided as government we will not be continuing with a permanent lockout." New efforts to curb binge drinking in the CBD include more police, increasing the power of Liquor Licensing Victoria and a "time out" or "sobering up" zone.

More Police on the streets. 50 extra police officers will be on the street patrol during weekends, with 150 extra police officers to be added over Summer. A closed-circuit television (CCTV) van will also be set up and drive around the streets recording street activities in an attempt to make city streets safer.

Increasing the power of Liquor Licensing Victoria. The Director of Liquor Licensing Victoria will gain power to ban individual pubs and clubs from serving alcohol.

Time out zones to be created. Staffed by volunteer groups and offering up water, tea, coffee and the chance to lie down for a few hours.

Source: ABC News, The Age & Herald Sun

10 October, 2008

Saftey Summit Solves Little

We reported almost a month ago on City of Melbourne plans for a Safety Summit to help combat street crime, violence and drunken behaviour. Well, it appears the summit has failed to reach any consensus on how to tackle the issues raised. The ABC summed it up as "summit participants failed to agree on any new measures to reduce violence."

However, several bars have individually stepped up and are voluntarily introducing bans on buying rounds of drinks after 1am. Escobar, Ding Dong Lounge and QBH are trailing the idea of only giving customers one drink at a time after cur-off. Sue McClellan, Director of Liquor Licensing Victoria, said she supports the trial, but won't be forcing other clubs to adopt it.

Source: ABC News 1 & 2

06 October, 2008

New Bar: Yah Yah's

What do Pony and Bar Open have in common? They're owned by the same people as the latest Smith Street arrival - Yah Yah. As Clem Bastow describes in her latest Epicure review, "Yah Yah's is a rock'n'rollin' bar like they used to make: from its ruby-red walls and "beer or beer or hard stuff" drinks menu to its no doubt soon-to-be-sticky carpet and Superman II-esque chandeliers..." Click here to read the full review.

Look out for your drunk friends

I can't say I've ever read the Jamaica Gleaner before, but Angela Philipps seems to have written up a nice article for young women considering another alcohol-fuelled night on the town. So good, I'm going to give you a fairly large chunk of the article here in the hope you you click through to read it in its entirity...

"It's not my intention to tell all you single lasses out there that you must absolutely never drink alcohol, nor do I want to frighten you about what it can make you do if you consume more than you are able to handle. What I really mean to say is that you should be aware of the feelings it can give you. If you're not used to it, then start by sharing the experience with a small collection of close friends.

When you're ready to be on the party scene, make a pact with them all that each of you will be looking out for one another. Try and be the voice of reason for the one who looks as if she might get into a bit of trouble. Alcohol might be blurring her vision, but don't let it blur yours!"

Click here for the complete article

New Review: Bar None

"It's the location, with its connotations that you are participating in something a little shady, that really give Bar None its edge." Michael Harden reviews the hidden bar, Bar None, on the border of Hawthorn East and Camberwell for Epicure. "The adventure of finding such a place in Camberwell is worth the trip alone but it is when you start thumbing through the voluminous drinks list that you realise this is a bar with a serious dedication to good booze." Click here for the full review.

New Review: White Rabbit Record Bar

Larissa Dubecki reviews Kensington's White Rabbit Record Bar where you can shop for vintage vinyl or merely stop by for a few drinks. "This hybrid music store and bar could well leave punters wondering why alcohol isn't served in more record stores about town." Larissa also mentions some of White Rabbit's cocktails, including some of their own infusions, such as coriander vodka in a Mad Hatter or a coriander and wasabi-flavoured Bloody Mary. Click here for the full review.

18 September, 2008

The Saint under scrutiny again

The Saint Hotel on Fitzroy Street, St. Kilda has made International headlines again for getting introuble with liquor regulators over risque promotions. Sue Maclellan, Victoria's liquor licensing director today ordered Saint Hotel licensee Cameron Manning to scrap his "No Undie Sundie" event. The night run by Birdhouse managed to raise criticism after advertising in Beat magazine with the infamous paparazzi photo of Britney Spears getting out of a car without underwear and offering free drinks when women flashed their bra or undies to staff. They also offered a $50 drink card for women hanging their undies on a line above the bar. Combined with drink offers including $9 cocktails and $6 jager bombs, the advertisement and night have raised significant controversy.

Deb Bryant, a Melbourne Centre Against Sexual Assault spokesperson, said the event was no laughing matter. "It is totally irresponsible, using women to promote those sort of views let alone in terms of irresponsible drinking... It's not appropriate, it's sexist and just encourages inappropriate attitudes towards women."

The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) also said The Saint was a maverick "sexist" venue and out of step with community standards. Bill Healey, AHA chief executive, said "We are continuing to work hard to ensure that all licensed venues promote responsible consumption of alcohol and we believe this promotion is inconsistent with this objective."

The Saint was also caught up in controversy in June when it employed a dwarf to pour liquor down the throats of patrons, and would risk a fine of $13,000 and its licence if it defied the ban.

Source: NineMSN & BBC News

Government research: Taxes are good

A report on the social harm caused by alcohol, published by the Department of Health & Ageing, has been released and supports increased tax on alcohol. Commissioned by the previous federal government in 2006, the report shows that $15 billion worth of social harm could be significantly reduced with the introduction of higher taxes on alcohol.

"Young people are more influenced by the price of alcohol, so that increasing the tax rate on alcoholic drinks which are specifically targeted at the youth market (for example, alcopops) is likely to be effective," it says. "There would appear to be strong justification for the April 2008 increase in the Australian tax on pre-mixed drinks by 70%."

Costs of alcohol abuse were estimated by comparing current mortality, morbidity, health costs, workplace productivity, crime levels and road crashes to a hypothetical situation with no alcohol abuse. The Age is reporting this contradicts The Lancet medical journal, which last month said the tax hike would do little to stop binge-drinking by young people, as they would simply switch drinks.

Source: The Age

16 September, 2008

Beer-based alcopops avoid alcopop tax

Following the tax increase on alcopops (pre-mixed spirit drinks), there was speculation alcoholic drinks producers and consumers would switch to wine or other alcohol products to reduce the cost of alcohol consumption. It appears that speculation was correct.

Independent Distillers have announced a new drink, Bolt, to be offered in raspberry, passionfruit and blueberry flavours. Bolt is intended to taste like an alcopop drink, yet it will be an estimated $25 a carton cheaper than pre-mixed spirits. This is possible because Bolt is made with alcohol derived from beer, rather than from pure spirit. Beer taste characteristics are stripped out during production. Packaged beer is taxed at $39.40 a litre of pure alcohol while ready-to-drink beverages carry a tax of $66.70 a litre of pure alcohol.

Source: The Age

15 September, 2008

New Review: Siglo

If you could judge a bar soley by the quantity of reviews it receives, you might be thinking Siglo is Melbourne's hottest bar. Michael Harden (Epicure) and Deck of Secrets have already had their say - now Kirsten Law reviews it again for Epicure. "Overlooking a resplendently lit Parliament House with the spire of St Patrick's Cathedral looming behind, Siglo is the crown of Con Christopoulos' shrine to degustation... The prevalence of Spanish and Portuguese on the menu sets the ambience for the coming summer nights; think romantic dates and convivial gatherings." Click here for the full review.

New Bar: Southpaw

Gertrude Street continues to be revived with another new bar, Southpaw, in bustling Fitzroy according to the Deck of Secrets team. "With original bluestone walls, arched doorway and a stained glass window, the cavernous fit-out of this latest Fitzroy bar addition gives way to a comfy, unpretentious vibe. The massive hard wood bar top, open fireplace and chandelier lend a classy edge and there’s a colourful courtyard out the back." Click here to visit Deck of Secrets.

New Bar: White Charlie Cocktail Lounge

The Deck of Secrets team have uncovered a new venue to join the Chapel Street party - White Charlie Cocktail Lounge in Prahran. "Standout features include a glamorous specially commission wall mural of the Melbourne skyline surrounding the dancefloor, and a open-roofed terrace smack bang in the middle of the venue – perfect for sultry summer nights." Click here for a full review of the bar/restaurant/club hybrid or visit the official website.

New Review: Black Pearl

Clem Bastow has given a briefer-than-usual account of the Brunswick Street staple Black Pearl. In Epicure she writes that despite the boastful showiness of the venue, Black Pearl offers a decadent experience in the heart of the Bohemian strip. "A visit to Black Pearl could start from pre-party drinks, carry through to all-night whisky tasting and onwards until you're asked to leave." Clem also recommends visiting mid-week to avoid the "Brunwsick Street masses on a Saturday night." Fine words indeed, click here for the full review.

12 September, 2008

Minibar 12 booklet out now

This week's Beat Magazine comes with the twelfth installment of the Minibar series of booklets. Since the last release in May, Leighroy Merrick has put together twenty-eight new reviews for venues in and around Melbourne.

Venues that stayed in from number eleven are;
Argy Bargy, Balaclava
Back Bar, Windsor
Cho Gao, Swanston Street
Eurotrash, Coors Lane
The Grand, Richmond
Highlander (also known as Eleven-A), Highlander Lane
Nectar Lounge (Formerly Six Links), Flinders Lane
Public House, Richmond
White Bar, St. Kilda

New venues not in number eleven are;
Alluva, Bourke Street
Antique Bar, Elsternwick
Balcony, Little Collins Street
Bimbo Deluxe, Fitzroy
Bird Cage, Brighton
Chaise Lounge, Queen Street
Cocoon Bar, Swanston Street
Cristal, South Yarra
Drunken Poet, West Melbourne
Katuk, South Yarra
La Di Da, Little Bourke Street
Platform One, Flinders Street
Scarlette Lounge, Richmond
Stadium Bar, Waverley Park
Tiki, Richmond
Tongue & Groove, St. Kilda
Tryst, South Yarra
White Charlie, Prahran
Y Bar, Hawthorn

So make sure you pick up your free Minibar booklet from your regular Beat Magazine dealer.

City of Melbourne Safety Summit

The City of Melbourne has announced plans for a Safety Summit to help combat street crime, violence and drunken behaviour - to take place within the next two weeks. The move has received support from key stakeholders including Premier John Brumby, Victoria Police and the Night Club Owners Forum. The Summit will also invite the Liquor Licensing Commission, ambulance and emergency services representatives.

"This is a complex issue, but Council believes that adopting a co-ordinated, multi-agency approach will provide us with the best opportunity for success" said Councillor Peter Clarke, who led the push for the Summit.

The Summit will discuss key initiatives including:
More Police asking the Victorian Government to fund and direct Victoria Police to increase its numbers by at least 25 effective officers during the peak periods of midnight to 5am in Fridays and Saturdays.
Create a steering committee with multiple stakeholders asking the Ministers for Police and Consumer Affairs to convene a steering committee with Council and the Melbourne Licensees Forum to develop an action plan, focussed on city safety and amenity.
Flat fare taxi zones asking the Victorian Taxi Directorate to examine the potential of flat fare zones for taxi services during the peak periods of midnight-to-5am on Fridays and Saturdays so as to prioritise the use of taxis at those times for patrons leaving the city.
Bringing forward implementation of existing policy asking the State Government to immediately fund the staffing of the proposed enforcement arm of LLV, currently promised for the 2009-10 financial year.

Source: City of Melbourne & The Shout.

HRH mistakenly sent 12 barrels of beer

The Queen was mistakenly sent 2,000 pints of beer when Windsor Castle was consfused with a nearby pub of the same name. Royal staff had no record of the order when a truck arrived with 12 barrels of larger ahead of a World Cup qualifying match. A telephone call revealed the mistake - the beer was intended for the Windsor Castle pub, eight kilometers away. "We have received mail for the royal household here before but I think this is the first time they have received anything meant for us," said Misko Coric, pub manager, who had ordered the beer for the football match.

Source: The Age

Melbourne is Australia's top nightlife destination

Well, according to Tourism Victoria's latest survey anyway. Statistics released in May also showed Melbourne had overtaken Sydney for the first time in domestic tourism earnings, with tourists spending $400 million more in Melbourne than its larger rival. Melbourne managed to rank number one for shopping, food, cultural and sporting events and romance in the survey of 1200 Australians in June. In the category of "Interesting cafes, bars and nightclubs", Melbourne was first with Sydney and Brisbane coming in second and third, respectively.

Source: The Age

Internet shopping's dirty little secret

The Age had picked up a story from the Los Angeles Times describing a global Internet phennomenon - BUI, or buying under the influence. "It's the vodka nights that really get me into trouble," said Kelly Krause, a film publicist by day, "I once woke up and I had spent $700." But that wasn't inflated bar prices - she prefers to stay in for her ideal bender. "On Mondays, she sips white wine, watches The Hills and then visits to buy accessories from actor Lauren Conrad's wardrobe. Friday nights involve vodka-tonics and a date with About those Tory Burch flats? 'I own several pairs and I don't recall buying one of them sober,' she says."

And apparently this is a growing trend, in Britan "[t]here's a book Shopping While Drunk: Confessions From Modern Life and in 2005 the research firm Conchango deemed the syndrome BLOTO (Buying Loads Of Tat Online)."

"It's fun," Krause says, "and it's the only thing you can do after a few drinks and not have any regrets."

Source: The Age

Strip clubs to face licensing review

The Victorian Government is still hitting out at nightclubs, and at strip nightclubs in particular. The Government has ordered a review of Melbourne's table top dancing bars and is considering new liquor restrictions for venues offering sexually explicit services, according to The Shout.

Tony Robinson, Victorian minister for Consumer Affairs, said "It’s interesting that with brothels we don’t allow alcohol on the premises ... but it seems we blur that distinction a bit with [strip] venues".

Peter Iwanuik, owner of strip clubs Men's Gallery and Centrefold Lounge, described the move as a knee-jerk reaction. “They clearly haven’t learned from the 2:00am lockout fiasco. It is irresponsible and anti-community.”

Source: The Shout

New Review: Napier Hotel

Michael Harden reviews the eccentric Fitzroy local, The Napier on Napier Street, for Epicure. "The Napier Hotel is one of the suburb's most Fitzroy-ish pubs and not just because of its proximity to the over-the-top grandeur of the Town Hall." And of course, like every good Napier review, there is a mention of the infamous Bogan Burger; "a stomach-turning stack of steak, chicken schnitzel, potato cake, bacon, egg, cheese, onion, pineapple and beetroot served between slabs of Turkish bread, with wedges and salad on the side, $15.50". Click here for the full story.

Premier: Nightclubs "on notice"

Victorian Premier, John Brumby, has told liquor license holders they are being put on notice - and they should take more responsibility for alcohol-fuelled violence or face tougher regulations.

"Licence owners need to understand what it is that the Government is saying, and saying very clearly, and that is, we want you to take more responsibility," the Premier said to ABC News.

"You are the licence owner, you own the business and you are required to comply with the terms of your licence."

John Brumby said the Government will not hesitate to introduce more restrictions if club owners do not take more responsibility.

"It is against the law to serve people alcohol when they are clearly intoxicated. We have got tougher already and we will get tougher still with licence holders if they continue to breach the law."

Peter Iwaniuk, spokersperson of the Nightclub Owners Forum, said the spike in alcohol-related crime was the result of a lack of necessary infrastructure to cater for vast increases in demand for night time entertainment in the city.

The Shout reports Nightclub Owner's Association spokesperson, David Butten, had similar comments on Radio 3AW; "The amount of visitors has increased by 6 per cent each year [and] Melbourne’s population is increasing dramatically,” he said. "There’s some factors that people just don’t appreciate in terms of what’s happening with Melbourne’s dynamics."

Source: The Shout & ABC News

08 September, 2008

Man dead in QBH assault

Matthew McEvoy, a 25 year-old Cranbourne man, died yesterday in hospital after a violent encounter outside of the QBH nightclub in Southbank. It is alleged Mr. McEvoy became involved in an argument with another man in the smoking area of the nightclub about 2:30am and was punched in the head. Later, a second man is alleged to have kicked him in the head. Andryas Tello, 21, and 18-year-old Laurn Sakoof, both from Roxburgh Park, have been charged with intentionally causing serious injury and faced Melbourne Magistrate's Court today.

Gary Jamieson, Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner, warned that alcohol-fueled violence in the CBD could get worse before it gets better. "That's always our concern, that we haven't hit rock bottom," Mr Jamieson said. He also added that "the licensees themselves have a lot to answer for in not supporting the (2am lockout) proposal."

This fatal attack was the second involving QBH in two years, following the death of Shannon McCormack, 22, in April 2007.

Ross Blair-Holt, chief operating officer of ALH Group which runs QBH, defended the club, saying the weekend fatality was "very tragic" and his staff had been left traumatised. "The view of management and security personnel is that the people involved were not intoxicated at the time... We did everything we could possibly do. We had the right number of security and we also had St John Ambulance on duty on the premises and the person assaulted was attended to 15 minutes quicker than had he waited for an ambulance." Mr. Blair-Holt went on to say "as for the wider problem, the key issue really is a lack of police presence in and around the city."

The Age is also reporting on a separate incident, where a man from Kealba was rushed to hospital after having his jugular slashed in an altercation at the Loft nightclub on Lonsdale Street.

Police are urging anyone who witnessed the assaults to come forward or contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Sources: The Age, ABC News 1 & 2

05 September, 2008

Flying pot takes to the skies

Carlton Draught have demonstrated their brand-new marketing weapon to the unsuspecting Melbourne public - a 30-metre-high pot glass, filled with Carlton Draught (complete with froth), floating in the sky.

The hot-air baloon was made for use during the AFL finals series, and will then tour Australia. "We loved the idea of a giant flying pot glass," said a Carlton Draught spokesperson. "We also figured the sight of it in full flight would turn heads." The pilot-driven balloon is believed to be the first shaped like a pot in the world.

Source: The Age (Includes Picture)

New Review: Little Creatures Dining Hall

Clem Bastow works her magic on Brunswick Street's newest arrival. "The Dining Hall is the boutique brewery's first large-scale foray into nationwide supremacy. Housed in what was once ground zero for brides with money to burn, the old Mariana Hardwick shop, the fit-out is impressive in its size and effect, if a little cavernous. All exposed bars, beams and pipes criss-crossing white-on-white, it creates a sense of a brewery "cellar door", or at least what Joe Public probably thinks a brewery looks like, while an open kitchen at the far end provides movement and warmth." Click here for the full Epicure review.

UK radio DJs criticised for drinking comments

Radio presenters in the United Kingdom have been criticised for promoting heavy drinking as a way to appear cool to their listners. Bristol University researches listened to 1,200 hours of output from six radio stations and analysed the proportion encouraging drinking. According to their research, under 50% of all comments about alcohol on the radio encouraged drinking, but in output from just presenters the figure jumped to 73%.

"Alcohol was frequently positioned as a marker of the weekend, and a hangover as a marker of a good night out," said lead researcher Professor Norma Daykin.

"The notion of not drinking alcohol to enjoy yourself, particularly at times of celebration such as Christmas and New Year, seemed unthinkable."

Source: BBC News

New Bar: Bar Etiquette

Sydney Road, Brunswick has a new lounge bar - Bar Etiquette - with "quality micro brews, wine and spirits".

"Sydney Road's newest neighbourhood watering hole is an oasis of civilised drinking in an uncivilised world. The mood is affable, the furniture Hard Rubbish Chic, and you can enjoy your space, whether that be downstairs propping up the bar, sucking face with Nick O'Teene in the back courtyard, or lounging in a series of upstairs rooms tricked out in vampiric red, Chinese paper fans and parasols, and electric imitation fireplaces." Full Three Thousand Review.

"A quirky new local lounge for Brunswick bar hoppers to explore, focusing on primo beers and micro-brews without the posh price-tag. There’s no confusion over tap prices with pots here, pints and jugs costing the same regardless of the boutique brew you in opt for." From Deck of Secrets.

Visit the official website for pics, menus, contact info and a map.

2am Lockout Expired

The recent 2am lockout introduced in early May and active since June 3, ended on September 1.

Police response
Police Commissioner Christine Nixon has said the lockout had a limited success in Melbourne as many clubs were exempted from the trial. "We think it is part of a strategy. We will wait to see what the evidence is, but we think we are seeing some decline because of that 2:00am lock-out."

Government response
Premier John Brumby said "I think the evidence will show there have been some positive benefits and it'll also show that there have been some issues."

Opposition response
State Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu said "John Brumby's lockout was a shambles. The implementation was a total failure, with so many exemptions that any lessons we might have learnt to help fight against record street violence were undermined."

Public response
A Herald Sun poll asking readers if the lockout had been successful had a majority against the lockout. 85% of the 1,500+ votes recorded a negative view on the lockout.

Going forward
Premier John Brumby said the Government would not make a decision on the lockout's future until it had reviewed all relevant information. "I have a completely open mind in the future as to whether we continue with a lockout, similar lockout, maybe a better targeted lockout, a broader lockout... or perhaps no lockout at all."

Source: ABC News, Herald Sun 1 & 2, The Age 1 & 2

New Bar: Portello Rosso

Gourmet Pizza in the CBD anyone? Portello Rosso (Below Murmur, 15 Warburton Lane, Melbourne) has dubbed itself a pizzeria and jamón (spanish ham) bar with a "tight yet diverse range of Italian and Spanish wines and beers" according to its website. The Deck of Secrets have said "The warehouse feel has been retained and imbued with a warm and cosy fit-out including a secluded mezzanine." Click here for their full write-up.

29 August, 2008

New Bar: Nixon Hotel

It calls itself Melbourne's newest football pub, and being staggering distance from the Telstra Dome certianly doesn't hurt it. You'll find The Nixon "diagonally opposite Gate 3 of Telstra Dome" tempting you with a variety of drinks and eats. Deck of Secrets says "The Nixon’s broad range of local and international brews should provide ample satisfaction for pre- and post-game revelers." Click here for their review or visit the official website.

28 August, 2008

New Review: 1806

It seems Melbourne can't get enough of 1806 at the moment, thanks to winning the world's Best Cocktail Menu they've managed another high-profile review. Michael Harden has reviewed 1806 (Exhibition Street, CBD) for Epicure and concludes: "This bar takes itself seriously but never loses sight that drinking cocktails is fun. It is, unlike [Tom] Cruise and [Bryan] Brown, a winning combination." Click here for the full review.

New Bar: Baba

When I hear "Section 8's swanky uncle" as a description for a bar, well, I'm interested to say the least. Deck of Secrets has reviewed the new bar Baba on Lygon Street, Brunswick East, and they seem impressed. "Baba is an elegant restaurant and bar hybrid of the Levantine theme... clean modern furnishings, a graffiti inspired mural along one wall and ample legroom." Click here for their full review or visit the official website (with menu) here.

New Review: Handsome Steve's House of Refreshment

Hidden in the Abbotsford Convent is the lovingly titled Handsome Steve's House of Refreshment, which Kirsten Law describes as "charmingly off-kilter evening, complete with kitsch decor, in possibly the smallest space in Melbourne". Click here for the full Epicure review.

New Review: Church Street Enoteca

Kirsten Law writes for Epicure: "Fine dining of the traditional European type is the norm here, but if you're a Richmond local starved of nice places to take your visiting friends or family, Church Street Enoteca could come in handy." Click here for the full review.

New Review: Von Haus

"Von Haus taps into a demographic that likes good food and booze and is not afraid to pay for it." And in so few words, Michael Harden has once again set the background of another excellent bar review. Reviewing Von Haus (Crossley Street, Melbourne) for Epicure he describes retro decor, European eats and a small space that is "uniquely Melbourne". Well worth the read.

26 August, 2008

New Rooftop Haunt: Sarti Outdoor Terrace

Russell Place has a new Rooftop bar above the well-respected Italian eatery Sarti, according to Deck of Secrets. "For a classy rooftop tipple, check out this quaint laneway haven atop a renowned Melbourne restaurant. Sarti’s outdoor terrace is simple and elegant – an undercover patio with an elevated dining area extends out to a more casual umbrella and park bench setting, potted plants and there’s even a wood-fire oven!" Official restaurant website and the full Deck of Secrets review!

New Alley Life Reviews

Since we last posted about the blog Alley Life, they've added seven new reviews - which we'd like to share with you.

MOO (Money Order Office) (Little Bourke Street, CBD)
"Situated in the Basement of the historic money order office; MOO boasts a sizable wine collection, an intimate restaurant and a location that shows how a classy basement bar should be done. I’m reluctant to tell people about this place because I want to keep it to myself (and friends), but its too good not to share." Read more.

Revolver (Chapel Street, Prahran)
"Time is a foreign concept inside Revolver as not matter what time of the day or day of the week it is, the party is always only just starting." Read more.

The Lounge (Swanston Street, CBD)
"In the wee early hours of the morning, when everything else is closing, The Lounge is still offering up somewhere to keep the night going." Read more.

Double Happiness (Liverpool Street, CBD)
"This tiny little bar brings a little bit of Asia and its love of utilising small spaces to Melbourne." Read more.

Borsch, Vodka & Tears (Chapel Street, Windsor)
"Be it for a drink or for food, this widely renowned restaurant brings a little bit of Poland to Chapel Street for all to experience." Read more.

Recorded Music Salon (Collins Street, CBD)
"Recorded music salon is somewhere unimposing that allows you to kick back and focus on catching up without having to think too much, all the while enjoying a good cocktail." Read more.

Section 8 (Tattersalls Lane, CBD)
"In M.A.S.H. Klinger’s way out was with a Section 8, which was the discharge the army handed out for the mentally insane during the war. Section 8 takes its name from this, while showing that one is needed in order to create something so left of field, yet so successful." Read more.

15 August, 2008

New Bar: La Vita Buona

Deck of Secrets have discovered Gerard Anderson's latest bar, La Vita Buona, in the City Square (Corner of Collins and Swanston Streets). "La Vita Buona, Italian for 'the good life' is bar, deli and cellar so you can drop by on the way home to collect a nice bottle of wine for dinner or stay for a glass and a snack." Designed by Six Degrees, La Vita Buona, is the third bar from Gerard Anderson who also runs the nearby Caboose. Click here for the full Deck of Secrets write-up.

11 August, 2008

Street View drunk identified

The man in the Google Street View picture that made it to the front page of popular social-news website Reddit five days ago has been identified by The Age. The picture was submitted to Reddit on August 6, and quickly received 154 up votes before being removed by Google.

The submission received 29 comments on the internationally-accessible website, including "Since it's Australia I'm surprised there's only one guy" and "For some reason, as soon as I saw this, I knew it would be somewhere in Victoria. Possibly because my uncle used to live near there."

Tongue-in-cheek speculation about the identity of the lone man on a Lakes Entrance street started quickly. "Oh that's Drunk Phill, the town drunk. He's there from 8-5, Monday-Friday." Thanks to journalists at The Age we can now report who the man actually is.

His name is Bill
Well, kind of, The Age has decided to help the man regain some of his privacy and elected to use the pseudonym Bill. Apparently Bill had been drowning his sorrows over the weekend after attending the funeral of his best friend, who died recently in a freak boating accident. The Friday funeral, and subsequent drinking, had left the man feeling "worse for wear" on the morning of February 4. "Come Monday morning, I got out of the taxi and rolled over on the grass and went to sleep on the footpath", he said.

What does Bill think about the international exposure? "I'm not too happy about it - I mean, I shouldn't have been there in the state that I was in but I wasn't really thinking there would be someone driving past with a video camera on the roof filming me either."

Source: The Age

10 August, 2008

New Reviews: Melbourne's Alley Bars

I like stumbling across venue reviews, I especially like stumbling across a trove of venue reviews I haven't seen before - and thanks to my recent discovery of the blog Alley Life I'm quite happy with my erratic web browsing (or virtual stumbling, as I sometimes prefer to call it). Macca and Rob are the hosts at the blog Alley Life, and aim to "expose the secrets of the vibrant Melbourne night life to residents and visitors". Here is a selection of their top rated bars:

1806 (Exhibition Street, CBD)
"There are many ways to draw a crowd into a bar, cheap drinks, food, nights for the 'ladies', 1806's hook is to offer patrons the ability to try cocktails from the first known use of the word..." Click here for the full review by Macca.

Cookie (Swanston Street, CBD)
"Cookie is an experience that certainly must be had and is without a doubt one of my favorite bars in Melbourne, especially for the extensive beer list..." Click here for the full review by Macca.

Seamstress (Lonsdale Street, CBD)
"I like to think of myself as a bloke, so when presented with the idea of going to Seamstress I was a bit sceptical. I spent the time working out how a cocktail bar based around sewing could work. However upon entering the colourful cocktail bar on the 2nd floor, I wondered why I had been weirded out so much..." Click here for the full review by Macca.

Murmur (Warburton Lane, CBD)
"This small cocktail bar hidden away off Little Bourke Street is well worth a visit for their menu, which is real experience for the taste buds..." Click here for the full review by Macca.

Robot (Bligh Place, CBD)
"On nights when Robot isn’t busy, this tiny bar will successfully export you from the inner city of Melbourne to the streets of Tokyo." Click here for the full review by Macca.

They've currently got 16 reviews on their website and I reckon all of 'em warrant a look. Alley Life.

08 August, 2008

New Bar: The Bird Cage

Brighton has a new bar, The Bird Cage, with quite a few "feathery inspired" cocktails on offer according to Deck of Secrets. "Concentrating on tasty tapas and grazing style dishes, it’s split into five separate sections including a main bar, lounge area and dining room, as well as side-walk seating and a private function space." Click here for their full description.

Jim Beam apologises for stalker ads

Today's Age is reporting spirits company Beam Global Spirits and Wine closed their website The Neighbours after upsetting health groups and the government. The website was a part of a television advertisement linked to an "even racier website" intended to promote Jim Beam. According to The Age the website contained a woman washing dishes topless and was accused of treating women as sex objects and promoting stalking. James Sykes, marketing director for Beam Global Spirits and Wine, admitted that the site had been shut down because it was "unacceptable".

The Jim Beam move has reignited debate about alcohol companies needing regulation for Internet-based advertising campaigns. The current process of self-regulated advertising code requires print and broadcast advertisements to be pre-vetted by an independent panel - Internet promotions are currently exempt from these measures.

Source: The Age

05 August, 2008

Herald Sun: Lockout pushed back to 3am

The Herald Sun is running a story that the 2am lockout could be moved back an hour, to create a permanent 3am lockout across Victoria. Tony Robinson, Consumer Affairs Minister, is said to be considering the option while John Brumby, Premier, said no decision would be made ahead of an evaluation of the existing trial. The Herald Sun believes a 3am lockout is "backed by key sections of the liquor industry".

Source: Herald Sun 1 & 2

Police powers increased

Friday onwards, Police will have the ability to ban people for 24 hours in the precincts of Fitzroy, St Kilda, Ballarat, Geelong and Warrnambool for being drunk and disorderly. For more serious offences Police can apply for a court-order banning individuals from an entertainment zone for up to a year. The move follows on from the successful testing in Melbourne's CBD and Prahran. People banned for 24 hours won't incur a criminal conviction and the infringement will be excluded from a criminal history check. Breaching a 24-hour ban carries a penalty of up to $2,202. The measures are intended to reduce alcohol-related crime, The Age believes this move could signal an end to the existing lockout measures.

Source: The Australian & The Age

04 August, 2008

1806 has the world's best cocktail list

First we heard about it from Deck of Secrets, then The Shout picked it up, and now The Age is talking about it too. Melbourne's cocktail bar 1806 (Exhibition Street) has taken out the prestigious Best Cocktail List award at the sixth-annual Tales of the Cocktail festival in New Orleans, USA. The award puts the amazing 1806 cocktail menu - containing a drink from every decade since 1806 (when the word cocktail was first recorded in print) - as the world's best cocktail menu. It makes 1806 the first Melbourne bar to receive an award from the festival.

According to The Age, Owner Sebastian Reaburn thought the win also highlighted Melbourne's growing reputation in the cocktail business. "People in the industry now talk about New York, London and Melbourne as the best cocktail cities in the world."

03 August, 2008

New Review: Cumulus Inc

Joining the Deck of Secrets and ThreeThousand reviews of Cumulus Inc (Flinders Lane, Melbourne) is Clem Bastow with her recent review for Epicure. "If you want good design that isn't alienating, fine wine without stuffiness, and great, unpretentious food, Cumulus Inc. is just the ticket." Click here for the full review.

VB "too cold" at international beer festival

And in a fluff piece for The Age, David Wroe reports from Berlin "you can get it eating bratwurst. You can get it wearing lederhosen. But German beer lovers, it seems, didn't quite get it at all." Click here for the full story.

31 July, 2008

Beer rant ahoy!

It's been a while since we've had someone venting their nightlife-related frustrations in here, but it looks like James Jeffrey in his recent article "A nation ales as the common coldie epidemic strikes" in The Australian deserves to be included.
"It can be a tough thing for a nation as self-consciously beer-loving as ours to face up to, but drink most Australian beers and you just know, deep in the darkest chambers of your broken heart, that the average polecat is capable of brewing something better in its bladder. This explains our obsession with cold beer: the colder it is, the less you can taste it. Ben Elton once observed that while in an English pub you might occasionally find lipstick on your glass, in an Australian pub you might find a whole pair of lips." Click here for the full rant about the land of Icy Cold beer.

Study: Tax the amount of alcohol in a drink

Volumetric taxation of alcohol would be the most cost-effective way to combat binge drinking according to an Australian study funded by Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation (AER) Foundation. Banning alcohol advertising would be the second most cost-effective and sustainable measure with raising the legal drinking age to 21 years coming in third.

Christopher Doran, from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, and Theo Vos from the University of Queensland, co-authors of the study say volumetric taxation and banning alcohol advertising should be a high priority.

"We need a fairer system that taxes alcohol as alcohol, rather than having different rates for beer, wine or spirits" said Daryl Smeaton, chief executive of AER in The Age. "Volumetric taxation makes sense from an economic, health and community perspective and is a crucial first step that needs to be taken in order to change patterns of alcohol consumption."

Currently wine has the lowest taxation of any alcohol beverage, based on alcohol content. If a volumetric tax were to be implemented it would be expected to raise the price of wine, and cask wine in particular. According to The Age, winemakers recently told a Senate enquiry that volumetric tax "would lead to a drop of 250,000 tonnes less in demand for grapes and 3,500 people losing their jobs".

Source: The Age

New Reviews: Little Creatures Dining Hall

It hasn't been open a month yet, but the reviews are already flowing in for the Little Creatures Dining Hall (222 Brunwsick Street, Fitzroy).

Marinella Padula, Deck of Secrets;
"Almost as long-awaited as the iPhone, there was little chance of a ‘soft’ opening where Little Creatures was concerned. Conceived as a concept pub and retail store to showcase the range, brewery operations are still run out of Fremantle but it’s definitely the next-best-thing for LC fans." Click here for the full review.

Michael Harden, Epicure;
"Little Creatures Dining Hall is certainly a beer barn, but a good-natured, reasonably stylish member of the species. It does the usual industrial-chic shtick that you expect in a place this size - concrete floors, exposed metal pipes, massed metal light shades, foil-lined roof, industrial-strength heaters - but it also cosies it up a bit with some cute, slightly kitschy touches such as strings of coloured lights and posters describing the brewing process glued to the brick walls." Click here for the full review.

The Fitzroy Dining Hall now also has its own page on the Little Creatures Official website.

Cherry still under repair

After reporting on the fire at Cherry Bar in June, it's been a long wait for some people as they await the return of the ACDC Lane staple. So much so that have sent out a newsletter from Cherry's management for those wondering when Cherry will be ripe once again;

"Sadly, Cherry will not be reopening for a period of 3 - 4 months due to the lengthy reconstruction of the roof.

We are all pretty devasted by this news from the buildings owner.

However, we have comandeered our neighbour 'Alley Bar' thu/fri/ sat nights for some rock action! Cherry DJ's , staff and main man Bill Walsh as your host.

Free entry and all the usual hospitality and charm that cherry regulars have become accustomed to!!! 9pm till late."

New Review: Silk Road

Fancy a "a blinged-out super-venue with ornate crystal chandeliers, ceiling frescoes, carved dragons and a generally confusing mishmash of artistic influences loosely themed on the famous trading route, ranging from Michelangelo's Rome to art deco"? Well you might like Silk Road on Collins Street, according to Larissa Dubecki in Epicure. "Take a sense of humour for the daft good fun to be had here, and a credit card for the somewhat expensive experience." Click here for the full review

28 July, 2008

The "alco-swap" has begun

As the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia's (DSICA) Alco Tax Rip Off website claims Australians have spent an additional $145 million tax on pre-mixed drinks due to the federal government's recent tax increase, they've also noticed a major "alco-swap" occurring. The council said while sales of pre-mixed spirits are down, sales of straight spirits are up.

DSICA's Stephen Riden told ABC Radio "between April and June there was a 30 per cent decrease in the volume of alcohol sold in pre-mixed drinks but unfortunately a 46 per cent increase in the equivalent measure for bottled spirits." Family First's Victorian Senator Steve Fielding has been quoted in the Herald Sun saying "We have turned a drinking problem into a tax problem."

The federal government says the DSICA figures do not allow for normal seasonality in alcohol purchasing and show "the industry is prepared to selectively use data to protect their profits at the expense of young Australians."

Source: ABC Transcript, Herald Sun & The Shout.

New Bar: Cumulus Inc

Andrew McConnell is probably best known for the award-winning restaurant Three, One, Two in Drummond Street, Carlton. Although that might all be about to change. Three Thousand and Deck of Secrets are both talking about his new bar, Cumulus Inc, that was designed by his wife Pascale Gomes-McNabb.

Three Thousand: "Whether food or alcohol is the fetish, Gomes-McNabb has got your back, as one bar allows drinkers to ogle barmen working with liquor and another sees diners facing the open kitchen, as chefs shuck their oysters and slice their slow cooked pork..." Click here for more.

Deck of Secrets: "The spacious and airy room was previously a gallery, perhaps this was a concept that inspired the designer to create such a transparent environment..." Click here for more.

Cumulus Inc is at 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne. Official website

19 July, 2008

Loud music makes you drink faster

A recent study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research has found loud music in bars can make people drink faster in fewer gulps and order more drinks. This is in addition to existing research that shows fast music can speed up the rate of drinking. One of the reasons given for increased drinking when there is loud music is because people cannot converse; "patrons drank more because they talked less". The study secretly observed 40 men aged between 18 and 25 drinking beer over three Saturday nights in a bar where they could modify the music - the average time taken to drink a beer fell from 14.51 minutes to 11.45 minutes when the louder music was playing.

Source: LA Times & Reuters

18 July, 2008

New Review: Revolver Upstairs

Clem Bastow meets the Chapel Street institution Revolver Upstairs for her most recent Epicure reivew. "Split between the band room, back bar, and Thai restaurant, Revolver is one of those venues that very much suits a turn-up-for-dinner-and-leave-at-breakfast sort of evening's entertainment." Click here for the full review.

New Bar/Night: C grade

The dormant Mercat Cross Hotel (456 Queen Street, right in the middle of the Queen Vic Market) is about to be revived by Michael Delaney of Honkeytonks and Third Class fame. Few details have been released so far, but Three Thousand and Deck of Secrets seem to be fairly interested in the concept. DJs announced so far are Ooh Ee and Bongmist and The Rusty Trombones. The first night will be this Saturday the 19th with free entry before 10pm, $5 entry at 10pm, $10 entry at 11pm and $15 entry for the rest of the night. Click here to see the official MySpace

New-ish Bar: The Parlour

What exactly is a new venue? We've been pretty lenient of late allowing venues who open a rooftop section to claim it's a new venue - well, now we're being even more tolerant. There is reason though, and that reason is Madame Brussels. The bar with indoor Astroturf that thinks it's a Pimms-branded garden party has relaunched it's hidden Grotto as The Parlour.

Just to the right side of the Madame Brussels (Level 3, 59-63 Bourke Street) bar you'll find a white picket fence, on the other side lies a "wonderland of another kind altogether" according to Deck of Secrets. "More like Grandpa's old club rooms. Expect elegance and, if you're in luck, Miss Pearls can on occasion be seen swinging from the chandelier." We're unsure if The Parlour will require the same level of commitment as the Grotto to get in (invitation, polite asking or pre-bookings only), but we're quite sure booking ahead (especially with groups of six or more) will help avoid disappointment.

Once in the Parlour you will receive your own personal waiter who, according to their website, "will stir your desired concoction of refreshment using genuine art-deco cocktail apparatus, and splash your scotch with a proper soda siphon".

Click here for the Deck of Secrets information or visit the official website.

15 July, 2008

Bargain hunting Melbourne's nightlife

The Age has recently published a Melbourne "guide to living well on a budget". Here are the ones we thought you might be interested in:

Cheap Pizza
Bimbo Deluxe, Fitzroy
Lucky Coq, Windsor
Daily pizza specials are "$4 for any selection (try saganaki, green olive and lemon, or mascarpone and eggplant) every weekday lunchtime and from 7pm, Sunday to Thursday."

Cheap Beer
Public Bar, North Melbourne
"Remember $1 pots? A bit like the '60s: if you do, you probably weren't there. One stalwart stills keeps the faith: North Melbourne's Public Bar pours out dollar drinks every Monday and keeps costs low throughout the week."

Mumbler, Richmond
"Richmond's Mumbler offers a quiet way to start up or wind down the weekend with microbrewed beer pots only $2.50 on Thursday, Friday and Sunday afternoons."

Cheap Spirits
Alderman, Brunswick
"More genteel sorts might head north to Brunswick's the Alderman, where top-shelf spirits won't break the $7 mark."

Free Gigs
"Of the 150 or so local gigs happening around town every week, roughly half are completely free, meaning that, in these difficult fiscal times, catching a live band need not break the bank... Sunday to Thursday are the prime freeloading days, when bands just starting out, or perhaps a little too interesting to reach a broader audience, come out to play."

The Espy, St Kilda
"The Esplanade Hotel is a hot spot for broke-ass rockers. With three separate band rooms running almost every night, there's a surfeit of choice, and only the occasional big gig in the Espy's Gershwin Room will charge entry."

Other suggestions:
Greyhound Hotel, St Kilda
Local Taphouse, St Kilda
Pure Pop Records, St Kilda
St Kilda Bowling Club, St Kilda
Lomond Hotel, Brunswick
Mi Corazon, Brunswick
Retreat Hotel, Brunswick
Brunswick Hotel, Brunswick
Rainbow Hotel, Fitzroy
The Night Cat, Fitzroy
Wesley Anne, Northcote
303, Northcote

Click here to read the full Age guide with even more tips for cheap fashion and free arts fun.

Darwin drink driver spends $1100/week on beer

Michael Leary, a Darwin man who has been convicted for the seventh time for drink driving, spends almost $1100 a week on his favourite beer - Melbourne Bitter. Darwin Magistrates Court heard how the construction worker and father-of-four spends his $1440 post-tax pay packet; $150 on rent, $150 on transport (buses and taxis), $50 on his phone and the rest on beer. Enough money to buy 27 slabs of Melbourne Bitter a week according to

Google Chart

Leary's defense lawyer Vannessa Farmer said Leary didn't drink "anything else" but Melbourne Bitter - and was "going on a bender" after his relationship broke down five years ago. She also mentioned he had gone "cold turkey" since his last arrest, participated in a rehab program and sold his motorbike.

Magistrate Vince Luppino said "(That is) poor judgement on two counts there - drinking that much and drinking Melbourne Bitter,", sending chuckles throughout the Court gallery. Describing his actions of speeding on his motorcycle while intoxicated and having no license in conjunction with his prior convictions of drink driving - including killing someone in 1989 - Mr Luppino said "You didn't learn... (and) that certainly acts as a black mark against you in my book."

He was convicted, fined $100, sentenced to a fully-suspended four-month jail term and is on a 12-month alcohol intervention order - which bans him from holding or buying beer. He has also lost his license for a further three years.


14 July, 2008

New Review: Fusion

Clem Bastow, aware of the Melbourne bar scene stigma, was willing to give a Crown Casino bar a visit. In Fusion she found a fun alternative to the average "no image" Melbourne bar. As she writes in Epicure, "Fusion's kit-out of mirrors and feature lighting gives the venue a rather retro feel, a little Studio 54." Click here to read the full review.

12 July, 2008

Alco Tax Rip-off

The Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia, a spirit industry lobby group, have launched a new website called Alco Tax Rip Off to show how much tax is being collected by the recent increases in pre-mixed drink tax and protest the "unfair 70% tax increase" on pre-mixed drinks. It follows on from growing criticism of the tax, and the website highlights dissenting media articles, a current estimate of tax raised and links to supporting statistics.

Sources: Alco Tax Rip Off, & ABC

10 July, 2008

New bar & restaurant: Little Creatures Dining Hall

You've been waiting for it, and now it's here! 222 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy is where you'll find the much-awaited official venue for drinking one of Western Australia's favourite microbrews - Little Creatures. Open seven days from 10am, this new beer hall is ready and waiting! Click here to see the first picture on the official Little Creatures website. Thanks to for the tip-off, click here to see their venue page.

Nintendo game gets media bashing for encouraging teen drinking

America is the inventor of "beer pong" and has now also created a Nintendo Wii game matching much of the drinking game's ping pong tossing action. Beer pong, according to Wikipedia, is a "drinking game in which players throw a table tennis ball across a table with the intent of landing the ball in one of several cups of beer on the other end". A similar objective is the goal in the JV Games Nintendo Wii game Pong Toss, which has pulled much of the alcohol content, but with a teen-friendly rating experts are worried about the potential link.

"When a behavior is modeled or practiced in any form, it becomes more likely to be practiced in the future," said New York psychologist Eva Levine. "Kids are very susceptible to this type of media. I see it all the time with young kids and adolescents. It's definitely true that children that are exposed to alcohol use are much more likely to engage in alcohol behavior."

While Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal worried that games like Pong Toss might have more dangerous consequences than other types of violent games - saying binge drinking was a much more realistic outcome from playing Pong Toss than driving dangerously would be after playing Grand Theft Auto.

Source: ABC News & Wired

UK doctors want cigarette-style warning pictures on alcohol

A meeting of the British Medical Association (BMA) in Edinburgh saw a "substantial majority" of the attending 400 doctors voting in favour of a motion by Dr Raj Nirula, a urologist at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, to try and combat binge drinking in the UK. He said doctors had taken the lead on highlighting dangers of smoking and should do the same with excessive alcohol consumption. "There is an epidemic of binge drinking the UK. We have to start from an early age with the teenagers. Binge drinking is becoming the norm culture."

What the doctors want:

Graphic images of diseased livers and mouth cancer displayed on alcohol products and in pubs and bars - warning about the heath risks of drinking too much.

The price of soft drinks lowered in bars and pubs (as they are often more expensive than alcohol meaning drinkers have little incentive to choose a non-alcoholic drink).

Mandatory labels showing alcohol units per drink on bottles and bar taps.

Source: Telegraph & Independent

New Review: Sahara

Clem Bastow reviews Sahara on Swanston Street, Melbourne for Epicure and writes; "Functioning as a cafe during the day and a snacky watering hole at night, Sahara has a drinks list that remains as cheap as ever, with what has to be my favourite genre heading of all Melbourne's drinks menus: "Nice Drinks"." If you'd like to hear a little bit more about this student favourite bar, click here to read the full review.

New Bar: Bosito's

From the Spirit Fingers team, who brought you Double Happiness and New Gold Mountain, comes a new bar outside of Liverpool Street. Mr. Bosito's Liquor Bar is described by Deck of Secrets as "Melbourne's new Euro-style breakfast bar" on Bridge Road, Richmond. "Prosciutto, pancetta and breasola hang over the counter deli-style, while buffalo mozzarella and pan-fried haloumi beckon from the menu." Click here to read the full description at Deck of Secrets or visit the official website for a peek at their menu.

New Bar: Destino Latin Bar

Deck of Secrets has found an "authentic dash of Mexico for Melbourne" in the new Destino Latin Bar on Chapel Street, Windsor. Click here to read their update.

New Bar: Silk Pagoda Rooftop at Red Hummingbird

Despite the winter chills, the rooftop bars keep opening. Deck of Secrets has just recorded that The Red Hummingbird on Russell Street now have a new top-level temptation. "Take cover beneath the blushing red shelter, curl up up in a hanging-basket chair and peek through shimmering silk lanterns for a view of the city skyline." Click here to read their full report.

New Review: Atticus Finch

Michael Harden has reviewed the new Atticus Finch (Lygon St, Brunswick East) for Epicure, which was also just recently posted by Deck of Secrets. He concludes "Atticus Finch is one of those carefully realised bars that reward repeated viewings. Playing to character type, it appears quiet, unassuming and pleasant enough at first meeting, and then gradually wins you over with its solidity, generosity and good-heartedness." Click here to read the full review.

01 July, 2008

Sydney's Melbourne-inspired bars to start opening today

"Smallbar" is expected to be the first bar to open in Sydney on the 1st of July under the new Small Bar legislation. "It seemed the most logical thing to call it," co-owner Luke Heard said, according to the Daily Telegraph. "Our aim is to be the first small bar to open... and hopefully not the first to close."

Source: Daily Telegraph

22 June, 2008

The 2am Lockout Exemption List

As part of the rules of the recent exemptions to the 2am lockout, venue owners are not allowed to advertise the fact they are allowed to let patrons in after 2am. They cannot, however, stop people from creating a list of venues that are letting people in - and this is exactly what is occuring on Facebook. Matthew Freedman has created the Facebook group "The list of pubs, bars and clubs exempt from the 2am lockout", which is actively investigating which venues are open after hours.

They currently list 81 exemptions:

3D Nightclub -
A Bar called Barry (Only Exempt Saturdays) -
Alumbra -
Amber Lounge -
Bar 20 -
Baroq -
Base Backpackers -
Billboards -
Blue Bar -
Borsch, Vodka & Tears -
Boutique -
Bubble -
Builders Arms Hotel - 211 Gertrude St
Candy Bar -
Centrefold Lounge -
Charlie's Bar -
Charltons -
Chasers -
Cherry Bar - (Currently closed from a massive fire)
Circus Bar - 199 Commercial Rd, South Yarra
Court Jester Hotel -
Cushion Lounge -
Ding Dong Lounge -
DV8 -
Electric Ladyland -
Escobar -
European bier café -
First Floor -
Ginger Cocktail Bar -
Goldfingers -
Hyde Bar -
Icon Bar -
Inflation -
Kittens -
Korova Milk Bar -
La La Land -
Lounge -
Love Machine -
Marquee -
Melbourne Supper Club - 161 Spring Street
Mink -
Mothers Milk -
Negroni Bar & Grill - 477 Collins St
Onesixone -
Phoenix Bar -
Pony -
Prince of Wales + Bandroom -
Pugg Mahones -
Q Bar -
Red Violin -
Retro -
Revolver -
Robarta -
Roxanne Parlour -
Seven -
Shamiana -
Shindig -
Silk Road -
Spearmint Rhino -
Tankerville - 230 Nicholson Street, Fitzroy
The Carlton Hotel -
The Croft Institute -
The George Bar - 127 Fitzroy st
The Gin Palace - 190 Little Collins Street
The Loft -
The Long Room -
The Market -
The Mens Gallery -
The Peel -
The Saint Hotel -
The Social Bar -
The Toff -
The Tunnel - 590 Little Bourke St
Third Class -
Tramp -
Two Floors Up -
Valve -
Viper Room -
Wah Wah Lounge -
Welcome Stranger - 128 Bourke Street
Xchange -

Turbulence ahead for drunk pilots

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is close to signing a $9 million testing agreement with Symbian Health according to The Age. The agreement is for random drug and alcohol tests for aviation workers throughout Australia. Workers caught with a blood-alcohol content of .02 or more, or who test positive to illicit drugs (cocaine, cannabis and opioids) face fines up to $5500 and could be fired.

Source: The Age

Our Booze Blues: Why do we drink?

A brilliant essay in Scotland's Sunday Herald addresses many concerns currently faced by Melbourne. James Alexander asks in his well-crafted piece "I suppose we need to ask ourselves if we want to be a nation that can't control our drinking. Are we proud of that?". It closes with a Scottish teenager, Douglas Dickson, saying "The only way to stop people drinking is making them not want to drink." Sage advice indeed.

Source: Sunday Herald

New Bar: Atticus Finch

East Brunswick's Lygon Street is quickly becoming a bit of a destination. With another new bar in Atticus Finch. Deck of Secrets says "with its semi retro feel and eclectic assortment of knic knacs, Atticus Finch retains a sense of understated elegance and graceful appeal". Click here to read the full update.

New Bar: Rusk

Caulfield South has a new bar, Rusk. "With soothing autumnal hues, white marble bar and bamboo feature wall, the compact front bar section is ideal for cosy drinks or nibbling traditional South African delights like the Biltong & Wors - a traditional South African dried coriander spiced beef and sausage selection." Click here to read more.

New Review: The Gem

Michael Harden would like to take you to Collingwood for a traditional inner north pub experience at The Gem. "The Gem used to be called Curry's Family Hotel and despite the framed Elvis portraits, the tattooed bartenders and a crowd that leans towards chunky boots and skinny jeans, the welcoming, unpretentious vibe suggested by the former name still holds sway." Click here to read the full Epicure review.

Freshly revamped: The Undertaker

Hawthorn's Undertaker has been renovated according to Deck of Secrets, and it sounds like there has been quite a change. "A classy refurb at this local watering hole has seen the relocation of the Dining Room upstairs, making way for an urbane new ground floor beer and wine bar lauded as ‘The Social.’" Click here to read about the updates and gawk at the photos.

New Review: The Vic

Abbotsford's The Vic is the most recent bar to be reviewed by Clem Bastow for Epicure. In summary; "Whether you're en route to dinner or escaping the Ikea mega-store, The Vic is an ideal stopover." Click here to read more about this friendly bar.

17 June, 2008

TheHappiestHour party Cancelled

The number one website for finding happy hours in Melbourne, TheHappiestHour, has had its official relaunch party cancelled. According to their blog post, "the venue owner received a letter from the powers that be today stating that by hosting the party, it could be in violation of some Responsible Drinking Laws". Is this a direct attack on Melbourne's number one happy hour website? Feel free to read all the speculation you can handle in the comments section of their blog.

10 June, 2008

New Bar: Radio

It doesn't seem that long ago that Gertrude Street was known for alcoholics, now it's a little hipper the old pubs are being renovated and new ones are popping up too. Radio is a cafe during the day, but after 5pm it becomes a late night attraction too. According to Deck of Secrets, "the raw, earthy decor is as understated as the outside except for an attention grabbing city-scape panorama plastered across the wall." Click here to read their impression.

New Review: Don't Tell Tom

"Tom is one of those institutions that is one man's breakfast joint to another man's late-night (ish) watering hole." Clem Bastow reviews this slightly-quieter Brunswick bar Don't Tell Tom for Epicure - click here to read her evaluation.

New Bar: White Rabbit Record Bar

Deck of Secrets have stumbled upon a new Kensington bar with a colourful retro-inspired decor that serves not only serves drinks, but records and CDs too. "Don't come expecting to find a psychedelic disco - this more your laidback local lair than hot and happening house-party." Click here to read their account.

New Review: Le Bar

Michael Harden visits Le Bar in Crown Casino with the conclusion "Le Bar is a sexily gloomy, dark-hued, ultra-luxurious boozer that is worlds away from the sound and fury of the casino proper." Click here to read the full review.

06 June, 2008

Fire near Cherry Bar

Cherry Bar has suffered water, heat and smoke damage during a fire at the nearby offices of Fifteen Restaurant and the Fifteen Foundation. Cherry Bar's owner, James Young, says tomorrow's gig featuring The Living End will go ahead despite the blaze and damage.

Source: Herald Sun & The Age

05 June, 2008

Nixon upset over lockout exemptions

Police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon has expressed her own concerns over the future of Melbourne's lockout after 112 late-night venues have been exempted from the plan to ban patrons from city nightclubs after 2am.

"These people who own these premises, I wish they hadn't have gone for these exemptions, I think that we should have given it a decent trial... We still have the trial and three quarters (of venues) will still be part of this, but I think they should have had more responsibility." Commissioner Nixon told Fairfax Radio.

Source: The Age 1 & 2

New Review: Siglo

Another rooftop bar? Well, why not... "Ascend the stairs of this city institution, the Melbourne Supper Club, and you’ll find this Italian style rooftop watering hole." Click here to read what Deck of Secrets had to say. You can also find our link to the Epicure review here.

New Review: Sentido Funf

Sentido Funf, once called Yelza, on the corner of Gertrude and Brunswick Streets, Fitzroy, has been delighting patrons for some time now. Clem Bastow sums it up for Epicure with "Sentido Funf will please those looking for a corner to sink into as much as it will those with partying on the agenda." Click here to read the full review.

More than 100 exemptions and counting...

Following on from the May 30 victory, 117 clubs have applied to have an exemption from the "2am lockout" with 112 successful according to the Herald Sun. The Australia highlights this means one in five venues originally targeted are free to let people in after 2am.

Source: Herald Sun & The Australian.

Melbourne protest a "success"

Organisers for the protest against Melbourne's radical drinking laws have marked the movement a success. An estimated three to five thousand protesters marched to the steps of Parliament house on May 30, venting their anger against a 2am curfew.

Organisers have said they intend to keep up the fight. The crowd cheered when told by Brian Frewin from the Association of Liquor Licensees of Melbourne that a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) decision means 50 venues are exempt from the ban, with further exemptions expected to take place in the coming days.

Source: ABC & The Age. Photo courtesy of Sarah Jackson.

28 May, 2008

Protest against Melbourne's radical drinking laws this Friday

Billed by the promoters as "one of the largest protests in Generation Y’s history", a protest is planned at Parliament house this Friday the 30th of May at 5pm. Spurred on from the surprise trial law restricting access to a majority of venues from 2am, the protest plans to visually demonstrate those opposed to the plan.

Visit Melbourne Locked Out for more information.

(The picture is taken from the associated Facebook group.)

Police Commissioners for alcohol reforms

Police Commissioners from Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia are quoted in the Herald Sun pushing for further changes to alcohol regulation. The suggestions come just under a week before trial drinking bans hit Melbourne on June 3rd. The suggestions according to the Herald Sun are:

TAX. Consideration of higher taxes for higher alcohol drinks and tax breaks for lower alcohol drinks.
SEATS. Discouraging "vertical drinking", where patrons are encouraged to drink standing with nowhere to put glasses, encouraging faster drinking.
LICENSEE ACCOUNTABILITY. Promoting licensee accountability to cut the amount of alcohol being served to drunk and under-age patrons.
SOBER-UP ZONES. Establishing sobering-up centres as alternatives to locking up drunks.

Source: Herald Sun

New Review: Von Haus

Deck of Secrets covered it, now ThreeThousand are reviewing the new Melbourne bar Von Haus. Penny Modra sums it up as "way, way too fricken awesome" and "the kind of bar that deserves Melbourne's hushed appreciation". Click here to read the full review.

26 May, 2008

New Review: Tuscan Bar

Clem Bastow is delighted by the Tuscan Bar interior designer's ability to restrain themselves when designing the latest chandelier-laden bar. Located just above the old Gaslight Records on Bourke Street, "Tuscan Bar's Italian-inspired fit-out is definitely lavish, but it manages to avoid the more Franco Cozzo-esque trappings." Click here to read the full review in Epicure.

New Bar: Von Haus

Little is the new black, apparently. If you like small, intimate spaces then Von Haus might be just what you're after. Deck of Secrets has reported this new bar on Crossley Street could be Melbourne's smallest bar. "Intimate and cosy, don't come expecting loud music and rowdy gatherings. Also keep an eye on the upstairs gallery and art space for exhibitions and showcases." Click here to read their full article.

19 May, 2008

New Bar: The Local Taphouse

Beer, beer, beer! It's about time another beer-loving bar opened in Melbourne, and it sounds like The Local Taphouse might just be it. Located on Carlisle Street, St. Kilda East, they claim to showcase a selection of beautiful beers on twenty taps. Yes, you read that right - TWENTY TAPS. Click here to have a look at their write-up in Deck of Secrets or go straight to their blog for their latest news, events and a listing of their current taps.

New Bar: Mockingbird

Clem Bastow has reviewed Mockingbird, a new bar on St Kilda's Fitzroy Street for Epicure. Her thoughts? "With friendly staff and a so-relaxed-it's-almost-horizontal attitude, Mockingbird might be a new-ish addition to the Fitzroy Street crawl but its spirit is strictly old-school St Kilda." Click here to read the full review or have a look at the St Kilda Today blog for a big picture.

New Review: Bar Lourinha

Kieran O'Shea reviews Bar Lourinha on Little Collins Street for ThreeThousand. "Friendly, talkative and communal, Bar Lourinha offers some of the finest tapas and European wine in the city." It appears this Spanish bar has quite a bit going for it, including an interesting menu and passionate staff. Click here to read more.

New Bar: Siglo Bar

Michael Harden reports in Epicure on the latest trend of Melbourne's bars - balcony bars. With the introduction of Victoria's new smoking laws they seem to be popping up in increasing frequency. In particular he has a look at Siglo Bar, next to the Princess Theatre on Spring Street, Melbourne. "This rooftop watering hole has literally and metaphorically raised the bar." Click here to read the full review.

Alcopop tax enough?

Steve Fielding, Family First Senator-elect, will apparently take on the government and its moves against binge drinking as he holds back his support for the proposed pre-mixed alcoholic drink tax rise.

"If the Rudd Government is serious about creating a culture of responsible drinking, and it wants to prove the alcopops tax is not just a tax grab, (it) would also introduce alcohol warning labels to alcopops and all other alcohol products," Mr Fielding said.

Bob Brown, leader of the Australian Greens raised similar concerns and along with independent Nick Xenophon the three men will share the balance of power in the new Senate. None of the men have committed support to the Government's tax rise and the Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson has promised to block it.

Australia currently has no uniform tax on a set measure of alcohol - taxes on a litre of wine, beer or spirits are all different. Shadow treasurer Malcolm Turnbull added that the move only added to the anomalies of alcohol taxation.

The Age has taken the opportunity to rehash expert opinion on the alcopop tax issue, listing the following expert's opinions in support of the government's move with their recent article:
"Evidence around the world shows that volumetric taxation is one of the most effective levers for reducing excessive consumption." - John Rogerson, chief executive of the Australian Drug Foundation.
"International evidence demonstrates that taxing alcopops at the same rate as bottled spirits will change the consumption patters among young people and lead to less alcohol-related harm." - Daryl Smeaton, chief executive of Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation
"There is now drastic evidence showing that young women are out-drinking their male counterparts, and unfortunately many of them drink to get drunk. This has been helped by the ready availability of cheap spirit-based drinks, which have become the first drink of choice for young women." - Professor Mike Daube, president of the Public Health Association of Australia
"It's easy to ridicule such measures but they tend to be surprisingly effective." - Professor John Toumbourou, Deakin University
"Using taxation or pricing as a lever for reducing harmful consumption is a really good idea." - Rob Moodie, chairman of the National Prevention Health Taskforce
"Frankly, the more we can do to make these sweeter beverages less available to young people, whose bodies and brains are still developing, the better." - Professor Richard Mattick, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.

Source: The Age