12 Bourke St Melbourne, VIC 3000
|Opening hours||Mon-Wed 4pm-3am, Thu-Sat 4pm-5am, Sun 2pm-11pm|
|Payments||eftpos, AMEX, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||03 9654 6249|
It's hard to wipe the smug grin off your face if you're a night owl in Melbourne these days. Getting a quality drink and bite after midnight, never impossible in this town, is easier now than it's ever been. That situation has been been further improved with Con Christopoulos throwing (another) hat into the ring with Angel Music Bar.
Christopoulos has been showing late-night Melbourne a good time for years at The European, The Melbourne Supper Club, Siglo and, more recently, his 24-hour eatery Butchers Diner. The common denominator with these joints is quality. Paying careful attention to design, booze, food and service, Christopoulos has helped to legitimise and broaden the definition and possibilities of small hours businesses that were once considered the sole realm of the over-refreshed and non-discerning. Angel Music Bar adds another layer to that mix.
It's not just about nightcaps and winding down. A brilliant, expensive sound system, constantly changing roster of DJs and music genres, open-air courtyard at the back and a compact hidden Dance Bar upstairs, give Angel a flexibility that can keep the night going against a backdrop of well-constructed cocktails and good-time bar food such as a classic prawn cocktail or a lobster mac and cheese.
It defies simple categorisation, preferring instead to borrow across bar, club and late-night diner culture.
The music is equally unpredictable. Some nights you'll walk in to the strains of Dave Brubeck. Opera has been heard, as has electronica, R&B and reggae. There's a good possibility there will be dancing even though, downstairs, there's no proscribed dance floor.
The main bar, with its splashes of neon, French oak flooring and seating limited to the fixed tan leather stools lining the timber and brass bar with the DJ booth down one end, is encouragingly free of clutter. Early on, it might seem sparse. As the night wears on the space makes increasing sense.
Service is swift and friendly with the bartenders working from a reasonably brief script that includes cocktails that don't need too much time to assemble. The Amaro Old Fashioned is a rich, delicious take on the whisky classic while fruit-plus-rum-plus-ice choices such as the Junglebird and the Pain Killer are refreshing for those who do decide to take a twirl.
Wine and beer lists are compact and decently priced with nothing too challenging in the way of minimal intervention or craft. You can also spend hundreds of dollars on champagne if the mood strikes. It's not the place to overthink things.
The food menu, or Room Service as it's called, is delivered via a slot in the wall from next door's Butchers Diner. There's a solid toasted ham and cheese sandwich, hummus and raw vegetables, french fries and arancini. Boxes are ticked and it's available until close.
Angel Music Bar is like a good time clubhouse for grown-ups. It may not be what you expect one night but come the next one and it may well be. Night owls rejoice.