Melbourne's little Italy may not be your first thought when you are in the mood for a boozy adventure, but Carlton has the drinks angle pretty well covered
The Town Mouse is a casual restaurant-bar with a sharp Art Deco fit-out and a whole lot of Motown. You know you’re dealing with booze professionals when they serve your gin and tonic stained with Campari. And did we mention the wine? Young gun sommelier Lachie Barber (Movida Aqui) consulted on the list, so you’re guaranteed some fun in a glass.
Filling the upper level of Epocha restaurant, Hannah's is a proper European-style bar built for afternoons filled with gin and games of backgammon. Every table is printed with a board. We’ve got no idea how to play, but we like that we could.
The Beaufort, if you’ve yet to make its acquaintance, is a pickle-pushing, swash buckling, rock’n’roll dive-bar (minus the scunge), where you can get a Cherry’n’Jerry (cherry Coke, Sailor Jerry rum), grease your wheels with some deep-fried pickles, and carve ‘hold fast!’ into the bar.
The tiny, well-appointed bar is owned and operated by Leigh and Tom, a genial pair who’ve distilled their hard-earned understanding of what makes a great bar into one small but perfectly formed vessel boasting an extensive collection of whiskies, which includes several from now-closed distilleries. They also happen to have one of the finest mushroom croquettas in town.
The Brandon Hotel looks unassuming. Enter the fairly generic front bar you’ll get a squinty assessment from the locals that says: “Y’all ain’t from round here.” Conquer these gatekeepers and your reward is a really great neighbourhood pub with a sweet bistro out the back.
Here they do $16 cocktails, which is a seafaring steal these days. While on the one hand you should give the menu a good read we say head straight for the classics where you’ll get good value from a Vieux Carre of rye whiskey, cognac, Peychauds and Angostura bitters.
Pizza, pasta and coffee that people would cross deserts for are their bread and butter at DOC Espresso. But if it's a little salumi action with a cold Birra Moretti or a glass of wine that you are after, see these guys and they will sort you out.