This bar is achingly cool. By the end of my visit I wanted the barman to be my new best mate, except I’m probably not cool enough. You aren’t going to just stumble across this place, you have to go and seek it out. But it’s worth it, trust me.
Bar Americano is tucked away down a little lane in Melbourne’s CBD. Even the walk up to it is cool, with a graffiti covered wall and the grate shutter pulled halfway across, adding to its secret allure and speakeasy feel.
Walk up the few steps into the dimly lit room, and take your pic whether to lean against the bar and watch the talented bar staff at work, or against the narrow counter along the other side. It’s standing room only, and little standing room at that. This place is tiny. Really tiny, fitting about 10 people. Luckily we got there early enough to be part of that 10, passing through on our way to dinner. And that is what this bar is perfect for. You may not want to stay there for hours (your feet might get tired and the deliciously potent cocktails might floor you after too many) but you will definitely want to try 2 or 3 of their perfectly crafted drinks and be on your way.
Bar Americano takes its cocktail making very seriously. They use influential cocktail tomes from the early 1920s, Cocktails and How to Mix Them and Recipes for Mixed Drinks as inspiration, and internationally acclaimed head barman Hayden Lambert and team create them perfectly. It’s a short menu (or just ask them to concoct you something) with cues from the prohibition era and Italian aperitivo culture; expect the likes of negroni, Americano (of course) and the Robert Burns cocktail. Mostly consisting of hard liquor, these are PROPER drinks. I asked them to make me something slightly softer than a Negroni and told them I love gin, and they brought me back a pretty pink drink called a Jasmine. Consisting of gin, Campari, Cointreau and lemon juice, do not to be deceived by the pretty pink, this drink packs a punch. It was delicious, perfectly balanced across bitter and sweet. Not great for review purposes, but I didn’t get round to trying anything else, I just had 3 of these. My friends however had negronis and gin martinis and assured me that they were wonderful too.
If you’re a cocktail nerd, you will love this place, the barmen will happily be quizzed about their craft and take great pride in doing so. Actually you will love this place regardless. If you appreciate great drinks, and fancy a quick pit stop away from the bustle of the city, then hunt this little gem out, and step a little bit back in time to some old American glamour with a relaxed vibe, friendly & knowledgable staff and a slightly quirky twist.
Only a few simple rules here, which seem fair enough; ‘don’t spit’, and ‘no shoes, no service’. Oh and no photos, but I did, sorry. I asked and they agreed to momentarily look the other way. Nice chaps.
Bar Americano, 20 Presgrave Place, Melbourne, Australia