There are no pirates to be found in this spice trade-inspired saloon, which brings much-needed island holiday vibes to a dry part of town
It’s less about eye patches and Johnny Depp and more about rum and Jamaican jerk chicken at this Caribbean-inspired bar. Port of Call – the new venture from some of the wise-heads behind Richmond’s ode to New Orleans, The Collection – looks to the spice trade between Europe and the Caribbean from centuries past, and the exchange of flavours and techniques that now define eating and drinking across the region.
Naturally, rum is the go here – and they have a staggering selection, drawn from across the Caribbean and into South America. But this is no theme bar, and there are no skull-and-crossbones; the interior is a warm collection of exposed brick, re-purposed wood and potted greenery, with leather benches to sink into as you choose where to start with the cocktail list. Rum is enjoying a resurgence in bars across Melbourne right now, and the cocktails here really respect the base product; not so complex or ingredient-heavy as to overwhelm the rum at their core.
Travel across the Caribbean through their rum punches; The Trinidad features Angostura 5, crème de cacao and lime juice, spiced up with the addition of a scorpion chilli. It's pristine-beach-at-sunset stuff, even in the middle of a Melbourne winter. In need of something a bit fierier? Curl up in the courtyard and let hot buttered rum warm your hands and belly.
Or, if rum isn’t your thing, then their signature cocktail The East India Co. features West Winds Gin, lemon juice, vanilla syrup and egg whites made savoury with the addition of a hint of cardamom. It’s the spice trade in a glass. They also offer a mostly local wine and beer selection, burnished by a few quality drops from Europe and of course, Jamaica’s favourite beer, Red Stripe.
And the smokiness coming from the kitchen? That’s Jamaican jerk chicken available in quarters, halves or the whole bird, which could feed the crew of a clipper with its juicy, spicy goodness. Or, travel to Puerto Rico with the subtle spice of their empanadas. Banish memories of the dreaded Blue Curaçao liqueur with the dish that we should all associate with the tiny island; Keshi Yena: a sizzling skillet of chicken, raisins, capers and lemon, baked with cheese.
With ska on the stereo and a rustic, shanty-town vibe, Port of Call is a friendly oasis in an otherwise fairly barren bar scene by the Queen Victoria Markets.
|Venue name:||Port of Call (closed)|
213 Franklin St
|Opening hours:||Tue-Thu 4pm-1am; Fri, Sat noon-3am; Sun noon-1am|