The little cocktail bar that attracts international accolades and still serves mum's homemade sausage rolls reopened last Friday after a major refurb, its first in 13 years.
"We outgrew the bar," says Tash Conte, who owns the Black Pearl with her brother and parents. "The fitout is more mature," she says, with banquette seating instead of couches.
In 2002 a bar was no place for a couch, but if it were going to happen anywhere it would be on Brunswick Street. Back then, buskers peppered the street and you could smoke while sipping a blue daiquiri. "Drinking is coming back to being fun," says Conte. "It got all serious and bespoke for five or six years."
How does a Fitzroy family-owned bar with a teenaged fitout become one the world's 50 best bars, and win best international high-volume cocktail bar at Tales of the Cocktail, the Oscars of bar awards? "There's no method," says Conte. "Being family oriented is key (you're not a number), but also to deliver what you want as a customer: you want fresh, care and love."
Conte says of the Pearl after the refit: "She is quite different, but still warm."
Open daily 5pm-3am; 304 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, 9417 0455 , blackpearlbar.com.au
Disclaimer: Fairfax food writer Gemima Cody's partner works at Black Pearl.