The first statute relating to alcohol in Victoria was passed in 1852. The Victorian law required that in order to sell alcohol, pubs also had to serve food and provide accommodation. This led to the two-story pub architecture we’ve become so accustomed to.
Here’s a list of five venues that will transport you to a time before we created our social networks online, spoke to each other on Skype and hunted Pokémon in augmented reality. Remember when we exchanged stories in person over a glass of wine?
The Supper Club is comfortable and stylish without being pretentious. Behind a non-descript wooden door (so very Melbourne) you’ll find weathered Chesterfield couches, wood-panelled walls, candle-lit tables, creaky wooden floors and a stunning circular window that frames Melbourne’s Parliament House. This is real old-world charm. Walk in out of the cold, settle in and ask for a recommendation or two from the Club’s extensive wine list. Bliss!
The European is so … well … European. If you’re feeling a little ‘Euro-nostalgic’, save yourself the cost of flights and accommodation and walk down Spring Street into this sumptuous taste of the continent. Its vintage décor, mirrored walls, classic chequered floor and old-style wood panelling make The European a classy mix of traditional France, Italy and Spain. Soak up the bustling ambience while you sip on a Chablis or Chianti Classico and tuck into a seasonal mushroom risotto with truffle oil or the venue’s outstanding chateaubriand for two. Bon voyage and buon appetito!
Italian Waiters Club
The Italian Waiters Club first opened its doors in the 1940s as a venue for immigrant hospitality workers to come and enjoy a game of cards and a glass of wine. Now open to all, the club has become a Melbourne icon. Tucked away down an alley (as many of Melbourne’s best bars and restaurants are) then up a set of stairs above Meyers Place Bar. Just follow the amazing aroma emanating from the many Italian dishes on offer, such as the Penne Putanesca or Scaloppine Al Vino. Bellissimo!
The Mitre Tavern is listed as the oldest building in Melbourne. You don’t get much more old-world than this – they’ve served alcohol here for nearly 140 years! The venue is a country-style, rustic gem and almost surprisingly, it boasts one of the largest beer gardens in the city. In addition to a good selection of beers on tap, wines, whisky and cocktails, you’ll find burgers and other pub classics in the tavern, and premium char-grilled beef steaks in the steakhouse upstairs.
Young & Jackson
Young & Jackson is a pleasant blend of classic pub and boutique bar with beautiful wooden décor and immaculate ceiling detail. Head to Chloe’s Room on the first floor where you’ll find Chloé: an oil canvas painting of a young Parisian, which has adorned Young & Jackson’s walls since 1909. Enjoy boutique beer, fine wine and unique cocktails while appreciating one of Melbourne’s most iconic artefacts.