For 15 years, West Enders called it their local video store. There’s a homage to the dearly departed Trash Video within the bar that’s replaced it: scattered VCR classics like Dirty Dancing and Labyrinth, and a massive painting of old video cassette spines by Melbourne-based artist Dane Lovett. The painter’s brother, Timothy Lovett, together with Ben Johnston, Michael Thompson and Nicholas Goding, have started the End, and even though they’re hospitality newbies they’ve created something special.
Signage is nondescript: you can really only tell the place is open because of the chalkboard propped up outside. Inside is cosy, with plush leather couches, rustic hardwood benches, suspended lighting and knick-knacks from decades ago. There’s a cherry-red telephone from the 1940s, pot plants and other bits and pieces you might see at your grandma’s place.
The End’s specialty is rum: expect Jerry Spiced Rum, Ron de Jeremy and Captain Morgan, Angostura 7 Yr, Kraken, 1919 and Mount Gay. Summer cocktails include classics with a twist: there’s a Chilli and Vanilla Margarita and a Smoked Fig Old Fashioned, with winter warmers like the Hot Buttered Spice Rum and the Mulled Wine enticing in these cooler months. Snacks are limited to cheese boards sourced from local deli Penissi’s and Mick’s Nuts, the nearby bulk nuts and grains store a few doors down.
The owners have their own reasonably priced brews on tap – a schooner of pale ale is $7. A stout ($9), made in collaboration with local coffee roasters Black Star, teams delicate espresso flavours with a full-bodied aroma. The craft beer list is almost as impressive as the bushranger-like facial hair sported by the bartenders.
A capacity of 60 and a snug interior make for an intimate drinking experience. If you’re a live music fiend head to the End on Tuesday for acoustic night, or Thursday, when there’s always a band or two playing. At any other time you’ll be listening to vinyl, and coupled with the old surfing films projected on the back wall, it’s hard not to love this place. Settle in, relax and fade to black.