Bodega Underground

Restaurants, Mexican Melbourne
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This basement-level mezcal bar promises loose and lively late-night drinking

Tequila’s smoky, sultry cousin, mezcal, is having a moment. To acquaint yourself with the seductive agave liquor, head to the Parliament end of Little Bourke Street and follow the bordello-esque red glow at the base of the Crossley Hotel. Here you’ll find Bodega Underground, a gritty-cool basement bar that riffs of the spirits and street foods of Mexico.

Straight up, order a shot of mezcal and a shot of verdita, a punchy blend of pineapple, jalapeno, coriander and lime. The mezcal comes in a tiny ceramic teacup, which co-owner Jules Downing sourced on a research trip to Mexico. Take a sip of the mezcal, followed by a sip of the spicy, cleansing verdita. And repeat. Savouring, rather than shotting, is the order of the day.

Not that Jules and co-owner Geoff Machirus will look askance if you do knock back a few shots. The boys are duly proud that they’ve created Melbourne’s first mezcaleria and newest hospitality hang, complete with a 3am licence seven days a week. Where else can you get a tinnie of Tecate and a serve of tacos at 2am?

They’ve nailed the anything-goes dive-bar brief with that moody red neon lighting, clusters of wax-dribbled candles, rough-hewn timber tables, and walls covered in hundreds of vintage Mexican movie posters. It may be brand new, but it feels lived in, rather than contrived.

Along with top-shelf mezcal, there’s tequila, naturally, and a neat line of beers, including boutique locals and smashable Mexicans. The  ‘Refrescas’ cocktails come with a savoury edge, such as the Celery Drank of tequila, celery, lemon and agave, which gets its kick from green chilli. There’s a classic Tommy’s Margarita in the mix, too, along with a mezcal-spike Negroni with a gentle lick of smoke.

Perhaps given the divey, good-times nature of the venue, the wine list is surprisingly well endowed, too, with a Hugel Pinot Blanc from Alsace and Two Paddocks Pinot Noir on the pour.

And they’re winning on the snack front, too, in the coming months the kitchen will be pumping out tacos until 3am every day of the week. You’ll need them if you’re going to make it until closing time.

By: Sarah Gamboni

Posted:

Venue name: Bodega Underground
Contact:
Address: Basement, 51 Lt Bourke St
Melbourne
3000
Opening hours: Daily 5pm-3am
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