Warmly lit bar full of guests and a bartender.
Photograph: Supplied

Time Out Food & Drink Awards 2023: Bar of the Year

Slick, sexy and sophisticated: Peter Gunn's March brings bangin' bevs, top-notch snacks and uber-cool vibes to Collingwood


A wine bar, cocktail bar and late-night diner all in one, March isn’t easy to pin down. Effortlessly, it shapeshifts into whatever you’re in the mood for, a truly modern venue without airs and graces and emboldened by its tight curation of top-shelf offerings. But there’s no denying this shiny Collingwood gem is damn impressive, which is why it has won our award for Time Out’s 2023 Bar of the Year. Cheers!

A post-lockdown project from Peter Gunn, the visionary behind neighbouring fine diner Ides, we ventured through this bar’s doors expecting high levels of sophistication and great drinks. But there were a few extra surprises along the way that really served to give March the X factor: a sleek and comfortable cocoon-like space, a vibrant and funky energy elevated by music and contemporary art (more reminiscent of tapas joints and izakayas than stuffy cocktail bars), and a pickled onion-spiked Martini made from Animus’ award-winning Arboretum gin – one of our most delicious cocktails of the year. 

Our experience was as fun and frivolous as a dinner party at a friend’s house – a refreshing departure from the 'look-what-we-can-do' theatrics of other popular cocktail bars these days. While the friendly bar team got down to business in their shaking and stirring, we chatted to our neighbours about how great the food was as the smattering of seats around the bar filled up fast. What we’d anticipated to be a quick and discreet taste test of a few drinks and snacks evolved into a full-blown night out on the town – something only a truly great bar can inspire. 

From fruity apricot and lime-infused concoctions to exceptionally crafted whisky Highballs, the cocktails stood up to the wine list so much so that March was also one of our Best Cocktail Bar nominees for 2023. But the European and Victorian varietals on offer also kept us on our toes, and we indulged in velvety Tassie pinots, new-world Yarra Valley chardonnays and a splash of French magic to round out our experience. 

Beyond the bar’s brilliant drinks and slinky night haunt energy, there were some insanely tasty (and pretty) eats whizzing out of the kitchen at March. Think natural oysters bathed in a smoky chorizo vinaigrette and melt-in-your-mouth duck liver parfait sandwiched between a glittery shiso-scattered red gel and a crumbly tart. 

We were also bowled over by the juicy orange-sauced sweet and sour quail, loads of fun to eat with your hands and served alongside moist towelettes to clean up afterwards. We’d go back for that alone. With an extra menu of dinner specials on the board, you can easily eat a whole four-course meal here or you can have a bite or two – it’s up to you. 

Ides may be the fancier option for a multi-course elevated meal, but this slinky dive is a hell of a lot more sexy. Our only advice is to go hungry – the elevated bites are worth the extra spend, and they’ll line your belly for some of the most impeccably crafted drinks money can buy on Smith Street.

Read our full review of March here.

Click here to return to the main awards page.

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