I'll tell you straight up that I'm not a drinker at all. So why am I writing about Dan Murphy's? I love all things architectural and artistic, and I was told the underground section has to be seen to be believed, and boy they were not wrong! The whole set up blew my mind! After that experience, I do believe we should have lots more underground, rabbit warrens of exciting, innovative, artistic shops, hiding for us to discover, all perfectly and mysteriously decorated to capture all our senses of course!
As I write, the imagination is running; so how about a whole market of treasures underground? Wouldn't that be something! Perfectly cool for summertime shopping. The staff member of Dan Murphy's was very understanding of my wide-eyed appearance, agog with the anticipation of what I was about to experience. He very kindly gave me a personal tour, no rush, chilled, informative and attentive.
Here's a clanger for some. How many of you knew that Dan Murphy's is owned by Woolworths? I could be the only late bloomer here that just discovered it because I don't drink. Woe is me. Hah! Dan Murphy's sold his thriving business and his name to Woolworths' Australian liquor supermarket chain in 1998, and there are now more than 200 Dan Murphy's stores across the country. Dan Murphy the veteran wine merchant passed away in 2001, just 3 years later, at the age of 84.
The one down the road from me is at 273-281 Chapel street in Prahran, and they're open from 9-8 Mon-Fri, Sat 9-5 and Sun 10-4. However with the ability to order online, they're open 24/7. They also have weekly tastings, so you can try before you buy, and if you join them as a member, you get exclusive member offers, member-only competitions, invites to upcoming events, and you can re-order past purchases with ease.
With the lead up to Christmas, there are additional tastings over and above their usual schedule, and these are available all day Fri, Sat and Sunday, so check here for what will be on tasting on each of the weekends in the lead up to Christmas. Check here for their holiday operating hours, and you can always shoot them an email with your enquiries.
Daniel Francis Murphy realised his lifelong dream of running his own liquor store after working for many years for his father. In 1952, at 34 years of age, he leased a licensed grocery store on Chapel Street, Prahran, around the corner from the business run by his father Timothy no less, on Commercial Road. Fine wine was his life's passion, and as his collection grew he needed places to store it. As the grand Prahran Arcade next door had an unused basement, he gained permission from the owner Paul Rose in 1954, knocked a space through the brick wall, and began his Vintage Club, and the retail business that would become Dan Murphy's Cellars.
The up-market, new and improved Cellar opened in Sep 2016 and is nostalgically located at Prahran Arcade, built in the 1890s, a reminder of the opulent boom years with a facade epitomising the excesses of late 19th-century architecture in Victoria. It was designed by prominent local architect George W. McMullen in 1889 and built by James McMullen for Mrs Elizabeth Delaney of St Kilda. Complete with Italianate-style architecture, and guarded by a pair of stone eagles, it was finished in 1890. Dan Murphy leased the building in 1968, renaming it The Gallery.
No expense has been spared in fitting it out and stocking this new shop in this amazing historical space. It's temperature controlled, dimly lit, but not so you can't see anything, and lovely and cool so you can take your time and get a wine and whisky education, rather than racing to fill a shopping basket. The staff are incredibly knowledgeable and impeccably dressed. Here is where you'll find the most comprehensive collections of rare, back vintage and hard-to-source Australian and International wines. While you're down there, take note of that gorgeous timber door made from crate ends that we could all emulate and the fact that you can actually see Chapel street at walking feet level from the gorgeous historic window openings below.
Stay updated on Dan Murphy's Facebook page, but visit them for real on Chapel street, for the full experience. You won't be disappointed.