Cocktails at 1806

7/02/2010 06:12:00 PM

If you read my Donut French Toast post in any detail, you may be wondering: "What type of place would induce Sarah to drink so much she regrets getting up early to make breakfast?" Ladies and gentlemen, 1806 is that kind of place. Not only did they have a huge selection of cocktails, but a lovely atmosphere and great staff too. Their big leather couches and table service mean you could just sit there all night, quite happily sipping on cocktails until... oops... it's already closing time and you had a bit more than you meant to!

If you are trying to decide on a place to have drinks, may I suggest here?

169 Exhibition St
Melbourne, 3000
(03) 9663-7722

I actually visited twice this past month for 2 birthdays, giving me a good chance to sample a good range of their famous cocktails. (Although the second time I went, I was driving, so only did the mocktail thing).

1806 is the year that the word cocktail was first defined in print, and the bar, 169 Exhibition St Melbourne, is about all things cocktails, especially the history of the amazing creations we sip every day... The cocktail list is as historically correct as possible and follows a time-line over the last two hundered years, capturing the essence of each decade and what people were drinking.

The bar used to be a theatre, once upon a time, and the offices are in the old dressing rooms. Cool, huh? In between being a theatre and 1806, I remember the building was once Club UK (we had the after-party for the David Bowie "A Reality" concert there - aah, memories!). From memory, Club UK was a little skanky. It's a lot more glamorous now...

View of the bar from upstairs

Now, let's have a look at the cocktails. As a disclaimer, I did NOT drink all of these cocktails! I had a couple, and took photos of all the ones my friends were having too.

Clockwise from left:
Espresso Martini
Gin Gimlet
Tom and Jerry

The first 4 cocktails need no explanation, but the Tom & Jerry was like a chocolate-based, very alcoholic warm custard. An interesting idea, but I found it a little rich overall. (Although that may have had something to do the fact I'd just had a 3-course meal at Ezard!)

They do all the classic / cliché cocktails too...
Left to Right:
Blue Lagoon

I love the Blue Lagoon - look how luminescent it is! Must be because of the blue Curacao. I think of the Blue Lagoon as a non-skanky version of a Fruittingle.

Here are some martini-based cocktails:
Clockwise from top left:
French Martini
Classic Martini
Either a Xanadu Fancy or a Passionfruit Sour?
Mitch Martini

I can't stand martinis (for me, gin is only acceptable when it's diluted with tonic), but my martini-loving friends approved of 1806's version. The girls in my group loved the French Martini, and it was the first thing they ordered the 2nd time we went!

As I mentioned, I was driving the 2nd time we visited, so I got them to make me a mocktail. Our waitress just asked what types of fruit I wanted, and said that the bar dudes would make something up for me. I chose raspberry and passionfruit. I'm not sure what else they put in there, but it was wildly delicious and very refreshing.

Left: Piña Colada. Right: Mocktail. Anytime I hear the words "Piña Colada" I think of Homer Simpson singing: "Do you like Pina colonics.. and getting caught in the rain?"

I'm a big fan of 1806. Love the service, love the atmosphere, love the drinks. The only difficulty we found was with organising the bill. Because they only do table service, you don't pay as you go, but your table gets a bill at the end of the night. If you're in a big group, inevitably a few of your friends will leave without paying for their own drinks. Unless of course, I'm organising the night, in which case my bad-ass debt-collecting skills come into play, hehehe.

Apart from that, however, I think it's a fantastic venue and very well run. When Sandra and I popped in to book a spot for her birthday drinks, we were very impressed by how friendly the staff were. They also have one of those "please wait to be seated" signs, (and actually use it!). This enables them to manage the volume of customers coming through, keeping the atmosphere nice, and not over-crowded. Unlike, you know, other places. I found the waitstaff to be very efficient as well, quickly clearing away empty glasses, taking new orders, refilling water glasses and so on.

A great place.

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  1. glad to know your birthday drinks was somehow...redeemed. Yes, will check this place out- hoping for warmer weather though, this week has been f-f-freeezing!

  2. Looks like a nice place. I'm going to mark it down as a place to check out next time. And I'm sure you didn't drink all of the cocktails *shakes head*.



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