From cobblestone laneways to the ornate architecture of Collins Street’s ‘Paris end’, Melbourne is a city that exudes old-fashioned glamour. We’re always up for a good time from a different time with a stack of local bars, cafés and venues radiating the sort of old-school style that would make Don Draper proud. This Old Fashioned Week (November 1 to 10), celebrate all the elegance of yesteryear with these classically cool Melbourne pastimes.
It wouldn’t be Old Fashioned Week without sinking a couple of smooth Old Fashioneds at one of Melbourne’s swishest bars. Try the Lambic Old Fashioned at Whisky and Alement. The bar specialises in the liquid gold (that is, whisky) and is mixing up an Old Fashioned made from Woodford Reserve bourbon whiskey, framboise lambic reduction, sugar syrup, Peychaud’s bitters and absinthe. Why stop at one? Boilermaker House is using wattleseed and Tokay syrup in its Old Fashioned, while Go Go Bar is adding a dash of honey.
The Astor Theatre is the Grace Kelly of Melbourne’s cinema scene. From the leather seats to the elegant gold curtains, the Astor has remained true to its glamorous roots since opening in 1936. The team behind the St Kilda-based theatre take film very seriously and maintain the single-screen cinema as a hub for true movie buffs. The theatre shows everything from recent releases, foreign films and movie marathons to old classics.
The old-school “it” crowd weren’t just born looking as schmick as they did. Looking elegant back then or right now requires work. Luckily, we know somewhere that will have you looking effortlessly cool in no time. Captains of Industry Barbershop is a small, one-room barber at Captains of Industry – a stylish, speakeasy-looking venue that comprises a café-bar, bootmaker, jeweller and barbershop. Barber Samuel Fordyce is all class and applies a simplistic approach to styling so you can look your most dapper with the least amount of effort.
Flapper dresses and pinstripe suits might have gone out of fashion, but jazz never did. Especially not in Melbourne, where jazz reigns supreme at Bird’s Basement, a purpose-built jazz club near Flagstaff Gardens. This club packs some serious cred. Bird’s Basement is a Birdland venue – it’s a sister club to the Birdland jazz club in New York, which was home to the great saxophonist Charlie Parker. Just like in the movies, a night at Bird’s Basement will have you relaxing to a curated selection of jazz musicians while you sit and enjoy a drink in the atmospheric lounge.
Pull up a stool, order an espresso and be transported back to the 1950s at Pellegrini’s. The checkerboard-floored café-bar is, so the rumour goes, the home to the first espresso machine in Melbourne, meaning the unassuming, no-frills café is partly to blame for the city’s coffee obsession. Taking coffee at Pellegrini’s is a refreshingly stripped-back experience. There are no fancy ‘grammable pancakes here – instead you’ll enjoy home-style Italian fare at a communal dining table or on a stool at the bar. Vive la dolce vita!