If you’ve ever imagined curling up by a fireplace with a good book and a whiskey, Melbourne is about to deliver. Buck Mulligan’s, a boutique whiskey bar, bookshop and cafe, is opening in Northcote next month.
Named after the iconic Ulysses character, the venue is a long-time dream of owner Eamonn Hennessy.
“It’s a good mix, isn’t it?” Hennessy says. “People love having a drink while they’re reading.”
Hennessey is from Dublin and he plans to stock the largest selection of Irish whiskies in Melbourne, along with “the best of the rest” from Scotland, Japan, Tasmania and the US. These will sit nicely with the 500 or so Irish and Australian book titles on the shelves.
“I’ve been working a lot with whiskey over the last few years and that's been due to the huge resurgence in Irish whiskey," Hennessey says. He explains he’s “always worked in hospitality”, but this is his first venture as an owner.
The bookshop is being built around a fireplace at the back of the bar, with a smaller room or “little snug” for whiskey tastings, book signings and readings. This area leads through into a courtyard.
“It’s very traditional in Irish pubs to have books but they tend to be locked away behind glass … so I basically turned that on its head,” he says.
Hennessy says the old building has a lot of “natural character” already, featuring exposed brick, a reclaimed Tasmanian Ash bar top and polished concrete floors. A cafe menu served until late will include cheeseboards, smoked salmon and black pudding.
Now within a month of opening, Hennessy says he’s being “inundated” with calls from people eager to host their book club at the venue.
“There’s a lot of interest … Melbourne is a very much a literary city and we want to engage with that as much as we can. We want to be involved in Bloomsday [a global; celebration of Irish novelist James Joyce’s life and Ulysses), and writer festivals and we want to support local writers as well.”
Buck Mulligan’s will open in mid to late November.
Buck Mulligan’s: Irish Whiskey and Literature Specialists
217 High Street, Northcote