BAR OF THE YEAR AND BEST WINE BAR

Bar Lib­erty

Time Out (Melbourne) - - BAR AWARDS -

Wine bars are hav­ing a glo­ri­ous, vi­nous hey­day in Mel­bourne, but Lib­erty holds her torch above them all

TO DRINK AT Lib­erty is to revel in the best of all booze. The only rule about each drop here is that it must be a su­perla­tive ex­am­ple of its style. Whether it’s wine, cider, cock­tails, whisky, ver­mouth or even house­made soda, ev­ery item on the long menu is care­fully cu­rated. You could start with a spe­cial edi­tion of sour beer made by Bridge Road Brew­ery from wild yeast col­lected at Sor­ren­berg win­ery; or a Pi­con Bière, the French clas­sic of lager spiked with bit­ter or­ange liqueur. Next, move on to a Rug­ga­bel­lus Sal­lio muscat from Eden Val­ley which smells like Tiger Balm and tastes like an­cient forests. Like many of the wines here, it’s a sin­gu­lar and in­cred­i­ble drink­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. While you sip, read their ever-evolv­ing wall of in­spi­ra­tion: sim­ple gold move­able let­ters on black felt that of­fer shout-outs to booze mak­ers, chefs, writ­ers, mu­si­cians, restau­rants and even ri­val bars. Be in­spired your­self with a Sour Grapes cock­tail, as good as any mixed drink in the city. It’s cre­ated by Nick Te­sar, one of Mel­bourne’s best bar­tenders, and this com­bi­na­tion of Star­ward wine cask sin­gle malt whisky, pinot noir and yuzu has the bright­ness of ripe grapes run­ning through ev­ery sip and a level of com­plex­ity rarely found in cock­tails. You should eat here, too. Raw beef is diced and mixed with ca­pers and Di­jon for a vel­vety tex­ture, ready to be scooped mouth­ward by crisps of de­hy­drated po­lenta and sweet caramelised onion. Gar­lic bread crumbs and in­tense baby herbs adorn a pile of heirloom cu­cum­bers, and pipis get served with savoury dough­nuts made for dip­ping in XO sauce. The food is not al­ways as smash­ingly suc­cess­ful as the drinks, but it’s cre­ative and en­gag­ing, with a sense of fun run­ning through ev­ery dish that’s re­flected in the over­all at­ti­tude here of se­ri­ous peo­ple hav­ing a very good time. On any given night, they might be lis­ten­ing to Bob Dy­lan or Rage Against the Ma­chine, and you could be drink­ing $500 bot­tles of 1978 Ital­ian red or do­ing shots of Jim Beam from a ce­ramic sports car. The ge­nius of this venue is that they’re of­fer­ing the things they re­spect and want to drink them­selves. When you read the menu, or some­thing is de­scribed in that calm, com­fort­ing way they do, you’ll re­alise that that’s ex­actly what you want to drink, too. 234 John­ston St, Fitzroy 3065. bar­lib­erty.com. Mon-thu 5-10pm; Fri,sat 5pm-midnight; Sun noon-10pm.

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