Double Happiness lies discreetly tucked away on Liverpool Street - so discreetly, in fact, that were it not for the bicycle jutting out of the wall over the street in lieu of signage it would be easy to walk by without paying it much mind. It operates as a café (under the name Doppio Happiness - arrrghh) from 7.30am till noon, then in the early evening transforms into one of a pair of Chinese-themed bars. Upstairs lies elegant sister bar New Gold Mountain, but it’s Double Happiness we’re here for. The décor skilfully blends Communist-era kitsch, including Mao statuettes and posters extolling China’s sporting and industrial prowess, with subdued old-world touches like tapestries and three-legged peasant stools.
The drinks menu is short and to the point. Cocktails aside, it lists only two red wines, two whites, two sparklings and four beers, three of which are Asian imports, including 333, which will be familiar to anyone who’s travelled in Vietnam. However, the list is not definitive - the bar staff will make any classic cocktail you care to ask for, should the house specialties not appeal; those are very much worth taking a chance on though. Try the wonderfully fresh Great Leap Forward, with vodka, mint, ginger, and whole lychees, or the Cultural Revolution (sadly off the list now but available on request), a strange but tasty combination of vanilla and black pepper. Double Happiness also offers what the manager claims is “the best espresso Martini in Melbourne”. It’s a bold claim in a town that takes its coffee and its cocktails so seriously, but he may be right. It’s certainly the best this writer has had. Throw in some fine tunes, relaxed ambience and staff who clearly take pride in their handiwork, and you have a recipe for hours of happiness.