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Fred Siggins

Fred Siggins

Fred has over 20 years' experience in the hospitality industry as a bartender, chef, educator, brand manager and drinks expert. He also has over ten years of experience as a freelance writer and photographer covering drinks culture and nightlife for various publications in Australia and the United States. As chief pubs correspondent for Time Out Melbourne since 2015, Fred has written two Time Out Melbourne Pub Guides.  

Follow him on Instagram at @fredsiggins and on Twitter at @fredsiggins.

Articles (12)

The 50 best pubs in Melbourne

The 50 best pubs in Melbourne

May 2024: As falling autumn leaves start to make our footsteps feel crunchier and the air crisps up to a nasty bite, nothing warms the soul like an old boozer with a crackling fireplace, great grub and a jolly comforting drinks list. This town is full of places just of the sort, so here's our current round-up of the best of them.  Trying to choose the 50 best pubs in Melbourne is like trying to choose the 50 best taco stands in Guadalajara or the 50 best sushi joints in Tokyo. That is, it’s near impossible because there are just so many damn good ones. From the casual local boozers to the world-class gastropubs and rocking live music venues, we believe that our great city boasts some of the best pub culture in the world outside the British Isles (you win Dublin, we guess), and we’ll gladly die on that hill.  What makes each of these pubs great is variable - perhaps it's located in a historic building, offers entertainment such as live music and trivia, and serves up quality food that you want to keep coming back for. Perhaps it has a stellar selection of beers on tap, great service and a community feel, or maybe it's welcoming to your four-legged furry friends or kids. No matter what the reason, these 50 pubs are the ones that we rely on, that we depend on like a close mate, that we keep coming back to again and again for just one more frothy, and that we are so thankful to have in our neighbourhoods.  Take your drinking to new heights at the best rooftop bars in Melbourne,

The best steak in Melbourne

The best steak in Melbourne

Australia’s got a hard-earned rep for producing some of the best beef in the world. Unfortunately, our track record at cooking the stuff hasn’t been quite as golden, with “grilled to within an inch of its life” a common approach in the past. Thankfully, Melbourne’s restaurants are catching on to what many have known for years – that when it comes to premium cuts, fresh is not always best. Dry-ageing, the longer the better, has finally taken off, and the result is tender steaks packed with meaty flavour, worthy of the noble beasts from whence they came. If you’re appetite tends toward the more carnivorous side, here’s our list of ten of the best places in Melbourne to taste meat at its best. These are by no means the only places in town throwing a rump on the grill, but they’re our go-to for every budget and occasion. Not sure exactly what you want? Here are the 50 best restaurants in Melbourne. And for dessert? The best places for ice cream and gelato. Just want something fun? Try one of Melbourne's best teppanyaki restaurants.

The best live music venues and pubs in Melbourne

The best live music venues and pubs in Melbourne

While there's suggestion of the live music scene in other cities dying, Melbourne's continues to flourish. And let's face it, who doesn't like a beer with their favourite local band? If you're in the mind to further explore some pubs, maybe have a gander at our guide to Melbourne's best al fresco libation or our guide to our town's best pub grub.

The best pick-up bars in Melbourne

The best pick-up bars in Melbourne

In the age of Hinge, Tinder and Grinder, the dating game has become a matter of swipes and clicks rather than flowers and flirting. Your emoji game is now more important than your dance moves, and your puppy pics are getting you more credit than your table manners. But for those who long for the thrill of a totally random shag with no mutual friends or "shared interests", fear not. Below is our list of the top 11 bars in Melbourne where you can still pick up the old-fashioned way; through drinking and conversation. Good luck out there, Melbourne. If you really hit it off with someone, peruse our guide to the best date ideas in Melbourne. 

The best parmas in Melbourne

The best parmas in Melbourne

Aussies are precious about their parmas. Some reckon it should be called a “parmi” instead of a “parma.” Others don’t really care what you call it - long as it’s cheap on a weeknight. While philosophies may differ on this golden-crumbed beacon of pub protein, we can surely agree on one criterion: the taste.  So we took up the mighty task of finding the best of the best chicken parmas in Melbourne. To judge perfection, we asked: is the chook fresh, flavoursome, moist and tender? Is the crumb well-seasoned and crisp throughout? Is the cheese rich and bubbly golden brown? Is the ham a quality cut, lending depth and umami to an otherwise simple dish? Is the sauce saucy enough? And of course, are the parma's natural allies – the chips, the salad and the beer – all up to scratch?  After much deliberation, we present to you our findings. Find more of Melbourne's best pubs with our guide, or go back to the dish's roots with the best Italian restaurants in town. 

The best breweries in Melbourne

The best breweries in Melbourne

Melbourne’s craft beer scene is one of the best in the world. In recent years, the folks behind our best local frothies have figured out that rather than relying on pubs and bottle shops to dispense their hoppy creations, they can do it themselves, creating some of the city’s best hospitality experiences at their open-to-the-public brewery bars and taprooms. Here are ten of our favourites.  Looking for more great places to drink? Check out the 50 best bars in Melbourne. Keen to kick on? These are the best late-night bars in town. 

Drinks Service Award: Time Out Food Awards 2017

Drinks Service Award: Time Out Food Awards 2017

Winner: The Recreation Bistro A heritage building on a wide corner of Queens Parade in Fitzroy North is home to this bistro of simple charm and utility. Watch your perfect tagliatelle being rolled to order in the open kitchen, its occupants seemingly never stressed. Served with Italian flag colours of bright green onions, red chilli and pale crabmeat, it’s the sort of ideal simplicity that only true love can conjure. And just as flexible as the food is the brilliant wine program, the purview of veterans Joe Durrant and Mark Protheroe (ex-Grossi Florentino) who co-own the Recreation with chef Steven Nelson. The choices are razor sharp, focusing on uncommon local and European producers. A herbaceous gamay has more power than your standard quaffer, with enough weight and crunch to balance the sweetness and funk of a pear and blood pudding tart tartin. It’s a pairing that reminds you how good pairings can be. But not only can you drink great wine here, you can also bring your own, or buy bottles at far cheaper prices to take away thanks to a multi-function liquor licence. Designed to be in and of the community, they’re a representation of what makes this one of the world’s great hospitality cities.

CBD lunch guide: Outdoor eats

CBD lunch guide: Outdoor eats

Somedays, eating inside just won't cut it. On those sunny Melbourne days, soak in some vitamin D at these outdoor eateries. If you're not in the CBD, check out our guide to Melbourne's best lunches, or make it easy with our round-up of Melbourne's best burgers.

Meet Serena O'Callaghan from Jungle Boy

Meet Serena O'Callaghan from Jungle Boy

Age: 27Bar: Boston Sub's Jungle BoyPosition: General managerYears in the game: TenFavourite drink: Jasmine cocktailFavourite bar: Bar AmpereBest late-night feed: Supper InnBest/worst pickup line you’ve heard: “I gave someone a tab card printed on a seven of hearts and he said 'Are you sure this is mine? Because you just stole my heart'.” Serena O’Callaghan is general manager of Jungle Boy, a tiny Tiki bar hidden in a sandwich shop on Chapel Street. The daughter of a real estate agent and a diplomat, Serena’s love of people drew her to hospitality from a young age. “I’ve gotten by talking shit, and people somehow have a good time,” she jokes. Recently nominated for an Australian Liquor Industry Award as Bar Manager of the Year, her experience has paid off with national recognition. O’Callaghan started her career as a hostess at TGI Fridays, and her way with people quickly earned her a coveted spot on the bar. She loved the challenge of memorising recipes, multi-tasking and entertaining guests. Within a few months, she was managing both the bar at Fridays and at the excellent CBD cocktail parlour 1806 under the watchful eye of cocktail guru Sebastian Reaburn, who became her most important mentor. “When he first handed me the keys, I told him I wasn’t ready. I was only 19. But he gave me a piece of advice that’s always stuck with me: ‘To be a good manager, you don’t have to be the best at everything. You just have to know who is and keep them happy'.” O’Callaghan’s Malaysian-Chi

Meet Jack Sotti from Boilermaker House

Meet Jack Sotti from Boilermaker House

Age: 26Bar: Boilermaker HousePosition: General managerYears in the game: NineFavourite drink: Boilermaker (whisky and beer)Favourite bar: Le Bon TonBest late-night feed: Le Bon Ton, or the burger at Bar AmpereJack in ten years will be: “Definitely still bartending. I'd love to own a big, multi-purpose venue with a bar, bottle shop, restaurant and boutique hotel.” Jack Sotti is the general manager of Boilermaker House, the jam-packed venue from the owners of top-class CBD cocktail bar Eau De Vie. He has also just come home from taking on the best bartenders in the world at the Diageo World Class cocktail competition in South Africa, arguably the world’s most prestigious cocktail event. He ended up coming third in the world, and with intelligence, charm, creativity and a world-class smile, it’s not hard to see why. A North London boy, Sotti got his start as a club promoter while studying, and ended up making Flaming Lamborghinis for the Leeds doof-doof crowd. The goal was always to travel, so after earning his stripes on the club scene he hopped a flight to Auckland, where the tight-knit and highly competitive bartending community opened his eyes to the possibilities of craft cocktails. The next stop was Melbourne – his eyes set firmly on the prize of a job at Black Pearl or Eau De Vie. Since landing a spot at the latter two and a half years ago, Sotti has secured himself a place as one of the best bartenders in the city, if not the world. The “incredibly social” nature of the

Top ten rules to avoid pissing off a Melbourne bartender

Top ten rules to avoid pissing off a Melbourne bartender

It's not hard to be a good customer, or a good bartender. Follow these ten rules from someone who has spend a lot of time being both and you'll never find yourself getting ignored at the bar again. Fred Siggins is a freelance writer, whisky educator and bartender. His nearly 20 years of hospitality experience includes work as a chef, brand ambassador, bar manager and consultant.

The best gastropubs in Melbourne

The best gastropubs in Melbourne

Melbourne pubs aren't what they used to be. Sure, we've still got the classics where you'd go to get a pint of Melbourne Bitter or Carlton Draught and a standard parma. But at the other end of the spectrum, gastropubs are shaking things up with gourmet versions of pub grub. You can still get a steak and chips, but the steak will likely be Wagyu and may come with oysters as a starter. If you'd rather Bordeaux than an ale, take a gander at Melbourne's best wine bars. Alternatively, a great swap to the pub hang is a weekend yum cha session, and we've got the low-down on five of the best yum cha spots in town.

Listings and reviews (62)

The Last Jar

The Last Jar

5 out of 5 stars

This review was originally published in May 2013 and since has been updated to reflect any changes in operation. Since 2011, the Last Jar has been flying under the radar as one of the best pubs in Melbourne. Sitting on an unassuming corner of North Melbourne, surrounded by nondescript commercial buildings, this could be mistaken for just another run-of-the-mill local. But the striking black-and-red exterior, reminiscent of a small-town European pub, gives a clue to the Irish heart that beats within. The pints you get here of Guinness or Kilkenny are among the very best in town: yeasty and sour-sweet rather than bitter and metallic. There’s also a good selection of imported and local craft suds by the bottle, and Cooper’s Pale on tap, so you don’t have to think too hard on a hot day. The warm interior is clean and simple, clad in dark wood and frosted glass, small framed photos the only adornment on the deep red walls. There’s also Irish traditional music on Sundays and their movie club showcases the likes of Veronica Guerin and The Crying Game on the last Thursday on the month. But the real draw here is the food. The menu is based on house-made seasonal ingredients and five-star creativity, while firmly rooted in Irish cooking traditions. With a pedigree that includes Michelin-starred restaurant the Commons in Dublin and Gordon Ramsay’s Petrus, head chef and co-owner Tim Sweeney is not here to mess around. Guinness Welsh Rabbit (rarebit) sees big slabs of dense and hearty hou

The Drunken Poet

The Drunken Poet

4 out of 5 stars

This review was originally published in May 2016 and since has been updated to reflect any changes in operation. Opposite Queen Victoria markets on Peel Street, the Drunken Poet is Melbourne’s cosiest little shebeen. These guys pour the freshest pint of Guinness in the land, Vegemite-rich with living yeast, and a cracker Kilkenny to boot. Behind the bar you’ll usually find one of our favourite publicans, Siobhan Dooley, who’ll remember your name a year later and always has a smile on. There’s no kitchen, but you can get a toastie or a pickled egg if Guinness isn’t enough to live on (as if). As for all true Éireanns, music is the soul of the Drunken Poet, here four nights a week and always free. Regulars include Wine, Women and Whisky showcasing local female talent every Wednesday, and Irish traditional sessions on Fridays. It’s decorated with portraits of poets long dead but not forgotten: may we never forget the best little Irish pub this side of Galway.

Music Room

Music Room

4 out of 5 stars

Music Room is a tiny, soundproof space hidden behind wood panelling in the first floor toiletalcove on the way up the red-and-blue lit stairs to rooftop bar Her. Every night, DJs spin loudand proud, and lights in the low, perforated wood ceiling flash red across the crowd of young,trendy and attractive Melbourites lounging on the one long couch and bumping their heads tothe enveloping music.Despite the volume in this small space, the sound quality is excellent because – as the namewould suggest – it’s all about the music here. Rather than a back bar of liquor bottles, a wall of shelves stacked with vinyl records takes centre stage alongside the DJ booth, which runs half the length of the room, so there’s always a good view of the nightly mixmasters. The usual laptop and mixer setup is replaced with three proper turntables. No hitting play on a pre-mixed set here, my friends. Everyone here is young and cool, dressed in their Melbourne trendy best, and it’s refreshinglydiverse. While most of Melbourne’s music venues, especially late night DJ focused ones, arestill unfortunately self-segregated, here it seems more about a mood than a tribe. No one is here for the bump and grind, or even the ‘gram, instead enjoying this little enclave that feels like you’ve been magically shrunk and found yourself on the inside of a high-end sound system. There’s a strong element of otherworldliness here, like Baz Luhrmann’s Netflix show The Get Down, that makes Music Room feel both dreamlike and

Auterra Wine Bar

Auterra Wine Bar

5 out of 5 stars

The flowy linen smocks in muted tones for sale at the shops of Armadale’s main drag want to seem casual, but there’s a self-consciousness to their boutique-ness. Not so at Auterra, where excellence is charmingly unassuming. Here, easy going neo soul plays and light streams in from the heritage shop windows over a beautiful but unfussy room in tones of white and deep red with accents of copper. It’s an inviting space, made more so by the warm greeting of the staff.   A glass of orange wine from ARC in Gippsland is recommended with a side of engaging conversation from our young but savvy server, and it’s just the thing to kick off on a sunny Saturday arvo - all soft peach skin, grapefruit pith grip and bright acidity without tipping over into kombucha funk. It goes great with the lighter seafood options on the snack menu, all super reasonably priced and probably reason #1 among many to settle in here.   The food is designed with wine in mind, and with some real imagination. Ranging from the Instagramable (fancy hot dog) to the high concept (cured bass grouper with hemp seed, quark and burnt citrus), there’s some serious skill and creativity on display, all infused with a sense of fun. If you’re worried it sounds too serious, the unpretentious service and the “F*ck it, we’re all in” feed-me option should prove that it’s more about sharing the quality than putting it on a pedestal.   A bite of steamed scallop with bonito hollandaise is a surprisingly light harmony of savoury, sal

Neighbourhood Wine

Neighbourhood Wine

4 out of 5 stars

What’s the purpose of a neighbourhood wine bar? Should it be cosy and convivial? Exciting and challenging? Flexibile of options from a quick after-work drink to full-blown four-course meal? What about all of the above? Neighbourhood Wine is just that, and Fitzroy North wouldn’t be the same without it.  The second-floor venue overlooking Nicholson Street is all about Euro-classic warmth. Far from the cookie-cutter blonde wood and funky light fixtures that abound in Melbourne, Neighbourhood Wine’s darker colouring of antique wallpaper and dim light envelop the room in a hug of old-world charm and genuine character.  On a cold Sunday in August, the venue is nearly full but feels relaxed. Grace Jones plays on the gorgeous brushed steel record player behind the bar and the heat is turned up high to beat the winter chill. The bar is a great place to sit to feel like you’re part of the action and chat with the knowledgeable team. Can we overstate the importance of good bar stools? It’s doubtful. So cheers to these padded green seats with a supportive back, which will comfortably accommodate your bum for hours.  Neighbourhood Wine is known for its natural and organic wine selection, but it’s more about mindful production than ultra-challenging flavours. A glass of Travis Tausend Handful orange wine from SA is a great place to start, with plenty of funk on the nose, but well-controlled acidity and a light palate for an easy-going aperitif. To nibble, a crayfish éclair sees cheese-infu

Hemingway's Wine Room

Hemingway's Wine Room

3 out of 5 stars

It’s Saturday evening in East Melbourne, and the floodlights of the 'G shine bright through the front windows of Hemingway’s Wine Room as the well-heeled East Melbourne crowd enjoy sipping their red from bulbous wine glasses.  Here, warm and personal service greets you in from the cold straight away. Even on a bustling weekend evening, the waitstaff is calm and collected, leaning on tables to chat with regulars and ensuring every glass is full with the un-rushed self-assurance of life-long professionals. In an industry struggling to rebuild its workforce, it’s lovely to find the kind of casual grace in service usually reserved for the city’s top tier in a neighbourhood joint.  Hemingway’s consists of two small rooms on either side of a hallway, one a dedicated dining room and the other a more casual space that includes the bar and kitchen. They’ve done their best with the unflattering office building architecture, and the deep red banquettes, marble bar tables and bookshelves filled with wine bottles and old books do a lot to soften the space.  The list of wines by the glass is short and to the point, focusing mostly on classic quality like a Turk Kremser Wineberge Gruner from Austria that’s all toasted Tip-Top with butter and apricot jam on the nose and a lovely mid-weight palate with none of the overdone perfume this variety can have. It would be easy for a place like this to stick with unadventurous chardonnay, shiraz and merlot, and those things are here if you want them,

Heroes

Heroes

3 out of 5 stars

Have you ever thought, “I’d really like to sing Disney tunes while chomping on duck hearts and swigging craft beer”? Well, you’re in luck. Heroes, the three-level venue from the crew behind Fancy Hanks, has all your sing-along, South East Asian street food and rooftop cocktail needs covered. To get to this promised land, search out the lift tucked at the back of a nitro ice cream shop on Bourke Street. There, a friendly security guard acts as a gatekeeper and offers the low-down on what’s above. Level one holds a private karaoke room, with warehouse windows looking out over the street, curtains of silver tinsel, your lyrics projected on the wall, and, conveniently, the venue’s only toilets. You’ll need a crew of ten to book it, and it’s $40 per head (which includes a $30 bar tab), so plan ahead if you want to sing. On level two, the grills are fired up to char you some skewers that range from duck heart to chicken or eggplant. Order and pay at the kitchen bar, then find a perch on one of the high tables clustered beneath a canopy of Chinese New Year decorations. The disco ball sending slow shimmers across walls plastered with Asian kitsch gives the room a John Hughes prom-scene tinge. The food choices are generally small, meat-focused and simple – ideal for snacking, less so a full meal. A plate of Szechuan brisket cubes has none of the signature heat or aromatic spice that cuisine is known for. Better to go for the seafood sambal. Today it’s stingray, grilled then slathered

Napier Quarter

Napier Quarter

Update: We attended this venue in January 2018 and some details may have altered since then.  The tiny bluestone building on the corner of Napier and Kerr Streets in Fitzroy has had a few businesses pass through over the years, mostly average cafés that couldn’t last long enough to warm the hearth. But now that wine and espresso bar Napier Quarter has moved in, we hope this charming spot has found its forever venue. Inside, there’s only room for six tables and a couple of narrow benches. A big chalk board on the high brick wall lists the wines of the day, and pastries beckon from a case on the counter. White tiles, old wood panelling and black bistro furniture lit by large globes hanging low over the bar will make you feel like you're back in Paris. With lofty ceilings and huge windows, the space is bright and cosy; breezy yet comforting. The calm and assured staff are comforting too, talking you through today's open wines and food specials with an easy smile. Start with a house made French lemonade, garnished simply with fresh mint and lemon and laced with vanilla bean and subtle aniseed. Get it spiked with gin if it's been a hard day. The teaspoon in the glass is an unnecessary accoutrement, but the reference to the self-mixed French bistro versions is almost literary in its extraneousness. Who needs France when you can have this in Fitzroy and the waiter is nice to you? Daily sandwiches and roast specials (bird, beast or fish) alongside snacks and salads make meals of any

Capitano

Capitano

Update: We attended this venue in September 2018 and some details may have altered since then.  Capitano is the latest venue to join the likes of Heartattack & Vine and the revamped Carlton Wine Room, kicking the Carlton Italian revival into high-gear. All of a sudden the neighbourhood that taught us how to eat Italian has gone from tourist-trap to modern marvel of casual drinking and dining. Capitano, brought to you by the Bar Liberty crew, is bigger, brighter and louder than its Johnston Street sibling, offering far more approachable food and booze but keeping the quality, fun and delightful service. The repurposed Beaufort is now sporting cream walls and big windows on two sides that feel clean and classic; deep red trim recalling old-school French bistro flatware; and everyone here seems engrossed in lively conversation. Capitano is a fundamentally social place, the menu’s purpose is to lubricate and satisfy rather than draw focus from your companions. The stated inspiration here is Italian-American, and you can see the influence in the 'gabagool' starter (it’s the New Jersey-Italian pronunciation of the cured pork salumi usually called cappiccola), and the vodka sauce on one of two pasta dishes. But apart from these scant nods, Capitano is all Melbourne. There’s only a few simple choices food wise, but all the bases are covered. The bubbly and chewy pizza dough is as good as any in town, served in small, dense rounds unlike the giant floppy ones you’d find in New York. I

The Wood Samaritan

The Wood Samaritan

4 out of 5 stars

The Wood Samaritan is loosely Canadian log-cabin themed, with vintage skis, a full-sized canoe and pictures of Yukon landscapes hanging from the wood-panelled walls. But to say this is a themed bar would be an injustice. Despite the poutine and Bloody Caesar on the menu, this is first and foremost a neighbourhood joint – not a cheesy concept bar – and a good one to boot. The staff are lovely and welcoming; popping out from behind the bar to say hi to a couple of neighbourhood doggos, happy to explain the craft-leaning beers to a befuddled punter, and even chatting politely to a rookie sales rep who interrupts service to ply his wares. This is the kind of bar where you’re a welcome stranger on your first visit, a regular on the second, and a friend by the third. There are cheap tacos on Tuesdays, and the happy hour runs 4-7 on weeknights.  As well as a short but solid list of craft beers – almost exclusively local – there are simple but fun twists on classic cocktails like a Smoked Jalapeño Margarita, a Maple and Peach Sour and a PB&J Negroni made with peanut butter-washed bourbon and strawberry jam-infused vermouth. It’s delicious and way more subtle than it sounds, the bitterness of the Campari still working its magic, but it could stand a little less dilution. The Bloody Caesar (the Canadian version of the Bloody Mary made with a combination of tomato and clam juices) is on point too, overflowing with pickles and rimmed in spices.  A to-the-point list of bar snacks includes

LuWow

LuWow

3 out of 5 stars

If you were hanging around Fitzroy in the mid-aughts, you may remember the tropical-themed bar/nightclub that was LuWoW, which closed in 2016. The kitsch venue rose from the dead in much smaller digs in the CBD in 2019. The new LuWoW is small and intimate, but lined with bamboo and still cluttered with Halloween exotica like the set of a 1960s Tarzan movie, it’s very much a version of the original.  On arrival, we’re greeted by a friendly host with a beehive hairdo, heavy winged eyeliner and a tropical print dress, who leads us to a booth overshadowed by huge totem poles. A lifelike plastic python stares through less-lifelike plastic foliage, and everything is bathed in soft red light like a James Bond sex scene.  The drinks list is 100 per cent tropical fun, with all the classic hits like Mai Tais, Zombies and Painkillers playing lead. That Painkiller is ultra-sweet and creamy with coconut and dark rum, and the Zombie is also sticky sweet with baking spices, tasting a bit like a Christmas-scented candle from Bed Bath N’ Table. Balanced it ain’t, but it lives up to its reputation of packing a boozy punch. Here that booze is high quality, with premium rums like Plantation and five-year-old Demerara the base for most drinks. If you prefer to drink your rum neat, the “Skipper’s Rum Club” every Wednesday means steep discounts on the whole back bar.  For something a bit less sugary, grab a Waku Aku. This lighter, gin-based drink is still full of tropical fun, with mint, pineapple,

Moon Dog World

Moon Dog World

4 out of 5 stars

The name makes it sound like a theme park of sorts, and that’s not far off. An indoor lagoon takes up one side of the space, overlooked by striped umbrellas and fed by a stream that flows from a five-metre indoor waterfall made of fake rocks. The space, a huge warehouse in the industrial back streets of Preston, recalls childhood memories of summers spent in cheesy water parks; there’s even a merch stand where you can buy packaged beers, T-shirts and fluoro stubby holders. Potted palms and walls of greenery flank double-stacked shipping containers, which have booths inside and balconies overlooking the room on top. One is filled with pinball machines and lounge furniture; another houses a tropical-themed bar bedazzled with fairy lights.  Despite the immensity of the space – and Melbourne’s crappy weather – the place is packed. Disco and ’70s pop rise above the cacophony of big groups of mates and young families occupying every inch of available real estate. The full-sized playground is overflowing with the progeny of Preston, and prams are parked around the rest of the room. Sneakers flash as parents pull toddlers away from the enticing waters of the lagoon. But despite the family vibe, the young and the childless are well represented, and there’s even a buck’s party pre-gaming for a big night on the town.  Today, the machine is humming, and you never have to wait long for anything. Behind the huge three-sided bar that juts into the room like a beer-fuelled command centre, mo

News (1)

Footscray is getting its own craft beer bar and bottleshop

Footscray is getting its own craft beer bar and bottleshop

Mr. West, slated to open mid-August, is bringing the bar/bottleshop concept to Footscray. It's going to feature a rooftop courtyard and bar area serving crafty pints from 24 taps, as well as cocktails and wine. The venue will also offer takeaway from the extensive downstairs bottle shop. Owners Caleb Barker (Custard & Co. Cider, Bluebonnet BBQ) and Josh Hodges (Cookie, Ferral Brewing Co., Little Andora) bring a wealth of beer, wine, cocktail and spirits knowledge west with them, promising to showcase all things “weird, whacky and wonderful” from the world of craft booze.    The bottle shop will dominate the ground floor space, featuring hundreds of craft beers, natural wines, Australian and little-known spirits. All beer and wine will be available to drink on premise, either in the upstairs bar or in the small lounge and pool room behind the bottle shop. Upstairs, a cocktail list will showcase the serious but approachable style both Barker and Hodges have developed over years behind some of Melbourne’s best bars. You’ll also be able to line your belly with a small list of simple bar snacks (cheese, meats, olives), or BYO food from any of the many (and delicious) nearby take-away shops. Occupying what was once a $2 shop, the space has been revamped by Twig & Co construction (Parkside, Pokéd) who left the original concrete walls and wooden beams intact and installed skylights upstairs for plenty of natural light. Promising to work with producers, distributors and experts to pu