Put it down to the bartenders in waistcoats sharp enough to cut a lime or the magician’s library vibe of the low-light, booths and dark wood, but Eau de Vie is one of the few Melbourne bars that has the gravitas to serve you a drink in a hollowed out bull’s horn with a straight face. The Banderillero is tequila, chorizo mescal, pineapple vinegar, Aperol, lime and bitters served in said horn and is an example of the unashamed theatrical flair on show here.
All around you tables will be served drinks that are flaming, smoking or in a glass shoe but, as flamboyant as the drinks are, they are always brilliantly balanced and perfectly made by the well-trained staff. Even the grandiloquent menu is fun, beautifully illustrated, playfully written and sorted with a visual flavour key to help you find what you love; take your time to sort through one of the most original menus around.
You’ll need even more time if you are thinking of taking on the whisky trophy cabinet behind the bar or the even larger collection of rare drops that is hidden in the whisky room behind a fake bookcase. Ask the knowledgeable staff to run you through the options one of the great joys of Eau de Vie is the slick service and the care that is shown in pairing the right drink with the right drinker.
Food sticks to the Prohibition-era theme with classic munchies like freshly shucked oysters, a charcuterie plate with pickles, Dijon mustard and a baguette or salmon cured and Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin caviar. Al Capone would be all over these bar snacks like the US government on his tax returns.
Eau de Vie may not be the newest, the shiniest or the hardest bar to find anymore, but it has aged like many of the finest whiskies in its collection wearing its years as a badge of well-earned pride.