Old-world opulence is writ large across this exceptional speakeasy, which has earned the title of Time Out's 2016 Bar of the Year
Like all good underground operations, EDV takes some seeking. It’s hidden down Malthouse Lane behind a signage-free door that you’d easily mistake for a service entrance. Once you’ve made it through the clandestine entrance, you’ll be greeted by waistcoated staff and buoyant, boisterous jazz tunes. There's the incomparable sense of bonhomie among the drinkers within, as though everyone had stumbled into an exclusive, exotic club.
But all of this energy and joie de vivre would be for naught if the drinks weren't up to scratch. In fact, the cocktails and whisky selection are among the country’s best – and although there has been a changing of the guard of late, the service hasn’t skipped a beat. Slip into the clubby, handsome whisky lounge for your choice of 200 single malts, or secure a seat at the bar for a slice of the mixing, shaking and stirring action. Dapper, suited staff hand-cut ice for a sultry EDV Old Fashioned, stirred with Zacapa Rum, Pedro Ximénez, muscovado sugar and spice, heady with warm caramel and chocolate notes. Or choose your own Martini adventure in the Noble Experiment: your selection of a dozen vodkas and gins, plus rinses, bitters and garnishes, served in a flurry of liquid nitrogen. Dirty it up with a slosh of olive brine, dry it out with a whisper of bitters, or funk it up with anchovy-stuffed olives.
They’re also fans of tableside theatrics, here, so the absinthe for your No Sleep Till Brooklyn could be ignited right beside you, or your Smoky Rob Roy could come with a smoking woodchip – tricks that could feel gimmicky if they weren’t handled so well. The food menu is suitably luxe, including a croque monsieur of Champagne ham, Gruyère and truffle bechamel on buttery brioche, and a lusty duck liver parfait to smear over salt-and-vinegar crisps. Whisky and cheese nights and cocktail degustations ensure EDV remains at the top of the Melbourne bar game.
Indeed, for us, it stands right at the very top, as the deserving winner of our 2016 Bar of the Year award.