The only thing better than a late night noodle joint is one that can porthole you to a cocktail bar. Hello, Noodle Kingdom Swanston Street.
Located one perilous elevator ride above this wok shop is Goldilocks: a new shadowy maze of a cocktail bar headed up by weird-drink-loving bartender Lou Dare.
You may remember Dare from his days of making sweet-spicy and kinda dirty beetroot relish daiquiris at Amelia Shaw in Brunswick. Here, he’s putting chilli in your whisky Blazer and chicken-infused ginger syrup in your Sazerac. Hold fast, sailors.
These aren’t your typical crowd pleaser drinks and they’re not meant to be. A Ms Red’s Redemption sees a splash of shiraz getting busy with Bacardi, Angostura bitters, white chocolate syrup and fresh red capsicum. Shaken and served straight up it’s sweet at the start and bitter-savoury at the end which you’ll either love or hate. Our table is 50-50 for and against.
A Stallion’s Head is a little more conventional – the shake up of Scotch, apricot brandy, Amaretto and bitters works together with the lemon juice in sweet marzipan-y union. Then again, if it’s all too freaky for you, they’re happy to shake, rattle and set-on-fire any concoction you care to request.
Or how about a beer? The list features a stellar line-up of craft brews by the bottle including Murray’s malty Dark Knight porter and Cool Hops – a local Aussie lager that actually packs some flavour.
In a couple of weeks, you’ll have access to a forest-themed rooftop bar, which is good news for those who like to mingle – or smoke. For now, take some pals along. Inside it’s all chandelier-lit leather booths, with no bar seats, so it’s not well suited to soloists.
Sink into the seats overlooking Swanston Street and order the big board of juicy fried chicken. Your crisp stack of bird comes with chilli sauce and Ranch dressing and is everything a bar snack should be.
They're still working out some kinks. Pulled pork sliders are a little sweet and smooshy for us, and right now, the resident DJ seems to be our good friend iPhone shuffle – which means you’re in for a bizarre set of Herbie Hancock, Billy Holiday, and the odd ho-down. But overall, this is a great new bar. The fairy tale theme is constrained to a few wall-mounted balsa wood bear heads, and the crew clearly want to show you a good time. Better yet, Goldilocks is open daily and stays up late. We’ll drink to that.