“Our goal was to have the best American whiskey selection in the country,” Fred Siggins tells Broadsheet of new bar Goodwater, which sits on High Street, Northcote. But with playful cocktails on tap, imported beers and an American bar snack menu, the new neighbourhood watering hole is more than just a spot for whiskey fans.

Far from a dive, Goodwater is a cosy bar that feels warm and familiar – like a local that’s always been there. Behind the heritage fronting you’ll find a space with warm light, high ceilings, huge windows flung open on sunny afternoons and a covered outdoor area at the back.

Named for an Algonquian word for the Mississippi River which translates to “great water”, Goodwater has some serious pedigree behind it. The opening team was brought together by Nate White (Bar Margaux) around a year ago and includes Fred Siggins (Whisky and Alement, The Black Pearl), Cara Devine (Bomba), April Hudson (The Keys), John Hallett (The Everleigh), Yao Wong (The Elysian) and Kia Rasteh (of whisky retail site Honey Barrel).

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When you enter, framed maps tracing the winding Mississippi River are hung along the exposed brick walls and lead you to the curved wooden bar that sits beneath towering rows of Goodwater’s specialty – American whiskey. Goodwater has the classic big names of American and American-style whiskies, but also newer craft distilleries like Redwood, special bottlings (including a 1972 Jim Beam in a ceramic bottle decorated with ducks) and experimental releases, like the Peerless Rye finished in an absinthe cask. Whiskey geeks will spot the heavy hitters – like an Old Forester 86 Proof from the 1980s, a 1990 Old Grand-Dad Bottled in Bond, and the new Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged bourbon.

“Even though some of these bottles are worth thousands at auction, we’ve priced everything to be accessible – we want people to drink it, not look at it!” Siggins says.

Currently there’s a 10-year-old George Dickel from 1997 that you can’t find for sale anymore, and is $35 a nip. “You don’t have to be a whiskey lover to enjoy the place, but if you are it blows your mind,” he adds.

For cocktails, Goodwater focuses on different flavour profiles like peach and tarragon, offering three versions of each profile – a boozy option, served in a short glass on ice or in a coupe; a longer and lower ABV version, typically lengthened with juice or a carbonated beverage; and a non-alc option.

The food menu perfectly fits the American bar vibe. “We’re bringing in more left of field flavours,” Siggins says. “Basically, hyper-regional American food, presented through a craft cocktail bar and Melbourne lens.”

That means crinkle-cut fries with Old Bay Seasoning and smoked oyster aioli, shrimp po’ boys (a Louisiana-style sandwich), deep-fried pickle chips, French onion grilled cheese sandwiches and classic artichoke and spinach dip.

Beside the backbar, a baby blue Smeg fridge has been converted to dispense two drinks on tap: a Nitro Espresso Martini, with a recipe from Ryan Chetiyawardana of now-shuttered famed London bar White Lyan; and the house cruiser “Badwater” – a rotating special that features seasonal fruit flavours (currently on offer is a watermelon and garam masala cruiser).

Beers include bottles of imported American brands like Miller High Life and Coors, and a tap selection of Australian brews in American styles like The Mill lager, Watts River IPA and Molly Rose pale ale. The wine selection features Australian drops from Yugen, Hey Tomorrow and Unico Zelo.

“Everyone’s just trying to have fun with it all,” Siggins says. “We want it to be really high quality, but still engaging and sometimes tongue-in-cheek.”

Goodwater
300 High Street, Northcote
No phone

Hours:
Wed &Thurs 5pm–1am
Fri & Sat, 5pm–2am
Sun 5pm–11pm

goodwater.melbourne