At the back of Odd Culture Fitzroy there’s a faded Melbourne Bitter mural that looks like it’s been there forever. It’s the sort of antique signwriting unearthed at Dr Morse, but actually the convincing work was recently painted by Bodie Jarman of El Oso Negro Sign Co. It’s fitting – Melbourne inspired the original Odd Culture bar and bottle shop in Newtown, Sydney.
“Fitzroy is like a spiritual home for us,” CEO James Thorpe told Broadsheet earlier this year, adding that the original Odd Culture in Newtown is based on “cool little drink-in bottle shops in Melbourne”.
As the name suggests, the Odd Culture team is into beers, wines and other drinks flavoured by funky yeasts and bacterial cultures. On shelves and in fridges you’ll find classic lambics and farmhouse ales from Belgian legends like Cantillon and Fantome, plus new-world sours from Texas’s Jester King and Sydney’s own Wildflower. For the bar’s opening, the 12 taps are pouring beers like Mountain Culture IPA and a sherry barrel-aged imperial stout from Estonian brewery Pohjala.
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Fitzroy is also mixing some of Odd Culture’s signature cocktails, like the sour Negroni with vermouth made from kriek (a tart, cherry-flavoured beer), and gaining some Melbourne-only ones, including In Cold Blood, made with Gospel rye whiskey, artichoke amaro and Saison vermouth. There’s no bottle list for wine. Instead, drinkers are invited to browse the shelves and fridges. The selection is mostly natural and minimal intervention, and there are a few choice picks from the esoteric French appellation of Jura, plenty of small Victorian producers, Japanese natural wineries and more.
Where Odd Culture Newtown operates like a restaurant, serving its Asian-tinged menu all day, that’s not the case here. In lieu of a kitchen, group executive chef James MacDonald has turned his attention to beer and wine-friendly snacks that lean on neighbourhood producers.
There’s sourdough from Baker Bleu with St David Dairy cultured butter. Odd Culture’s signature dish of chicken liver pate with house-made crisps and fish sauce-infused caramel here uses Chappy’s chips and Meatsmith, pate. (A former Broadsheet Sydney editor called the pate with caramel “next level” the first time she ate it). The butcher also supplies the duck and pistachio terrine.
As the spiritual home becomes physical for Odd Culture in Melbourne, the new venue seems destined to carve its own niche among the venues that inspired it.
Odd Culture Fitzroy
296 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Sun to Thu noon–11pm
Fri to Sat noon–1am