In a backstreet of East London there’s a hidden laboratory called the Drink Factory. It’s visited by leading chefs, perfumers, scientists, chocolatiers, even designers, who are called in to inspire some of the world’s most pioneering mixed drinks. This is where the beverages for Melbourne’s Dinner by Heston Blumenthal are invented.
It is run by renowned drinks creator Tony Conigliaro (owner of London’s 69 Colebrooke Row and Bar Termini, and author of award-winning book Drinks). Conigliaro visited Melbourne earlier this month to tweak Dinner’s drinks menu. Why? It’s opening the bar to walk-ins.
Until now, Conigliaro’s cocktails were only available to guests with dinner reservations. Now from 10pm every night you can roll in to order his crystal-clear Bloody Mary, or knock back a glass of his 1850s-inspired parsnip or apricot fruit wine.
Old-world English drinks that reference sailors beset by scurvy, Charles Dickens and British shrubs open the menu. Subtle Australian influences – Tasmanian apples, eucalyptus, olive leaf – provide twists on the classics, such as the Martini and Gimlet.
“We wanted the menu to embrace the theme of journey, particularly those taken from England to Australia in the days of settlement,” says Conigliaro. “In a sense that makes it relatively simple to balance [the menu], as there is a defined start and finish.”
Closing the menu, and showcasing Conigliaro’s commitment to incorporating a native tone, is the Terrior Barossa. Flint, fern and clay vodkas are blended together, finished with a touch of sandstone sugar (a sugar made with resin and vanilla) and diluted to a sipping strength.
“The result is a delicate drink that has mineral yet warm flavours, giving the impression of Australian terroir,” explains Conigliaro.
Drinks aside, the combination of attentive service and views of the skyline (as well as pineapples spit-roasting behind the kitchen window) is a compelling reason to have a nightcap unlike any other in the city.
The bar at Dinner by Heston is now open from 10pm to 12am every night of the week.
Dinner by Heston
Crown Towers Melbourne, 130/8 Whiteman Street, Southbank
(03) 9292 5779