While Adelaide’s bar scene has resumed close-to-normal trading conditions, the steep rise in Covid-19 cases in Melbourne means Victorian venues are once again subject to strict restrictions. So Ollie Margan, managing partner at Maybe Mae, has thought up a way to help neighbouring operators from afar.

Starting August 16, “Melbourne, Maybe?” will transform Maybe Mae into a different Melbourne bar every Sunday night for six weeks, from the drinks list to the playlist. All of the money raised will go to the respective bars involved.

“All of these venues have started doing cocktails as retail,” says Margan. “So we thought, let’s elevate that: let’s buy a heap of drinks off them, and then let’s serve it in a bar aesthetic, with table service, cold glassware and big ice cubes.”

Each bar will supply Maybe Mae with a drinks list, a playlist and 100 takeaway cocktails (which Maybe Mae will buy upfront). Maybe Mae will provide the labour and perishable ingredients (such as lemon and lime juice and garnishes), and will serve the drinks in-house.

The six bars involved are Black Pearl (the first cab off the rank), Above Board, Byrdi, Capitano, The Everleigh and Romeo Lane.

Further details are still to be announced, but Margan says the chosen bars represent a good cross-section of Melbourne’s bar scene.

“The drinks will be varied,” he says. “A bar like Byrdie – they’re very cutting-edge, high-concept, high-technique; they have very local and produce-driven drinks. Then there’s the Capitano, which is a bit more Italian and aperitif in their drinks style [and] The Everleigh, which is the benchmark of classic cocktail culture.”

With Maybe Mae now able to trade at close to 75 per cent of its capacity, Margan says helping other bars almost feels like a “duty of care”.

“I very much have a personal relationship with the people that operate [these venues],” he says. “I think the Australian bar industry – whether directly or indirectly – owes a lot to Melbourne in terms of paving the way for recognition and success, and creating what is the brand of Australian bar service and drink style. We certainly feel an attachment.”

Melbourne, Maybe? will take place at Maybe Mae on Sundays from August 16 to September 20.