If you’re a fan of great drinks and fun bars, you’ll doubtless know about all-things-oriental cocktail bar Double Happiness. You'll also know Lily Blacks – the joint where every drink can be bettered with house-made bitters and where scandalous booze-comp Iron Bartender goes pear-shaped each month.
Well, Mr Wow’s is a bar by the same dudes, headed up by the bearded bandit himself, Lachlan McAllister.
It’s a slightly different set-up here, in deference to the more relaxed and low-key Smith Street location. Head up the dark staircase to the second floor spot that once housed Collingwood World, and in place of Lily’s palms and art deco banquettes, here you’ll find a pool table, popcorn – popped to order and served with any kind of salt you like from Mexican to chicken – and Melbourne’s first* indoor bocce pitch (*or so McAllister thought until he realised the Taphouse in St Kilda beat him to it).
But don’t take the good times to mean bad drinks. Sure, the cocktail list offers less labour intensive numbers to the classic flips and barrel aged gear they do in the city, but a Crook the Elbow of dark rum, orange bitters, apricot brandy and lemon punches above its weight, and if you want to go off-list with your order, you can. They've got both the booze and know-how to make whatever you fancy. Or get a Coopers and a smoky shot of Ardbeg whisky and schlep it out to the street-facing conservatory for an actual smoke – yes, they've built a pen. They know what’s important to the drinkers of Smith.
Inside, it’s a big room of dark woods, with a few communal tables that make sharing a round of Hawthorn Amber ales or a pitcher of cocktails with some pals look like a good idea. Get a Great Jug Forward of
lychee vodka, lime, mint and ginger beer – it's $30 well spent.
Sit at the long curving bar if you feel like a chat. The parts of McAllister's brain that aren’t inventing drinks are reserved for fun facts and all the YouTube clips you should be watching.
We’re pretty keen to load up with a few of those giant Vietnamese Bia Hanoi beers and try our hand at competitive bocce on Wednesdays, but we would just as happily climb those stairs for cocktail hour before hitting up Huxtable, or Andrew McConnell’s Moon Under Water for dinner.
Wear your high tops or your high heels, all are welcome at this fun-lovin' bar.