Hard to find, but such a treat once you do, Eau De Vie Melbourne is a classy basement bar redolent of prohibition era intrigue serving serious Whiskies and elevated Cocktails with a touch of panache.
Location: 1 Malthouse Ln, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 8393 9367
For newbies, part of the fun of grabbing a cocktail or 2 at Eau De Vie Melbourne is actually finding the place.
In fact, every time we’ve visited, we’ve run into a bewildered-looking would-be drinker wandering lost along Malthouse Lane. You see, there’s nothing to assure you that you are in the right spot and that Eau De Vie is within reach. No sign or name plate. Simply a dull copper door with an ornate handle.
But tug open that forbiddingly heavy door and what a world awaits you.
Behind the anonymous portal, there’s a babble of noise and the frisson of a secretive basement drinking den. And no matter how hard it was for you to locate it, this hidden bar will be packed with those in the know. Because if you enjoy your cocktails served with a sprinkling of theatrics, Eau De Vie is the place for you – especially if you’re a devotee of whisk(e)y.
For our recommendations on the Best Cocktail Bars in Melbourne, see here.
There’s a strong prohibition era vibe to this bar.
So it makes sense that it’s part of the Speakeasy Group, who run a number of glamorous bars and eateries across Melbourne and Sydney. Indeed, Eau De Vie Melbourne has a close sister – Eau De Vie Sydney – in the Harbour City. And the stunning art deco-themed Nick & Nora’s Melbourne is also part of the family, along with Nick & Nora’s Sydney.
When you first get through that hard-to-find metal door, there’s a velvet curtain to fight your way past. Navigate that, and you’re in a slice of decadent, 1920s night life.
Head down the short staircase at the entrance and join the throng. To the left, punters perch at high tables and stools in the centre of the room, whilst others crowd onto snug banquets that hug the walls. Turn right and there are a handful of cosy private booths – perfect for a clandestine meeting of four. Secretive corners aside, the star attraction of is the jewel-like bar, glinting with a rainbow of spangled bottles.
The vibe at Eau De Vie Melbourne manages to be both intimate and showy at the same time. There’s an excitement in finally finding that elusive all-revealing door and the contents of the bar within don’t disappoint.
What’s more, there’s a further secret bar within a bar at this fun establishment. Sneak behind the bookcase and you’re in a fabulously well-stocked Whisky Room. It’s truly a malt-lovers dream.
If you’re hunting for liquid refreshment with a view, see our take on the Best Rooftop Bars in Melbourne
Whilst Eau De Vie Melbourne prizes Whisky and Whiskey above other spirits – more of that later – we are here for the Cocktails. Though making a choice from the truly extensive list of options is quite a chore.
Thankfully, help is at hand. First off, our wonderfully friendly waitress materialises to give us a quick rundown on how the menu works. Secondly, the smart folks manning the bar have been obliging enough to split the menu up into easy-to-navigate sections.
So there’s the Bright & Crisp selection full of palate cleansers and punchy Spritzes. One such libation is the glorious Birth of Venus ($29).
A fragrant White Peach Sorbet bathes in an intoxicating pool of Bombay Sapphire Premier Cru Gin, Citrus Liqueur & Suze. The Sorbet is dressed with feisty White Balsamic Pearls and our waiter tops the glass with Bubbly at the the table. It’s a light, aromatic, refreshing glass of delightfulness which veers towards dessert – hence the spoon.
The Decadent & Indulgent page carries a quote from The Great Gatsby and a quartet of tempting tipples. The Marshmallow Fizz ($24) wins out in the end. It arrives in an elegant champagne flute – a striking blend of Bombay Sapphire Gin, Strawberry Vermouth, Amaro Montenegro, Pineapple Vinegar, Marshmallow Syrup, Whites & Soda. Sweet and fruity, it tastes like all the best bits from a childhood lolly bag – but with a smack of alcolhol.
The crew at Eau De Vie are known for their showmanship and the Don Giovanni ($29) Cocktail provides quite a show. A sophisticated mix of Grey Goose Vodka, Cocchi Rosa, Amaro Montenegro & Citrus Peel Cordial, the drama comes when the waiter pours it from a duck-shaped glass decanter at the table. It’s a fun little twist and makes me long for a duck-anter for Christmas!
Whisky & Whiskey
Of course, the main currency of Prohibition America was Whisk(e)y. With this in mind, it makes sense that this evocative bar places particular emphasis on all things malt.
Apart from an impressive array of bottles and the tantalising contents of the dedicated Whisky Room, Eau De Vie Melbourne also runs Whisky tasting experiences. This includes their popular Whisky 101 at $80 pp and their Whisky & Cheese Tuesdays. The latter matches 5 carefully chosen Cheese with 5 x 15ml of Whiskies for $40 pp. It’s a wonderful way to spend an hour or two – especially in the colder months.
Although on this occasion we only stay for Cocktails, Eau De Vie Melbourne offers a tightly curated Food Menu for those needing a little sustenance.
In the past, The EDV ‘Everything’ Board ($100) of 3 Cheeses, 2 Meats, Baguette, Olives, Fruits, Nuts, Accompaniments and more has been demolished with gusto. Eatability is similarly keen on the golden Fried Cauliflower with its more-ish Chipotles Sauce ($15).
If you feel like pushing the boat out, the kitchen can put together a ‘Feed Me’ Chef’s Selection at $59 pp. Our tip is to make sure it includes the Crispy Potatoes with Truffle Aioli & Comte Cheese ($16). You can thank us later.
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If you’ve yet to track down the entrance to Eau De Vie Melbourne, put it on your must-do list.
The ambience of this elegant bar harks back to a time when Whisky was illegal – and all the more appealing as a result.
For a refined, nostalgic vibe and Cocktails with oodles of style, this is one of the stand-out drinking spots in the Victorian capital.