The Lui Bar

Bars , Cocktail bars Melbourne
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The Lui Bar

The views are jaw-dropping, and so are the cocktail-making smarts

Out to impress? Then swoosh up to the ear-popping 55th floor of the Rialto. No, we're not suggesting you drop a week's pay on dinner at Vue de Monde, but rather take a sharp left towards the bar. Here, among overstuffed lounges and flouncy lampshades, shiny folk sip Martinis as Melbourne twinkles below.

It takes a knockout food-and-drink offering to distract from that view. Fortunately, Lui is more than up to the task, with an Australian-accented selection that is deferential, rather than tongue-in-cheek. Polished staff take orders at the table, and may even prepare your drink there, too. There’s a sense of theatre to the Vodka Pour Over, a slow-drip assembly of Belvedere Vodka and single-estate coffee, which takes the cake as Melbourne’s finest Espresso Martini.

Bar manager Michael Calamante considers himself something of a mad scientist, so behind the bar there’s a stack of high-tech wizardry at play, such as sous vide machines for fat-washing and a Rotovap – the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, this rotary evaporator re-stills premium spirits, for added clarity and purity. It’s all fertile, fun ground for newcomer Jenna Hemsworth (ex Bad Frankie), who’s scooped up Time Out's Hot Talent award, and was a finalist in the World Class competition. Here, among the pricey gadgets and hoshizaki ice, she’s whipping up Leatherwood Old Fashioneds and Velvet Rotor Macadamia Martinis, which mix macadamia fat-washed vodka with vaporised butter.

As you'd expect from Shannon Bennett’s kitchen, the bar snacks are A-grade, though they come with a price. There’s a $15 bowl of nuts and olives, right through to a 30g jar of Beluga caviar at a cool $210. Better value can be found in the chickpea fries, fried chicken and marron brioche rolls. But remember: you’re here for a good time, not a long time, so splash out on a couple of rounds, and then ride the elevator back down to reality.

Venue name: The Lui Bar
Address: The Rialto, Lvl 55
525 Collins St
Opening hours: Mon-Wed 5.30pm-midnight; Thu noon-1am; Fri, Sat noon-3am; Sun noon-midnight
Transport: Nearby stations: Southern Cross
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