We don’t say this often, but there’s nowhere in Melbourne like Bahama Gold, the tiny wine bar attached to larger restaurant Old Palm Liquor.
The venue launched during one of Melbourne’s many Covid lockdowns as a canteen-style bottle shop, with a counter opening directly onto the street. That unusual feature has stuck around, and the party spills right outside. Punters sitting on the footpath tables never need to set foot in the building to get a drink.
Sitting inside is never a bad choice, though. While there’s no DJ, and Bahama Gold doesn’t bill itself as a listening bar, it has all the right ingredients: an impeccable record collection, a vintage Luxman amplifier and several high-end Klipsch speakers. This gear – $80,000 worth, all up – makes every visit a pleasure.
Or is it the absurdly good value house wines, which have been as low as $10 a glass and $22 for a takeaway flagon? Co-owner Simon Denman makes them in collaboration with leading new-wave wineries such as Little Reddie and Koerner, and buys the entire vintage upfront. The finished wine is packaged into 30-litre kegs (far cheaper and more efficient than bottles) and freighted over to be poured from Bahama Gold’s taps alongside beers and more expensive natural wines. The staff also mix decent cocktails if you’re in that kind of mood.
Behind the bar, a chef works with dual induction cooktops and an oven to produce an ever-changing standalone menu that references flavours and techniques from Europe, Asia and South Africa (the homeland of co-owner and executive chef Almay Jordaan). And it’s not just small drinking snacks, like you might expect. Hand-rolled pastas, flatbreads, soups and tarts are all possibilities.
Wander beyond the front room and you’ll find an even smaller room full of humming wine fridges, people perusing them for takeaway bottles and a fireplace that’s lit during winter. And further on, through another doorway, you’re actually in Old Palm Liquor’s leafy side courtyard.
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