Photos: Peter Tarasiuk
Behind its stained glass frontage, Monkey Bar is knick-knack-tastic, tiny and toasty. Gigantic monkey-in-a-barrel beasts overlook the recycled timber bar, vinyl spins on a retro turntable, and well stocked shelves reveal a healthy obsession with some damn fine liquor.
For a bar that seats only about 30 they serve an impressive and affordable range of organic, local and biodynamic beer, wine, and cheese, as well as enough aperitifs and digestifs to make you tipsy just reading the menu.
Most bottles will only set you back a sweet $40 and, having been hand-selected from vineyards or breweries that the owners have personally visited, there are few misguided listings.
To manage the abundant offering, they have a first-in-best-dressed policy for wines by the glass where the first three red and whites requested for the night become the wine on pour. Annoying? Potentially, but the system means that the wine stays fresh, and hey – you might try something you may not usually have ordered.
Aside from the regulars who come to chat with Leanne and Pauline or test a new wine, the general crowd are those who are book-ending a dinner nearby. Some are starting a night of debauchery with a Two-Metre Tall pale ale from Tassie ($8.50), while others come later for a nightcap of say, a biodynamic Beechworth port ($10) and a wedge of organic blue goat’s cheese ($8 per cheese).
The dairy offerings, served on timber boards with a handful of semi-dried grapes and crisp lavosh, may not be life-changing good, but kicking back with your cracker in the cosy bar is.
Relaxed, softly lit, with pot plants aplenty and a courtyard out the back, it’s the perfect place to pick a nook and dream some dreams of your own.