This Editor’s Note appears in the June issue of Australian Bartender. Sydney, it was fun while it lasted. There was a time, before the lockouts — a hazy time filled with bad decisions and a lot of fun — when you had stolen the mantle as the capital of good drinking from Melbourne.
Melbournites would have disagreed (of course), but with the world class bars that had opened in Old Sydney Town and a small bar revolution cemented, Sydney ruled the roost.
Well, times change, and Melbourne is looking pretty good right now.
The life of the party now is back in Melbourne. Walking the streets on a recent weekend that was self-evident; people were everywhere, bars and restaurants were full, and a buoyant mood filled the streets.
It was there in the city itself, and in the suburbs too. Many of the new and delicious places to drink doubled as fine places to eat. Bar Liberty in Fitzroy not only poured great wine (their house brand sherry wine we can vouch for) they also ticked the boxes in the food department (a crispy chicken skin sandwich is worth a visit in and of itself); the same is true of Christian McCabe’s Embla where the marriage between food and drink is a happy one.
I’m a proud Sydneysider (bar the three nights of the year when I bleed maroon during the State of Origin), and I’ve always enjoyed the sport of hanging shit on Melbourne in Melbourne. It’s never true, exactly — Melbourne has long had some of the best bars in the country — but the game is a lot less fun these days when Sydney doesn’t have a leg to stand on. And it’s not to say Sydney doesn’t have the bars to compete; the things that lets Sydney down right now is out of the control of the bars, it’s a city-wide thing. It’s the regular barrage on social media of the young and the bartenders that feel that their wants and desires keep being shat on from the great height of a government ensconced in its ivory tower.
My solution: take a flight down to Melbourne when the fares are cheap, grab the free tram in the CBD, and eat and drink until 5am. You’ll forget, for just a little while, all the garbage going on in Sydney. Hell, hit up Brisbane before their own lockout laws take full effect, or better still, follow the sun out west to Perth and its burgeoning bar landscape — just don’t catch the red eye flight back.
See you at the bar.