At three years old I was gifted a trinket box by an aunt. There were painted floral patterns on the outside of the wooden chest, a tiny ballerina danced on the inside. Beethoven’s Für Elise played slowly, then in real time after I’d turn the dial.
At first, it held jewellery given to me at birth. By age nine it held plastic elastic bracelets that went past my elbow when worn all at once. By 13 years old, it no longer worked in my ultra-cool teenage room. It went into storage for safe keeping. Over the years it’s made an appearance at each spring clean. Now I haven’t seen it in a few years.
Enter Trinket Bar, to fill the trinket-shaped hole in my life. It’s an inconspicuous cocktail bar – formerly Mediterranean eatery Terra Rossa – lurking quietly on Flinders Lane. First, enter a tiny, velvet-padded room where you’ll find Gem the ballerina. Turn her dial to reveal the main entrance to the bar.
“She’s a little bit Black Swan-like – a little bit of a freak,” says executive chef Telina Menzies. “A lot of what we do is based around her and her personality.”
Inside, ornaments and charms embellish the Art Deco space. Tutu-inspired light fittings sit above the bar; there’s gold-gilded velvet furniture; and rows of jewellery boxes, candelabras and intricate vases add a touch of old-world charm. A life-size ferret is Menzies’s favourite feature.
A basement bar underneath is accessed through a Narnia-like wardrobe. Push aside the fur coats to reveal the hidden entrance. It’s luxe, with velvet curtain-covered walls, plush lounges and candlelit tables.
At the bar, choose from The Gem, Belvedere, Earl Grey tea, lemon, rosewater and bitters topped with prosecco; The Dark Lady, juniper-heavy Sipsmith VJOP gin, beetroot, raspberry, Dry Madeira sherry, lemon and egg white; or The Trinket Aviation, with blueberry-infused gin, lime, maraschino and violet liqueur.
Menzies says the food menu is secondary to drinks – this isn’t somewhere to sit down to dinner. “I call it, ‘gourmet snackery’,” she says.
Triple-cheese cigars come with smoked ash aioli and honey “pearls”, served in an ash tray; sweet-potato wedges come with bourbon sour cream, and fries are dusted with Aleppo pepper and served with truffle mayo. Flatbread made from 72-hour fermented dough comes alongside smoked tomato, buffalo mozzarella and basil.
“We kept a little bit of that Mediterranean vibe to the menu – a little bit of a nod to what the venue used to be,” says Menzies.
On weekends, Trinket Bar hosts boozy brunches. “Everything is dark and mysterious. We’ve got black macarons, witchy truffles and fudge,” Menzies says. “It’s definitely not the high tea where you take your grandma.”
87 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Mon to Wed 3pm–12am
Thu to Sun 12pm–1am
This article was first published on November 01, 2018. Menu items may have changed since publication.