Melbourne Nightlife Blog

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.