Melbourne’s 7 Strangest Themed Bars
Keen for something a little different?
We all need a little novelty in our lives – not just the type you get from a $2 shop or a McDonalds Happy Meal, but the type that involves top hats, rudely named cocktails, themed snacks and a chance to bond with fellow Beyoncé fans on the D-floor. Quality novelty. And Melbourne is rife with it. If it’s been too long between costume parties, or you just need a little bit of quirk in your life explore one of these bars after dark and embrace your inner kitsch.
#1 Madame Brussels
Once a destination for ladies of the night and their gentleman, this old school brothel has been transformed into a pastel-coloured bar reminiscent of I Dream Of Jeannie with picnic tables, fake grass and staff wearing ’60s-styled tennis gear. Sample one of Madame Brussels‘ sweet summery cocktails, with playful references to their madams. “The Ginge Minge,” “Silky Jocks” or “Love Juice” all go down a little too easily.
In the rooftop area you can lounge under the stars and city lights and marvel at the cherry blossom trees. It’s always Sunday arvo here – music is fun and upbeat but won’t interrupt your conversations. Table service means your cocktail glass will never run dry and snacks like hummus, cheese and cupcakes will satisfy those with an appetite.
#2 Berlin Bar
Hidden off China Town, in a cobblestone alleyway, the divides of the Berlin Wall still remain at Berlin Bar. On arrival you will ring a bell and a ruffled staff member will allocate your party to East or West Germany. No funny business, you will not get a choice in the matter – this is Berlin after all. But don’t worry, you will get a choice in a large selection of German beers and “illegal” cocktails smuggled in from neighbouring countries like “Angela Merkel” and “Checkpoint Charlie”.
If you’re declared an Easterner, you’ll be lavished in white leather couches, hanging chandeliers and fine quality art of the couture. For Westerners, expect bunkers and to rough it out on rustic style crates with a back drop of cargo nets draping the ceiling. Army meets jazz music adds to a vibe of danger.
Named after the year the word ‘cocktail’ was first used, 1806 is all class with plush leather couches, decor and music that echoes the swing era – you almost expect flappers to emerge at any moment. Bartenders don braces and bow-ties and on your arrival will happily present a book (not a menu) of their cocktail selection. Good luck choosing, this is a place that really knows its alcohol and serves it with a good dose of history.
The favourite drink of choice for many is the “Zombie”, a concoction of three Bacardis, pineapple, lemon, lime and passionfruit served in a Tiki cup. It’s popular for light fingers too – you will need to pay $20 for the cup, refunded on its safe return. For those who want even more culture, you can order quality cheeses with matching whiskeys, or if you’d like to take the novelty to the next level attend one of their irregular murder mystery nights.
#4 Croft Institute
This is what happens when mad scientists become bar owners. Past a dumpster in an alleyway off the hub of Chinatown, the Croft Institute ‘lab’ is spread over two levels and will happily reunite you with your Goosebumps-inspired childhood nightmares of hospitals and insane asylums. Dim lights hang from the ceiling and shine through science apparatuses and paraphernalia that will make you miss science class.
Sample the wares in a syringe or beaker, or dance along like a zombie to the house DJ spinning slow electro tracks – just don’t expect any Britney or MJ here. If you get a little sleepy, take a nap in the hospital bed near the loos. It’s best to get to the Croft before 10pm otherwise you’ll be hit with a pricey door fee – mad scientists be cruel.
#5 Naked For Satan
Despite the name, pants are not optional at this Barcelona-like bar where house-infused vodka and pintxos (like tapas) are all the rage. The artwork of choice at Naked For Satan is brassy old distillation equipment and vodka centrepieces as well as pastings of naked folk on the walls. There’s a warm glow and plenty of yummy $2 pintxos to make your belly happy – meatballs, grilled prawn skewers, fried cheese and walnut croquettes and more. There’s even pintxos desserts for the sugar addicts. The upstairs rooftop bar Naked In The Sky is extremely popular in summer and for good reason – it has an amazing view over Fitzroy. There are also extremely palatable dinner options available for those looking for something bigger than the bite-size type.
#6 29th Apartment
Decked out like a New York apartment owned by ‘Katishe’ – an artist/working girl – this relaxed St Kilda bar is a popular drinking hole and serves as a home away from home. No details have been left out of the 29th Apartment’s back story, with Katishe and her life is spread across an urban lounge room, kitchen and bathroom with contemporary art on the walls adding to the Andy Warhol vibe.
Menus are on the back of DVD covers and a huge variety of board games live in the fridge – a pleasing feature for those looking for some quality Connect Four time. Food is American themed, sticky wings are a hit as well as the $1 pizza nights on Friday. Similar to house parties, the atmosphere starts off fairly relaxed and civil but gets progressively louder and more dance-floor focused into the night.
LuWow is a slice of tropical paradise (and fabulous tiki kitsch) in the heart of Fitzroy. But it’s less book-reading, feel-the-sand-beneath-your-toes-paradise, more loud, dance-your-arse-off-tropical-mania-paradise. Hawaiian shirts and floral maxis will complement LuWow‘s surrounds of bamboo booths, thatched roofed huts, plastic skulls and mix of reggae funk tunes.
(Lead image: LuWow)