Maybe its the mysterious laneway bars, hidden watering holes and quirky cafes that appeals to me and my desires to explore. Everywhere you turn you are greeted with a new experience and sight, whether its a vintage record store or a fake-grass decked cafe, Melbourne is overwhelming on the senses. However my favourite part of Melbourne must be the small boutique bars hidden among the urban landscape. For non-Melbournites, most of the hidden and concealed bars/eateries are only discoverable via word of mouth or by reading posts from excited bloggers detailing their evening's ecstasies. There is a huge sense of achievement when visiting these venues, you almost feel part of a sneaky little club of people, which have been capable of unraveling the cities hidden gems.
However this is not an easy task. There are no signs or security guards identifying your landmark, which can be worrying as the address of your destination will more then likely direct you down a dark and deserted laneway. On closer inspection, you will notice that the dim street is lined with large doors, some open, with street numbers above them. The number we were searching for even had a bike suspended above it.
After stepping through an unfamiliar alley way door, it is expected that you will begin to question the sensibility of your actions. In Sydney if I had entered a room lit with red lights, featuring a staircase ascending to an unknown location, I would of known I was probably in Kings Cross and should probably get the hell out of there. But when in Melbourne, curiosity gets the better of you.
Up those stairs was my hoped for destination of New Gold Mountain, a quirky Asian-retro themed oasis, featuring a refreshingly unique cocktail list, which was as impressive as its furnishings.The smooth ambient music perfectly complimented the intimate atmosphere, which was created through dim overhead lighting juxtaposed with patches of glistering fluorescent speckles. The decor was green and organic, featuring dark sleek furniture with an Asian flair, dangling origami and psychedelic wood inspired walls.
I ordered the Calva Dose which contained calvados, lime, house made grenadine and absinthe. Smooth and refreshing with strong sour notes fighting against a softer sweetness. Most of all it was unlike any cocktail I had ever come across before, and I do love trying new things.
William was brave and ordered the 'Carter beats the Devil,' which contained tequila, mezcal, agave nectar, lime, chili tincture garnished with a pickled Serrano chili. I don't know how but the flavours actually worked! It was zesty and extremely spicy and left my lips tingling, but in a good way.
Another bar we visited was Red Hummingbird. This bar was a little easier to find as a large red birdcage hangs over the small narrow doorway, signifying you are in the right place and not at a brothel.
The venue was very popular and so packed full of young lively night owls, that we could not find a seat. However this was fine by me as I would rather hang by the encyclopedia collection anyway. We ordered the signature cocktail, 'the Red Hummingbird,' which as a female and lover of sweet things I enjoyed immensely. Although I think they might of forgotten to include the alcohol...
I would highly recommend both of these bars if you are ever in Melbourne. At least now you can be assured that the red lightened stairwell will (most probably) not lead you into a whore house.
New Mountain Gold is located at 21 Liverpool St Melbourne VIC 3000
The Red Hummingbird is located at 246 Russell St Melbourne VIC 3000