Der Raum have just celebrated their 10-year anniversary. A visit to the bar reveals that it’s like visiting a child who has everything: a sous-vide machine, liquid nitrogen, that fancy hanging-bottle art installation. So what do you get a spoiled child that has everything? A new bar of course.
A tiny space formerly occupied by Pushka cafe, located at the end of Presgrave Place, houses this new gift, named Bar Americano.
The visionary Matt Bax has partnered with Matt Rees, a long-term member of the Der Raum team, to bring this concept to life. And a solid concept it is at that. Taking cues from the “American bars” that played host to US travellers who navigated the pond to Europe in the dark years of Prohibition for a taste of the sweet ol’ liquor, this venue promotes a tribute as much as it does a concept.
All-day trade will see the team stray into unfamiliar territory, with a solid food offering and a profound attempt to encourage the espresso culture that dominates coffee drinking in Europe. Anyone who’s travelled through Italy will recall the espresso bars where you lay down your 20 euro cent tip, knock back your espresso and then carry on with your day. We can only hope that Melbourne’s third-wave coffee cohorts are ready for life with milk-free caffeine injections.
There’s no real need to draw the allusion to ‘weaning them off milk’, but I’m going there anyway. And I hope Bar Americano’s dedication to the concept, and their custom espresso blend, helps to pave the way for a new coffee culture. Dare I say it, a bit like our beloved Pellegrini’s; only better.
Their list of culinary collaborators extends to such luminaries as Burch & Purchese and Ben Shewry of Attica, so there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that the food will be of an extremely high standard. Food offered throughout the day will become free plates from 4pm to 6pm in a shameless attempt to lure the office workers from their high-rise cubicles. A focus on fresh, simple, European-styled dishes can be counted on to provide the perfect accompaniment to whatever you’re drinking at the given time of day.
The aperitivo culture in Europe is something that’s growing in popularity and understanding, and will form a large part of the offering from Bar Americano. In addition to the bittered palate cleansers that define aperitif classics, we can be assured that the offering will focus on fresh ingredients, stirred down with a dash of wizardry and innovation.
Considering the space, however, you can forgive Matt and Matt for leaving all their other toys at home and instead focusing on delivering a quality product to the finite number of patrons that can fill it at any one time. Their passion for creating bitters that have been lost to the sands of time will no doubt be relevant in the delivery of the drinks here. For the cocktail geeks, they won’t disappoint and for the common drinker, they’ll be sure to amaze.
If it were anyone else, it would be easy to dismiss the concept, snigger at the stupidity of taking on too much and laugh at their imminent demise. But something tells me that these two Matts are giving birth to yet another game changer. Further, this is set to be the venture that drags Melbourne from its current cocktail doldrums and sees us regain our rightful place on the world cocktail scene.