The three-level heritage building at 2 Mill Place, off Flinders Lane, has lived many lives since it was built in the 1840s. It’s been a soap and candle factory, a flour mill, home to the Flemington Meat Preserving Company and housed tea and clothing merchants. At the end of April, it will take on yet another life when a new bar, Mill Place Merchants, opens in the building.

The hidden laneway bar is being billed as a speakeasy. “Our aim is to fill the space with old and vintage pieces of furniture, steeped in history, style and sophistication to create an eclectic but stylish space that reflects the true feel of a New York prohibition speakeasy,” said director Paawan Engineer in a statement.

Guests will enter a space that looks like a “vintage” dressing room and access the bar through a hidden door covered by a full-length mirror. Inside they’ll find a long copper-topped bar and intimate nooks.

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The drinks menu was curated by Italian bartender Giancarlo Mancino, and will hark back to the early days of the cocktail, with nods to legendary bartenders including Harry MacElhone, who operated Harry’s Bar in Paris in the 1920s, and Jerry Thomas, an American bartender who published the first bar manual in 1862.

While Mill Place Merchants will be filled with old-timey charm, Engineer, who is also behind Cuff Food & Wine, said the bar is “not retro or old-fashioned, it’s original but pays homage to the classic”.

Mill Place Merchants is expected to open at 2 Mill Place, Melbourne at the end of April.