Time Out says
Climb up the stairs towards this moody bar that specialises in novel cocktails
Keen botanists will already know about bouvardia. They're a type of flower native to Mexico and Central America, commonly grown as ornamental plants. Bouvardia are chosen for their scent and their beauty – and if it's beauty you're after, cocktail bar Bouvardia has it in spades.
Bouvardia is an elegant addition to Melbourne's bar scene, perfect for a first date or late-night deep and meaningful. First, however, you need to get there. Its blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Bourke Street entrance is right next to Nana Mookata Thai, and you'll need to climb a couple flights of stairs to find this low-lit cocktail hideaway.
The venue is shaped like a long box: to the left are couches and bigger tables; to the right is the green marble bar and one long velvet pink banquette that runs the length of the room. The walls are dark earthy green and are contrasted with more pink and gold accents: covetable pink water jugs from Dinosaur Designs and small table lights that look like cute gold mushrooms. Even the majority of the cocktails on the menu fall into the colour scheme.
Cocktails are certainly Bouvardia’s MO. The leather-clad menu has encyclopaedic information about each drink, with everything from the drink’s volume and ABV to allergens (like fructose or lactose) alongside the ingredients. You won’t find any of the “classic” cocktails on this list (though you can order them, and they will be spectacular). Instead, there are ten different drinks, mostly fruit-forward but all smartly put together by venue manager Dom Garreffa, formerly of Attica.
The Major Tom features lacto-fermented passionfruit, Marionette Blue Curacao and amazake cream, a fermented Japanese rice drink. The B.A.N.A.N.A.S. cocktail has Starward Whisky, Plantation Rum, coconut and banana ester (a chemical compound called isoamyl acetate that tastes like bananas – it’s found in those devilishly sweet banana lollies). Another drink to try is the carbonated All Parts of the Celery cocktail, which, you guessed it, features celery stem, stalk and leaves blended with a shot of sake.
The team behind Bouvardia (the Coupette Group, who also own the Woods cocktail bar in Windsor) have said this bar isn’t about the regular cocktail bar experience. While it may be inspired by cocktail bars in New York and London, there’s definitely an updated attitude. For example, the bar has a good selection of no-alcohol cocktails for the increasing number of Melburnians who are skipping booze. There's also a ‘local first’ approach to sourcing, with the bar stocking only a small range of booze and booze-adjacent products. And the addition of allergens for each cocktail is a boon for those with allergies and intolerances.
Level 2/169 Bourke Street
|Opening hours:||Tue-Wed 5pm-midnight; Thu-Sat 5pm-1am|