Melbourne Nightlife Blog

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