First published on 2 Oct 2011. Updated on 29 Feb 2012.
Melbourne’s got itself a big old cocktail crush, and Matt Rees of Der Raum is one of the guys who got us hooked on the strong stuff. Originally from Ballarat, Rees went from “waiting table to making milkshakes to bartending”. Now helming inner-city speakeasy Bar Americano, when Rees makes cocktails he “strives to provide a drink that’s more than the sum of its parts.” That goes for the mixology masterpieces at Der Raum, to the 4 ingredient max classics at Americano. “One cocktail might change the way someone thinks about drinks in general.” Damn straight. No amount of liquid nitrogen or bottle flipping is more impressive than a well-made Negroni, and Rees knows it. “The aesthetics of making cocktails is a big part of the attraction. That said, you’re probably not going to catch me working on my flair routine anytime soon.” We hope not.
Last Call: “A Negroni, probably the ideal cocktail.”
Der Raum - 438 Church St, Richmond; Bar Americano, 20 Presgrave Place, Melbourne
Beyond the “great moustache and witty banter” Chris Hysted is a man who makes a helluva cocktail. Lurking in The Attic above Black Pearl, Hystead dares you to try his latest twisted classic: The Death Flip. Made with tequila, Jagemeister, yellow chartreuse, sugar syrup and a whole egg, he describes it as “all the ingredients that no one ever really wants - TOGETHER in one drink.” Are you game?
Last Call: “Lots and lots of champagne.”
Black Pearl / The Attic - 304 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
The austere booths of 1806 belie the cutting-edge cocktails behind the bar. Nick Reed is the man behind the new wave - he’s made drinks with everything from soy milk to infused chorizo. Reed likes getting punters to shake their own drink. “If a customer’s paying $20 for a drink they deserve to be part of the show.”
Last Call: “A Mint Julep that never runs out.”
1806 / The Understudy - 169 Exhibitions Street, Melbourne
Paul Ramsey’s been shaking up a storm at The Galley Room recently, after cutting his teeth mixing Illusion Shakes in “dodgy UK nightclubs”. He’s seen a rise in barrel-aged cocktails this year, and would like to see bartenders “taking themselves less seriously.” Any signature moves? “I’d like to say Blue Steel, but now I’m married I don’t have to”.
Last Call: “I couldn’t choose between a daiquiri (not the frozen kind) or a rye Manhatten: both simple, elegant drinks and damned tasty when made well.
The Galley Room - 508 Flinders Street, Melbourne
Melbourne’s newest cocktail bar is quickly building a reputation for its ‘Golden Era’ cocktails. Bartender Michael Madrusan, who freshly squeezes juice and hand cuts ice for each cocktail, sees customer care as the secret of success. “Mixing a drink is only part of the job, the rest should be about making people feel great.” After one of Madrusan’s concoctions, we guarantee you will be.
Last Call: “An old fashioned. American whiskey, sugar cube and agnostura bitters with a twist of orange and lemon. Beautiful.”
The Everleigh - 150 - 156 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
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