Buongiorno, bonjour and “g’day”! (don't you like how they're all the same thing? ~ who knew Australian vernacular was so cosmopolitan???).

Also, "a good day to you, sir/maam" for our American pals, "Ni Hao" to China, and "Здравствуй" to our Russian comrades, "etcetera etcetera and so forth"... (for Yul Brynner).

It’s your old pal Kit (Christof) Fennessy here. I've been writing this blog with your help for ten years, and there's over a hundred and fifty recipes, restaurant reviews of Australia and around the world, and general gourmet articles in these pages for you to fritter away your idle hours on.

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Now, what's on the bill of fare today?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Everleigh

150-156 Gertrude St, Level 1
Fitzroy VIC 3065
+61 3 9416 2229

Alright, alright, I know what you're thinking. "This guy's only going out to places that are a hop, skip and a step from where he works." Possibly, but I actually have been supposed to be writing reviews on the Carlton Wine Room, an upcoming Italian food festival at the Exhibition Buildings called la Dolce Italia, NOT TO MENTION our new relationship with Les Toques Blanches, the Executive Chefs Society of Victoria who we recently did a website for in exchange for food (well, we are working in a "patchwork economy", as our Julia says).

But somehow my heart just hasn't been in it. I haven't been inspired to put quill to parchment, let alone RSI afflicted finger stumps to keyboard.

But last night something changed all that. I went to try the new cocktail bar up the road, admittedly with a pretty big chip on my shoulder. "The best bar in Melbourne, as judged by the Age Good Bar Guide? Bah! Fifth best bar in the world, as per the some English newspaper? Humbug! I bet it's full of ostentatious wankers with beards, buns and fixy bicycles."

Well, the generation gap may be there, but I am going to have to stop being so flippin' ageist, because it really is fantastic. Now read on...
The Everleigh is an extension of a bar concept developed in Manhattan called Milk and Honey. The owner of that has helped finance this one, and two of his old bartenders have come out here as co-investors to make a go of it. Michael from Newcastle, and someone else I guess (all of this was imparted to me by a braces wearing maitre d' named Alistair who is from Yorkshire and has THE best people skills in a bartender I have ever seen).

The bar itself is upstairs at the old Dante's, but it is a place transformed. The old function space has been converted into a white walled gallery, but the bar? Gosh.

Styled on a Depression era speakeasy - an American concept of what France might be like – it boasts chandeliers, a beautiful beaten metal bar, leather booths, timber floors and a rabbit with antlers. Thirties jazz played constantly and groovily over the dark interior, as I looked at the various old fans, bar mounted juice squeezers and other olde worlde paraphenalia. They have a huge glass fronted bookcase filled with olden day cocktail recipes books, and behind the bar on either side of a gold framed mirror glass bottles abound. On one side there are three shelves of American whiskies: scotch, sour mash and bourbon.

All cocktails are the same price: $19. This makes choosing easy, and when you pay for your one drink, it's feels painless and yet magnanimous to say "keep the change".

There's not many cocktails per se on the menu, but the staff read you like the "share and enjoy" machine from Sirius Cybernetics, and make you what you really need: which is almost, but not exactly, the exact opposite of tea.

'So, what kind of cocktails do you like?'
'Well I am an alcoholic... '
'That's a good thing.' A raised eyebrow while waiting...
'... so pretty much anything. I like martinis.'
'How about Manhattans?'
'I don't know if I've had one of those. I like my drinks dry.'
'I think you'd better have a Manhattan, but I'll get you a Brooklyn' – which, it transpires, is a twist using dry vermouth, picon, cherry liqueur and a maraschino cherry.

They use "one block" of ice to mix their drinks and prevent aeration, and when it was delivered in a little glass, it was beatuiful, freezing cold, tasty and just what a cocktail should be: like hard drugs. In some ways it was like someone bringing you a line of coke or a syringe on a silver tray, and it packed a wallop without making you messy. Excellent. No wonder the Prohibition Movement and wowserism got a toe hold in the States with offerings like this.

Where theatrics meets hospitality, going to the Everleigh is like a trip to a theme park where spirits are king and no, you cannot buy a chicken parma (I don't even know if they have bar snacks, beer or wine, but who cares?). Do one thing well, m'dear, and the world is yours.

Not for every day, but if you're on a date and hoping to seal the deal, take them there and tip two or three drinks in them and you're home. I give it seven and a half tentacles out of eight!