Peaches bar review

The rooftop has a Hamptons-esque vibe.
The rooftop has a Hamptons-esque vibe. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

301 Swanston St Melbourne, VIC 3000

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Opening hours Mon-Thu 4pm-1am, Fri-Sat noon-3am
Features Outdoor seating, Bar, Licensed
Payments eftpos, AMEX, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 03 9994 8582

Those looking for a cohesive plot at Peaches are missing the point. The new, two-level bar above barbecue restaurant Cheek on Swanston Street appears to have adopted "stuff we like" as its main theme, making it almost impossible to discern what it is trying to achieve. The short answer is probably fun, but that might depend on whether a sense of order is important to you.

Peaches' main bar is a vision in 1980s pastels. There are peach-coloured walls, pink suede banquettes and horseshoe booths, fixed stools upholstered in mint green around terrazzo-topped communal tables, clusters of pink lights in the centre of the room and a large mirror ball hanging over the bar.

You order but can't sit at the bar, which is just as well, given the level of disorder back there. It's a free-for-all of unpacked boxes of fruit, plastic containers of berries and petals in precarious stacks and cluttered workspaces, all crying out for some coherent storage. The clutter makes the quality of the drinks that emerge from it almost heroic.

The main bar downstairs is a vision in 1980s pastels.
The main bar downstairs is a vision in 1980s pastels. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

Upstairs on the rooftop, you're whisked from the set of a Duran Duran video to a Gwyneth Paltrow-esque Hamptons vibe with timber decking, whitewashed brick walls, white umbrellas and benches lined with white cushions. The white-tiled bar is less chaotic than the one downstairs, possibly due to the rooftop cocktail list offering a simpler, spritz-and-stirred-drinks approach.

Full marks for the drinks, both up and down. The lists show a dedication to originality that mostly pays dividends, like with the rooftop's Ol' Natural, a refreshing, punchy combination of pet-nat and blood orange liqueur.

Downstairs, the cocktail list adds another layer to the Peaches story with the drinks divided, for reasons unknown, into musical genres.

The Lucky Strike whisky cocktail.
The Lucky Strike whisky cocktail. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

It's fitting that the powerful, smoky, expensive and ungarnished Lucky Strike, a mix of peated and unpeated whiskies mixed with chocolate bitters and a whiff of vanilla syrup, is listed under Heavy Metal. Not for the faint-hearted, it's an angry bouncer of a drink compared with the frivolity of some of the others in categories like '90s Pop ("It's Britany (sic) Bitch" – sloe gin with basil and raspberries) or the thirst-quenching peach tea, vermouth and soda "Let's Get Physical" from the Disco section.

Elsewhere the drinks list leans politely natural with wine and, with beer, favours local heroes like Hawkers lager and La Sirene Citray Sour on tap.

There's a limited snack menu of fried chicken sandwiches, tofu sandwiches, crinkle-cut chips and sweet-and-sour cauliflower but those with greater hunger can pop downstairs to sibling restaurant Cheek for its Chinese, Korean and American take on barbecue.

Fried chicken sandwich with yuzu mayo.
Fried chicken sandwich with yuzu mayo. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

Peaches' scattergun approach to form and function has the ability to divide, especially if the colour pink sets your teeth on edge. But it also knows how to mix good drinks and good times, with an attractive rooftop to match. Stick your head in – you'll discern pretty quickly if it's for you.

Martini Meter: 3/5
A solidly constructed, well chilled mix of rateable Melbourne Moonshine gin and Dolin dry vermouth. Half a point off for substandard olives ($20).

Go-to Dish: Fried chicken sandwiches served until the wee hours. Hits all the right fatty, salty, crunchy notes at a budget price ($7-$10).