A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published April 24th 2014
The Croft gets a 3 syringe rating
The Croft Institute is a bit of a hidden gem; mainly because it's so difficult to find! Take your GPS (or trusty smart phone at least), and trust what it says as you wend your way down a dimly lit inner city back alley, past freshly painted street art and slightly on-the-nose rubbish skips, to The Croft Institute. It's comforting to know that it's actually just around the corner from Melbourne's Chinatown, although it almost feels like you're being transported to another city entirely.
The Croft Institute's decor is a little different from most city bars; it's based on the look and feel of a high school science lab, complete with test tubes, flasks, beakers and an assortment of other glassware. It is far from a sterile environment, however, seeming to be pretty popular on the (Saturday) night we visited. The lighting is low, highlighting the cabinets of scientific paraphernalia.
The downstairs bar looks like a school science lab
There is a bar on the ground floor, and another upstairs in what is referred to as 'the gymnasium'. On the night we were there, there was some rap music in full swing, with a large video screen in action to give extra atmosphere.
Upstairs bar and music venue
The Croft Institute prides itself on its custom designed cocktails. What's particularly quirky about these is that they're served with a large syringe in the glass - the sort of syringe that (judging by the size of it) is more likely to be utilised in veterinary medicine than the human variety. It somehow feels a little bit naughty to consume a drink by squirting the liquid into your mouth from a syringe - so much more fun than a straw.
If cocktails are not your thing, there is a range of wines and beers available. Food is not offered here.
The Croft Institute is open late each night except Sunday (when it's closed), so it's perfect to pop in for a pre-dinner drink or a post-dinner rap. It would be a great place to take an interstate visitor, to show what a funky and different place Melbourne can be.
I should mention that there was a $10 cover charge on the night we went. So if you just pop in for one drink and a bit of a look around (as we did) it makes it a bit expensive.