The Palm Royale
Time Out says
A tropical temple is Richmond’s latest cocktail haven
Have you been to the tiki bar in a fridge in a sandwich shop in Windsor? You should go. Sah Melbourne. But if crossing the river is a bit too much for you, the crew from Jungle Boy has built the northern side of the Yarra a tropical temple of its own. The Palm Royale occupies the space most recently known as Bar Economico in Richmond, and feels like a blend of Cuba and Tom Cruise Tiki.
It’s kitted out in blonde wood and incredible wallpaper with tropical birds and pastel greenery that would make Elvis’s Blue Hawaii outfit jealous. Fake palm trees act as table legs and grow onwards to the ceiling with couples sitting under them silhouetted by droplights beneath the plastic foliage. Behind the bar, 'Hawaiian shirt' is both the uniform and the attitude, and a mix of easy listening bossa nova beats, Cuban jazz and Latin dance music fills the airwaves.
The cocktail list is heavy on the rum but also features a couple of ultra-classic gin drinks for the punch-averse. You won't find any vodka on this list, but they’ll gladly serve you one with soda and lime. There's a balance between classic Cuban rum cocktails like the El Presidente (basically a rum Manhattan); 1940s tiki style punches like the Don the Beachcomber and Fog Cutter; and 1970s tropical dessert drinks like a Salted Piña Colada made with a scoop of ice cream for the silky texture and coconut syrup fo- that rich SPF 30+ flavour we all love. All drinks come garnished to the sky with pineapple wedges, cherries and paper umbrellas.
On tap you’ll find Jamaican lager Red Stripe, a rare treat generally found only in the bottle, as well as Negronis and a coconut-infused Cuba Libre that’s easily the best rum and coke in town. For now you can snack on corn chips with fresh and zesty salsa verde, but the still-under-construction kitchen will soon be cranking out Cubans, Reubens, jerk chicken and loaded fries.
While Palm Royale is a whole mess of tropical fun, there are a few rough edges yet to be smoothed. Drinks are a little sloppy, the bar a little disorganised, and the banter from the ‘tenders not quite as flamboyant as the shirts they wear. Batching complex cocktails and prepping garnishes ahead of time would go a long way to getting the drinks out quicker, and for $20 we wouldn’t mind a real cherry instead of the fluoro maraschino kind.
If this bar wants to go full Tom Cruise 1980s, they’ll need to lift the energy to match, or if classic quality is the goal, some refinement would be welcome. Once the Palm Royale finds its groove, we’ll have another tropical getaway to add to our late night rotation.