In a very different setting from South Africa’s original shebeens and after years of pop-ups and fundraising, Australia’s first not-for-profit bar has settled down permanently in Melbourne’s Manchester Lane.
Along with the inspiration for the bar's name, the bar’s South African roots grow deep. Venue manager Sharon Custers is from South Africa, while co-director and brains behind the initiative Simon Griffiths also spent some formative years there working on aid projects based around makeshift housing. The staff are knowledgeable and passionate about the charity organisations Shebeen supports and their enthusiasm is infectious.
When a bartender at Shebeen hands you a drink, not only are they putting a few dollars towards the development of that beverage's country of origin, they're also handing over a piece of local produce and invitation for discussion.
All the food and cocktails on the menu are inspired by the 11 developing countries being supported through the initiative. Shabeena Colada cocktails are served up in faux pineapple shakers, coats are hung on colourful lobster-shaped hooks and stools are covered in printed fabrics from Kenya.
Every element of this quirky beach-style bar with a social conscience is just a happy, colourful slice of culture.