Cocktail and wine bar Black Kite Commune takes inspiration from Melbourne’s boisterous 20th-century supper clubs. For owner Ben Luzz, paying tribute to the past is an ongoing theme – here and across his other venues Gin Palace, Bar Ampere and Bijou Bottle Store.

Jess Clayfield (ex-Gin Palace) is behind the synaesthetic cocktail menu, which she jotted down after watching an orchestra play Beethoven’s fifth. The centrepiece is Raspberry, a cocktail combining Pisco, rose-tea-infused verjuice, gooseberry syrup and a rhubarb-flavoured aperitif. Triumph plays with symphony dynamics, a citrusy crescendo built on status symbol ingredients like tepache (a fermented drink of pineapple, a fruit that was associated with wealth and luxury in the past), Armagnac and a Meyer lemon, and champagne vinegar shrub.

The free-flowing spirits of Luzz’s supper club fantasy skew towards rare Australian examples. There’s brandy from Sullivan’s Cove, Archie Rose whisky aged in Maidenii vermouth barrels, and pechuga, a meat-infused agave spirit from Black Snake Distillery.

The menu sits somewhere between pre-theatre snacks and late-night pick-me-ups. On the smaller side you might find wild boar croquettes with fresh apple, and king prawns with garlic oil and lemon myrtle, while the venison and beef burger with Pyengana Dairy cheddar will do it for those sitting on the cocktails a little while longer.

The Michael Delaney-designed space into feels something like a black and brooding bird cage, tempered by the light of double-high front windows, a night-sky ceiling fixture and a curved golden back bar. The idea of the dark colour scheme is to let drinkers slot into the background, particularly on the subtle mezzanine floor. Black Kite Commune is table service only, but airline-style service buttons upstairs make it easy to stay settled in.

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Updated: November 21st, 2023

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