This is undeniably Margot Robbie’s year. The actress smashed box office records with Barbie, launched a gin company, finally got a new stylist, inspired a fashion movement and was just named on Variety’s Power of Women List. But the most exciting thing in the Margot-verse to happen in 2023? Having a cocktail at new Lygon Street spot Maggie’s Snacks and Liquor named after her.

The Margot Robbie – a bubblegum-pink drink made using pistachio orgeat, mistelle from Victorian producer Rhubi, vodka, citrus and moscato grappa, served in a tall cocktail glass with a long and delicate stem – is just one of the cocktails listed at the bar and restaurant, which officially opens tonight in the former Alehouse Project space.

Between the two front rooms, outdoor courtyard and hidden back room, Maggie’s fits 120 guests. A clubhouse look is conjured by mid-century furnishings including couches and high tops, exposed brick, emerald-green-painted walls dotted with retro advertising posters and a warmly lit bar.

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The venue is run by a hospo supergroup assembled by managing director Kaidee Grzankowski. Her team includes industry legend Nathan Toleman (Square One Rialto, Lilac Wine Bar) as a partner and advisor – Grzankowski befriended Toleman after working for him at his cafe Apte 17 years ago. Executive chef is Pie Thief co-owner Scott Blomfield (ex-Supernormal), sous-chef is Jessica Spooner and beverage director is Alejandro Archibald (Lilac, Nomad Melbourne).

There are already plenty of places to get a good drink in Brunswick. “I could kick a football at Waxflower or Bar Romantica,” says Grzankowski. But Maggie’s Snacks and Liquor sets itself apart through its commitment to cocktails (although other alcoholic drinks like wine and beer are still available).

Archibald honours a couple of Aussie icons with his drinks. Alongside Robbie, Maggie’s offers a nod to a bakery classic with the Vanilla Slice Milk Punch – a drink served in a short glass that uses a whole passionfruit, whisky and clarified milk and comes served with a burnt vanilla and brioche garnish.

But Archibald’s pick is the Seasonal Cobbler, which at the moment is a honeydew cocktail made with Pennyweight apera from Beechworth, genmaicha and rum. The cocktail menu will continue to evolve and respond to what kitchen scraps the bar team can use. “We want to be as zero-waste as possible,” explains Archibald. “If the kitchen can’t use or has excess of something, they can give it to the bar and vice versa.”

As for snacks, Blomfield draws on flavours from his childhood in rural New Zealand. Find ika mata (a staple raw fish dish from the Cook Islands), pickled mussels with paraoa parai (Māori fry bread) and a “very Kiwi” vegan lasagne topper (Blomfield’s version of the popular NZ snack food produced by Four ‘N Twenty). “It’s a lasagne which has been crumbed and deep-fried,” says the chef. The Maggie’s version is made with three-mushroom ragu and a soy milk bechamel.

For dessert, there’s an apple shortcake recipe handed down from his mum and served with kiwifruit sorbet. But guests are also encouraged to sit and linger while they enjoy a cocktail or wine.

Maggie’s Snacks and Liquor
98/100 Lygon Street, Brunswick East
No phone

Hours:
Wed & Thurs 4pm–midnight
Fri & Sat 12pm–1am
Sun 12pm-midnight

@maggiessnacksandliquor