How Melbourne bars are keeping our spirits up in lockdown

Bar manager Dom Garreffa operates his new canning machine at The Woods in Windsor.
Bar manager Dom Garreffa operates his new canning machine at The Woods in Windsor. Photo: Eddie Jim

From express-posted espresso martinis to mail-order Manhattans, small bars are putting cocktails on wheels to get their business – and Melburnians – through lockdown.

Pill bottles are the vessel of choice at Bar None in Camberwell, a nod to when cocktails were considered tonics. In the CBD, Romeo Lane vacuum seals pouches filled with Sidecars and Old Fashioneds, a nifty solution that takes up minimal home-freezer space and is cheaper to deliver than glass. Meanwhile, booze companies such as Maidenii, Archie Rose and Mr Black are canning cocktails.

Drinks to-go have become a financial lifeline and sometimes a creative outlet for Melbourne bars in the past 18 months. And on occasions like Father's Day, business really takes off.

A bottled Tommy's Margarita from Bar None in Camberwell. The pill bottle design is inspired by the history of cocktails, ...
A bottled Tommy's Margarita from Bar None in Camberwell. The pill bottle design is inspired by the history of cocktails, when the drinks were considered tonics or elixirs. Photo: Courtesy Bar None

The Everleigh Bottling Co, the ready-to-drink arm of the Fitzroy bar of the same name, sold 500 of its whisky cocktail sets designed for dad in just two weeks. Owners Michael and Zara Madrusan began batching cocktails in 2015 and are considered industry leaders in packaging beautiful and precisely measured drinks.

"All of a sudden you've got perfection in a glass," says Michael Madrusan. The pair originally developed the drinks for busier venues where staff have less time to mix fresh cocktails.

"You could get a Manhattan quicker than you could get a beer," he says. "That's pretty cool."

The cocktail to-go selection at The Woods.
The cocktail to-go selection at The Woods. Photo: Eddie Jim

Windsor bar The Woods was already selling canned cocktails before the current lockdown. Manager Dom Garreffa purchased a canning machine earlier this year to make seltzer for a soon-to-open rooftop bar in the CBD. Now the machine is sealing up to 150 cocktails a day for takeaway.

"Someone takes orders, another shakes drinks and then we can it," says Garreffa. "It's all a very quick, easy process."

Footscray bar Trouble In Dreams introduced Ikea-inspired drinks with "some assembly required" after large groups illegally gathered in mid-August to drink takeaway alcohol outdoors. The idea was to make it impossible for someone to enjoy a drink on the street.

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"We've done most of the heavy lifting but the last little step of putting everything together is something the end consumer does," says owner and manager Chad Parkhill.

As for imbibing takeaway cocktails at home, the resounding consensus is to chill both glassware and bottle (or pouch) in the freezer for 15 minutes before adding your favourite garnish. "You want to enjoy it," says Madrusan.

Seven Melbourne venues mixing drinks to-go 

Send a Father's Day drink to dad from venues offering same-day delivery, or treat yourself to something made by a professional.

The Everleigh Bottling Co's new half-litre range of bottled cocktails.
The Everleigh Bottling Co's new half-litre range of bottled cocktails. Photo: Courtesy The Everleigh Bottling Co

The Everleigh Bottling Co delivery across Australia (except SA and NT)

Receive beautifully packaged classic cocktails to your door with ice and garnishes for Father's Day, too. For spring drinking, check out carbonated tipples such as the Americano or, for your rainy day stash, a half-litre negroni bottle. Place Father's Day orders by 2pm for same-day delivery in Melbourne.

Bar None delivery across Melbourne on Fridays, 10km from Camberwell all other times

A carefully calibrated Tommy's Margarita delivered in a pill bottle may well cure whatever ails you. Bar None set itself the difficult task of creating a shelf-stable version of the refreshing drink that's heavily reliant on fresh lime juice, coming up with a clever blend of acids and citrus. Order by 9pm for same-day delivery Tuesday to Saturday.

1806 delivery 15km from CBD

This benchmark bar is bottling five of its signature drinks for home cocktail hour. Top pick is an Aussie take on the Old Fashioned made with Melbourne whisky Starward and Brookie's macadamia and wattleseed liqueur from Byron Bay. The team are also happy to take requests. Order before 3pm for same-day delivery.

Bouvardia delivery 5km from Windsor

While usually at home in the CBD, Bouvardia has decamped to sister venue The Woods in Windsor. Pick up a whisky highball tinnie for dad this weekend: the crew are doing singles or packs showcasing four different Victorian whiskys. Order by 6pm for same-day delivery.

The Notting Hill Hotel pick-up only

Locals can sail through Notting Hill pub's drive-through bottle-shop and collect an expertly mixed Cosmopolitan or margarita. You won't be the only one smiling: bottled cocktails create extra shifts for the hotel's 60-plus staff.

Romeo Lane delivery 20km from CBD

Life is three times better when you have three pouches of your favourite cocktail in the freezer. Daiquiris, martinis and margarita three-packs are available from the Romeo Lane online cart with the option to leave a Father's Day gift card. Order by 4pm for same day delivery.

Trouble in Dreams pick-up only

Cleverly packaged "Ikea-style" cocktails that require assembly at home. Swing past the Footscray bar for Hot and Sunny, a tropical holiday for your mouth that combines pineapple rum, ginger beer and habanero, or a Double-Double Martini, perfect to share between two.