The Spirited Traveler: Drinking in Melbourne's golden age

Tue Oct 11, 2011 5:56am EDT
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By Kara Newman

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fifteen years ago licensing reform in Melbourne sparked a "small bar" revolution, attracting a global influx of bartenders to Australia. Since then, Victoria's capital has become famed for its particularly diverse and energetic bar scene.

Some might argue that Melbourne's bar scene is enjoying a second Golden Age.

The first would have been the 1800s.

"As Jerry Thomas was publishing his cocktail book in 1862 and Americans were falling for the mixed drink, gold was making Melbourne one of the world's wealthiest cities," recounts Martin Newell, a local brand ambassador with rum maker Bacardi.

"And with a taste for gold came a taste for cocktails."

Naturally, a number of Melbourne's bars celebrate this era, albeit with a few modern twists.

For example, at the Lui Bar (here)

on the 55th floor of Rialto Towers, Australian bartending icon Sebastian Reaburn tells the story of Melbourne's 19th-century cocktail culture through the bar menu, showcasing drinks like the Lola Montez Spider Dance Fizz (Grand Marnier, fresh blood orange juice and Champagne), named after an 1850s erotic dancer.   Continued...