With the summer heat definitely upon us, there’s little better than spending a quiet afternoon with friends enjoying a few cold drinks, and in Australia we’re really spoiled for choice – and not just when it comes to beverage selection. The last few years have seen an explosion in exciting and charming bar design; from speakeasy taverns to upmarket cocktail bars, there are plenty to choose from when it comes to wetting your design whistle.
With this in mind, here are Habitus’ top 5 examples of places to grab a cold one and drink in some great bar design…
Opening just last year, the Jackalope luxury hotel on the Mornington Peninsula has already earned acclaim for its world-class food and design, featuring dark timber floors, black leather banquettes and a 10,000 piece light installation from Melbourne-based artist Jan Flook. But the hotel isn’t the end of the story.
Since 1876, the majestic Edwardian McCormick House has stood majestically at the foot of Jackalope’s meandering driveway. Now, the house has been reborn as the hotel’s bar, Flaggerdoot, and stands as an enduring reminder of the history of the impossibly gorgeous property.
Its current incarnation revels in the chemical process of distillation; an experimental spirit stirring the bold cocktail menu, offering up a mix of classics and unique in-house creations. The space itself is a playful mix of design forms, seeing classic herringbone floors and open fires warming the room, positioned alongside edgy installations and a one-off electric blue pool table, creating a sense of curated-cool.
Woolly Mammoth Alehouse
This self-described prehistoric beast of a bar is one of Brisbane’s more interesting bar openings in recent years. Part of the ‘meet and eat’ venue culture (or should that be ‘meat and eat’?), the Woolly Mammoth Alehouse offers multi-purpose experiential spaces, live music, a range of mouth-watering fare and craft tap beer – even paying homage to its namesake with a full-sized woolly mammoth replica.
Internal bar design has a real prehistoric cave aesthetic, with stonewalls and artificial plants spilling from various nooks and crannies whereas upstairs is more of a jungle. In a former life the building was home to the Mustang Bar but now, as Woolly Mammoth, guests can enjoy food and drinks at the three venues in the space, including live music at the Mane Stage, craft beers and shuffleboard in the Alehouse, and indoor bocce and giant Jenga at the astro-turfed Garden Bar.
Good bar design should be reflective of the idiosyncrasies of its location and guests while having the flexibility and timelessness to adapt as needed. The Milton in the inner Melbourne bayside suburb Elwood nails this for its community-minded, and design savvy, demographic.
When designing the space, the team at Biasol were invested in the community to the point where local residents and patrons helped pinpoint the precise sort of venue that “Elwood needed” The Milton to be. A quality akin to “the refinement of an up-market restaurant but with a more understated urban feel” in its carriage is omnipresent in The Milton’s wine bar and complimentary food offer. Retention of the original building’s front façade and restoration of the internal original brick walls evoke a sense of familiarity for the locals. And while the timber clad, visually impactful extension intends to take patrons on a journey, its pitched roof and fireplace, could just as well be a new addition to an Elwood living room.
The Flour Factory
Perth’s Flour Factory is an inner-city public house spread across three floors of an actual hundred-year-old flour mill! Alongside cocktails, beers, wines and the Perth CBD’s largest gin and fortified wine collection, The Flour Factory offers the latest in contemporary bar design, modern Australian cuisine using fresh and local produce, served with a little Spanish twist.
Including both a bakery and butchery – taking charcuterie and “share food” to new levels – designing a space that’s not only suitable but also aesthetically cohesive would be a potentially tricky ask, but the design of the bar oozes charm. Inspired by the special design of New York delis and the aesthetics of a Spanish bodega turned cocktail bar, the Flour Factory is a welcoming but unique addition to the Perth bar scene. Plus, in the summer months, a rooftop bar will let guests enjoy the sun and take in those lovely late evening sunsets.
The Sydney Harbour is one of the most iconic locales in the country and what better place to enjoy it, than on it! Opening just a few years ago, Seadeck is a venue truly worthy of the beautiful harbour it resides on. Designed by AZBcreative, the bar-boat / grand cruiser (with bespoke fittings and finishes) offers a twist on classic nautical design, bringing the style and elegance of Riviera bar design to Sydney.
Curated decorations and refreshing palm trees add to a fun retro vintage Lido vibe while still allowing a lush, VIP style experience in the design. But a largely outdoor, on the water bar poses a suite of challenges in the design process; from wind to rain, let alone the harsh summer sun, a lot needs be the accounted for. For the reveller though, this process will be of little concern, as the result it a unique, safe and fully curated experience. While boozing it up on a boat sounds potentially messy – a nightclub this is not, it’s a catered and specific throwback to the Golden Age of Hollywood – offering impeccable service, beautiful food and nice drinks.