he talented and dedicated entourage that run Vernon Chalker’s already impressive empire (Madame Brussels, Collins Quarter, Gin Palace) have come together to create yet another uniquely themed and creatively ingenious venue.
Taking their cues from the futurism movement which swept through Paris and Italy at the turn of the 20th century, they have managed to create a themed venue that is decidedly more grown up than their other offerings, but by no means any less whimsical or exciting: the era in which technology, flight and speed began to dictate art and architecture. The abundance of raw brick and steel lends itself as much to this theme as it does to the venue’s proximity to the huge sub station that is its neighbour.
The venue is also very Parisian in its product, with an outdoor alcove seating area for you to watch workers pass by in the alleyway while sipping on your espresso, should it be 7.30am, or perhaps finishing the night with a pastis just before closing at 3am. The food offerings range from small breakfast fare to generous bar snacks, which are on offer at all hours. Suddenly your options for late night snacking in a European style just got a little broader.
The drinks list includes a strong line-up of European aperitifs and digestives, with a heavy presence of vermouth, amaro and absinthe. The wine list is a concise detailing of good and great French varietals with very reasonable prices by the glass.
And that should really conclude an introduction to Bar Ampere. However, somehow, Chalker’s streaming, creative, hyper-conscious mind spawned a completely disconnected room that makes this bar a little magical. Walking past the bathroom, along a creaking porch, you step down into what can only be described as a New Orleans bayou. Dimly lit by only fairy lights, this undulating terrain (featuring a bar cut from a disused piano) is a refuge for enlightenment. With not much more than bourbon on offer, you can sink into a cane rocking chair, sip a julep from a tin and practice your southern drawl.
If you find you’re not in the mood for a pastis followed by a bourbon, you can exit through the secret rear door. You’ll be transport squarely into the middle of sister venue Gin Palace for a stirred martini and a sense that you just stepped out of the rabbit hole.
16 Russell Place, Melbourne
(03) 9663 7557
Daily 12pm-3am (this week)
Daily 8am-3am (from next week)