Birthday Drinks at Der Raum

5/03/2010 11:34:00 PM

I like to celebrate my birthday in style. I also like to spread the celebrations out over a few days, a "birth-week", if you will. First up was birthday drinks at Der Raum! You can see above that we brought a giant Mrs Fields' birthday cookie cake - macadamia and milk chocolate. Drool! I had high hopes that I'd get a photo of me holding the cookie up and eating it, but it was super-soft, and impossible to get up in one piece.

I initially wanted to have my drinks at Berlin Bar, but when we visited back in March, we weren't too impressed. Der Raum, on the other hand, has a reputation for absolutely killer cocktails, and a huge selection of German beers on tap. Sold!

Der Raum
438 Church St
Richmond VIC 3121
(03) 9428-0055

Prior to my birthday, I happened to be working in an office close to Der Raum. So one evening after work, I had a little wander down, chatted to the barmen and booked a small area for my friends and I. The staff were friendly and helpful.

(For those of you who are paying attention, this means I have moved house, moved offices AND had my birthday all in the same month. It's been busy!)

It's not just decoration, lots of those bottles are actually used!

Unfortunately, on the actual night we went, the bar was full of dickheads (pardon my French), which put a dampener on an otherwise fun night. For instance, just after we got there and sat down, a random lady sat down in our area and invited her friends to sit down with her. When we told her politely, "Sorry we've actually booked these seats", one of her friends laughed in our faces, mocking us and saying, "those girls need a drink!" Right in front of us! How rude is that?

That was just one example, but there was also a lot of general feralness - people hassling my friends, or people who'd push and shove at the (super-crowded) bar and shout at the staff so they'd get served first. YURGH.

Later on in the evening we had a guy who actually sat ON our table. He'd turn around every 10 minutes or so and see our giant cookie. Then he'd ask, "Is that a cake?... It's a cookie? Does it have coke in it? Can I snort your cookie?" We just ignored him until he changed his question to: "Does your cookie have cock in it?"


I was so uncomfortable by this stage that I just wanted to leave, but luckily one of my friends told a barman about the feral guy, and he was escorted outside. Apparently after he got outside he kept harassing the barman, saying things like, "you don't know how to run a bar, I'm going to f***ing throw chairs through your f***ing windows", etc. Who even does that? Having a few drinks is no excuse for being an A-hole.

I spent quite a bit of time profusely apologising to my friends, and a few of them said, "it's Richmond, what did you expect?" Huh? Is that even a thing? I always thought Richmond was full of young professionals, and the few people I do know who live in the area are super-nice! Plus, I'd been working in the area for the past 3 months and never had a problem. But, I guess that 9am on a Monday morning is different from 11pm on a Saturday night.

So, enough about the negative aspects, let's get on to the fabulous cocktails! It took about 20 minutes to get each round of drinks, which at first was a little frustrating, but totally makes sense when you realise just how much effort goes into each cocktail. For the majority of the evening, the place was absolutely packed, and the crowd waiting at the bar was 4 deep. It takes a little more time than expected, but I love the fact that the quality of the cocktails was not compromised, despite the volume of customers.

For some reason the menus are chained to the bar, so I didn't really get a chance to read it, especially with the big crowd. I mainly just stayed in the one spot while my friends went up to buy the drinks, hehe. Aah, the benefits of being the birthday girl!

The descriptions below in italics are ones I got from the website. The other descriptions are ones I figured out myself, so may not be entirely accurate.

Zombie (Don's style)
A rum runner's bounty of fine hooch. Fresh tropical fruits. Flaming caramelized passionfruit.
The 1930's creation of Ernest Raymond Beaumont-Gantt at the rum mecca bar, Don the Beachcomber. It remains one of the kings of the Tiki movement.

Look at the flame on that cocktail. It was lit in a passionfruit half.

BOOM! I like to think of this cocktail as a Flaming Moe.

My friend An ordered the Zombie, and I did have a sip, but I can't actually remember what it tasted like. It seemed very popular though, and we saw a lot of them being flamed and drunk throughout the night.

Velvet Fog
Gin. Creme de Violette. Champagne. Citrus. Floral Voilette Fog.
As smooth as jazz legend, Mel Tome (aka the Velvet Fog), inspired by the flavours of the rare Blue Moon cocktail of 1917 while utilising our latest "flavour fog" technique.

I love champagne, I love cocktails, so the Velvet Fog was an obvious choice. The creme de violette makes me think that our dear Thanh would like it too! The violet flavour wasn't overwhelming, and balanced nicely against the citrus. The way they make this cocktail is very theatrical and impressive too, pouring liquid nitrogen (?) from a big wine carafe into the champagne glass.

Bees Knees
Honey Rock Gin. Fresh Pressed Lemon. Nitro Honey Nest.
A Prohibition favourite but something of a bastard son with its heritage forever lost.

We were instructed to pour the liquid into the glass, give it a stir and wait a while before drinking it. The glass looked fabulous too, with the smoky vapour rising as the liquid was poured over. I drink honey-and-lemon when I have a sore throat, but I think it's safe to say the gin in the Bees Knees negates their healing properties.

Death In The Afternoon
Spiced Absinthe. Champagne. Rosemary. Olive Oil stain.
A hit of Papa Hemingway's during his Paris days. Like the man, hard in appearance but delicate under the

This wasn't technically my drink, I just reappropriated it from my friend Dion who found it too strong. It had a pronounced aniseed flavour, which I now know was absinthe! The big ice ball gives an interesting numbing effect as you sip, and there are rosemary leaves in the ball which are slowly released as the ball melts.

Long Island Iced Tea

No description on the website, but from my experience holidaying in Penang, I know that a Long Island Iced Tea is generally all the white spirits, topped with lemon and coke. It's so cute that such a potent drink is served in such an innocuous cup!

Pink Lady
Tanqueray. Laird's Bonded Applejack. Pressed Lemon. Grenadine.
A model of refinement and decorum, as taken from the Savoy Cocktail Book, 1930.

A perfect, easy-to-drink, girly cocktail.

I can't remember what the next one is. I believe it was called a Gin Fizz, but I can't be sure.

Each of those mint leaves was individually selected and placed in that glass.

Latin Threesome

Sagatiba Pura Cachaca. Pisco Control. Havana Club Anejo Reserva. Rich pressed tropical fruit.
A celebration of the 3 great national spirits of Brazil, Chile and Cuba. Selected as Gourmet Traveller's and Liquid Magazines editor's choice cocktail.

Jamaican Black Strap

Myer's Jamaican Rum. Tart Pomegranate. Sultanas. Smooth Ginger Beer.
A modern twist on the Rum "Black Strap" of the 1920's.

Su said it tasted like "a mojito without the mint", and we all thought the presentation of this one was especially novel.

Despite the unfortunate crowd, we still had a good night, and I definitely think that Der Raum is one of Melbourne's best cocktail bars, with amazingly crafted drinks. It's certainly the most innovative cocktail bar that I've been to. They sometimes hold events, like degustations and tastings, which would be well worth attending. I would recommend visiting on a quieter evening - perhaps a weeknight, or for after-work drinks on a Friday before it gets too crowded and you're jostling with a huge crowd, many of whom just want to order bottles of Beck's. (Such a waste!) That way you'd be able to sit down, have a chat with the bartenders, get an insight into the cocktails, and really appreciate the effort and thought that goes into them.

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  1. Some very cool looking cocktails. I like the one in a paper bag. It looks like you have smuggled a tallie somewhere it isnt allowed. The ocky strap bottle invention seems like something you would find in a garage. Cool!

  2. You know why the place was full of dickheads??
    Cos it was a Saturday night during footy season. Ergh. I lived in Richmond for about 5 years and anywhere along Swan St would be chockers after the footy filled with drunken yobbos that had been slamming back the cans since 2pm.
    I LOVE Richmond but I HATED the footy crowds.
    Der Raum should maybe be a bit more discrimate with their clientele on such evenings.

  3. Happy birthday!! Sorry to hear there were so many annoying people in the crowd...can be a total dampener. Those cocktails look utterly stunning, love the sound of the Bees Knees. Definitely look worth the wait.

  4. Diggin the decor, but the crowds....hmmm. Geeze, yes- you have been busy. Is it me or were alot of people moving places the past month? It seems to be topic of many conversations. Hope you found a good place :)

    The drinks look amazing by the way. Not sure if I'd have the patience for the ball to melt though...LOL

  5. Happy Birthday! I'm all full up on my birthday week as well, and it doesn't end till Sunday! I love your gifts by the way, it's a shame I don't have a cool brother working in Japan to send me the most fabulous cookbooks...

  6. Thanks everybody!

    @Esz - LOL I totally didn't think about the footy. Footy is so far from my radar I never know when it's on... until grand final weekend rolls around.

    The cocktails were fabulous however, so I'd definitely like to go back on a quieter night. :)

    xox Sarah

  7. Oh my gosh! Why are people such turds?! At least the cocktails look and sound amazing.

    I'm also a big fan of the birth-week!



My email address is sarahcooks [at] hotmail [dot] com.