The world's most liveable city was filling up with Christmas spirit as I worked my way along Collin Streets towards my final destination. Guided by the setting sun, I was determined to uncover the secrets that might spell my fall from grace.
My footsteps ceased in front of large glass windows, which revealed an atmosphere merry with after-work chatter and festive cheers. Its residents seemed oblivious to the secrets beneath this 1889 built landmark. I entered State of Grace on the street level. The restaurant decor assaulted my senses with its eclectic mix of antiquities and celebration of juxtaposition, which married polarised eras, icons and items.
I push aside the door marked 'Toilets' and found myself in a library of sorts. Word on the street was that a cryptic word whispered would unveil the hidden passage. My informant hinted at a book that would open the door. I shuffled through the bookshelf until I chanced upon a red hardcover and knew instinctively that my fall from grace was near.
The eccentric space reached out with its unique blend of European opulence and boho-chic. It ties in with the old prohibition bars where you wouldn't know there was a bar at all unless somebody showed you how to find it. Well adorned sections offered aside places for lingering looks, secret dates and hushed conversations. Everywhere I look, people from all walks of life were merry with drinks and conversations.
I caught the eye of my informant, one of the bar's tattooed masters who would divulge the secrets of this hidden underground venue. A man better known as Adam Smith. Adam has been in the hospitality industry, from 2 cent nightclubs to high end cocktail bars and forest retreat hotels to the grimy dive bars of Melbourne for 7 years. He believes Australia as a whole has a lot more unique watering holes than many parts of the world. In the case of Melbourne, a good concept, a solid team and consistent drinks makes a top bar. And the Fall from Grace Cellar Bar happens to be one of them.
I could not leave without gleaning more of the cellar bar's secrets. The more we discussed, the more the place and drinks drew me in. Adam shared that the hidden location of the bar is a big selling point. Importantly the generally relaxed attitude of the staff help to make customers feel welcomed and more comfortable.
Drinks and food were affordable priced from $9 onwards with indulgences at $35 for an old fashioned if you're feeling a little flush. As a great accompaniment to some of the bar's more complex libations, check out the lamb loin with burnt carrot puree. The venue also catered for all events such as 21st's, weddings and small corporate get togethers.
Everywhere I looked, cocktails were on people's lips. It's no surprise since the bar has a long cocktail list for all reasons, including 12 signatures for the summer season. Adam suggested the 'Vida Loca' with its refreshing blend of mezcal, marmalade and mint as a pretty solid after work pick-me-up or ask the bartender for a tiki style 'Summer in the City', a concoction of sherry, chocolate and pickled purple carrot to help those long nights go easier. For that perfect date drink, Adam recommended a 'Peche Bouilot' for the lady and an 'Old Man River' for the gentleman.
I remember my fall from grace was sour-sweet. A 'Southside' of gin, lime and mint danced on my senses. Adam called it a classic from prohibition times. It was made-to-order. Some secret indulgences are best kept hidden behind the library door and not in the open of Collins Street. But now you know.