No bar is an island. Take this drinking den and bottle shop, which nods to the story of Giorgio Rosa – who built a house on stilts in the Adriatic Sea in the ’60s before declaring it an independent state. The tale inspired owner Lachlan Gravier to establish his own utopia in Rose Island – a place for people to come, be themselves and do whatever they want to do.
Gravier’s venue channels a casual and generous hospitality. Staff mingle during service, new products are introduced daily and often sampled with guests, and dogs are allowed to hang out inside. At the back of the bar, there’s an intimate nook with a projector playing whatever sport Gravier feels like throwing on.
Guests are welcome to bring their own food, and many order in from the nearby eateries. Rose Island does have a kitchen, which – when Gravier can rope his chef mate into a shift – might offer dishes including steak, sausages and a small range of toasties with fillings like mapo tofu, chicken parfait, and prosciutto with wheat-beer-caramelised onions.
But beer is Gravier’s passion, and he’s curated an eclectic range. On tap, you’ll find limited-release craft brews like Lost in Translation – a Japanese-inflected Belgian quadrupel, infused with adzuki beans and kinako (roasted soybean powder) – from Glen Iris brewery Deeds, or the citrusy Eternal Sunshine hazy IPA from Sailor’s Grave in East Gippsland. At the front of the store, there’s a fridge full of cans, mostly Victorian. You can grab them takeaway or (for a small corkage fee per can) you can stay and drink them at the bar.
There are a few cocktails, too, including a coconut Margarita, as well as natural wines by the glass. Wines are displayed on shelves beneath a trio of Rose Island prints designed by CJ Wright, whose design studio, Looks Generous, has created spaces for Above Board, Capitano and The Everleigh.
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