Melbourne Nightlife Blog

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

12 May, 2008

New Review: Wesley Anne

Clem Bastow has reviewed the well-established Wesley Anne on High Street, Northcote for Epicure and manages to put her fragrant humour to work on the 2am drinking bans aswell. Well worth a read.

New Bar: Cristál

South Yarra has gained another quality drinking establishment according to the Deck of Secrets team. The recently opened Cristál Bar on Chapel Street, South Yarra is designed to impress "mixing nouveau glamour with old world charm". Click here to get the quick rundown or visit their website here.

Notorious Sydney pub bans alcopops

The Steyne Hotel, Manly, recently ranked fourth on a police list of hotels reporting violent incidents in New South Wales. In a move to combat this, the hotel has made the bold decision to ban the sale of pre-mixed drinks from its bar. The Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA) has described the move as a "really positive step".

Source: ABC Online

Kids increasingly tolerant of regular drinking

The Dolly Youth Monitor, which has regularly surveyed 10 to 17 year-olds since 1992 has found in their latest biannual survey that 80% of the 600 kids and teens surveyed believed regular drinking was acceptable, a considerable increase on the 64% in 1992.

Source: The Age

08 May, 2008

New MiniBar booklet out now

Last week saw a new release of the Minibar series of booklets, Minibar 11, was released by Beat Magazine. We were hoping that it'd be up on the Beat website by now so we could link to it, but it looks like you might all have to wait a bit longer - or better yet, your normal Beat distributor might still have a few copies lying around.

Once again "masterminded" by Leighroy Merrick, this edition sees reviews for Argy Bargy, Back Bar, The Cherry Tree, Chill On (Funk bar and the ice lounge), Cho Gao, Destino Latin Bar, Electric Ladyland, Element Lounge, eleven a, Ember Lounge, Eurotrash, Gertrude Hotel, The Grand, Heist, Hoo Haa, Hotel Nest, Hubcap, J'wow, The Mint, Mosq, Mothers Milk (Windsor and Brighton), Nectar Lounge, NextLevel @ Hotel Barkly, Ondergronds, Prahran Hotel, Public House, RedLove, Rehab, Richmond City Hotel, Society and White Bar. And the best news? It's still free.

Logic locked out

In an opinion piece for the Herald Sun, Tim Wilson, a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne, writes about the "dumb" decisions regarding a 2am lockout. He says the root causes of the problem are bar tenders serving alcohol to intoxicated patrons and inadequate police presence in the inner city at night. Click here to read the full article.

05 May, 2008

Why the alcopop tax is unAustralian

Claire Masters had the following to say in today's Daily Telegraph:
"...where do we draw the line? If we continue with this nanny state mantra governing the masses with an iron rod to protect the few, then where does it end? Don't step on the grass, no colouring outside the line, don't smoke in your car with children (actually I agree with this one) and no drinking in your own home.

You might think that last one was just a glib, off-the-cuff remark but no - that's exactly where it could end."

This is a follow-up to the NSW Government announcing that under radical new alcohol laws to be introduced on July 1, regulation can restrict the sale, supply, possession and consumption of liquor on any premises.

Source: Daily Telegraph

Alcohol trigger may have been found

What do you find in postmortem male brain tissue samples from 14 chronic alcoholics and 14 age-matched male individuals with no history of alcohol abuse? The beta-catenin protein that is involved in cell signaling and development is found at higher levels in alcoholics than those without a history of alcoholism. "We have identified a protein that may be a cause of alcohol dependence and tolerance, suggesting the possibility of developing a drug to inhibit the molecule and treat the disease," said Qiang Gu, PhD, author and senior professor at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

Source: Science Daily

03 May, 2008

Radical alcohol laws introduced

Beginning June 3rd, people will not be allowed to enter licensed venues in the CBD after 2am. Existing patrons will be allowed to remain on licensed premises until 7am or the end of the venue's allocated liquor license - whichever is earlier. Further, no new liquor licenses will be approved for venues hoping to open after 1am.

Victorian Premier John Brumby says the binge-drinking problem justifies such a move when he announced these restrictions yesterday as part of a three month trial in inner-city pubs, clubs and bars. He also announced a $17.6 million Liquor Licensing Compliance Directorate to be established within the Department of Justice. “This directorate will be responsible for the inspection and enforcement of liquor license laws and will be staffed by 30 inspectors and six lawyers,” Mr Brumby said. It is believed the directorate will also employ underage patrons to test age restrictions at venues.

The move comes from implementations of late entry bans in Ballarat, Warrnambool and Bendigo were successful, according to the Government, seeing a reduction in alcohol-related crime.

The reaction from Police has been positive, with Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon embracing the moves. "We know the majority of alcohol related violence occurs on the streets as people move from venue to venue, not in the actual venues themselves," she said. According to the Herald Sun, VicHealth boss Todd Harper said the reforms were the most significant in decades.

Brian Kearney, from the Australian Hotels Association, tentatively supported the lockout, with the provision that lower-risk venues be excluded. The Director of Liquor Licensing has advised of some exemptions from the lockout, and that these will only be granted to restaurants, the Crown Casino floor and licensees with full club licenses such as RSLs.

The public reaction has been intense with newspaper websites getting hundreds of comments and several new groups and events on Facebook appearing including "OFFICIAL MELBOURNE 2AM LOCKOUT PETITION, sign up and send to everyone" and "I will party on Parliament House steps in protest against the 2am curfew". The latter tells members "by joining this group you pledge that If the 2am curfew comes into effect, you will leave the clubs, bars and pubs at 2am and protest on Parliament House steps every single friday night until the curfew is lifted." has launched a website,, monitoring the discussion around this issue.

Source: Victorian Government, The Age 1, 2, 3 & Herald Sun.

New Review: Sweatshop

Clem Bastow has reviewed the recently opened Sweatshop on Lonsdale Street for Epicure. "With West Coast Coolers and long necks in brown paper bags, why would you go anywhere else?" Click here to read the full review.

Industry: Risky teen drinking is down

The number of heavy drinkers aged between 14 and 19 has been lowering over the past few years according to research cited by industry analysts. Industry analysis of the official figures shows teenage girls and boys who are drinking at risky levels (five or more drinks a day or 29 or more drinks a week for girls and seven or more drinks a day or 43 or more drinks a week for boys) has steadily declined over the past six years.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

02 May, 2008

Drunks cannot feel fear

According to The Washington Post, "a new brain scan study shows drinking actually dampens the biological ability to feel fear."

Source: Washington Post

WA wants alcohol health warnings

Today at a meeting of the nation's food regulation ministers, Western Australia will call for mandatory health warnings on alcohol packaging, according to the ABC. This follows on from discussion of the idea at COAG in March.

Source: ABC

01 May, 2008

Adult bingers forgotten?

Anita Quigley, in her last column for the Daily Telegraph writes about the Australian public's obsession with alcohol and how raising the price of pre-mixed drinks by a $1 will not fix the larger social issues driving a nation of older binge drinkers.