At the turn of the 20th century, the Southgate precinct (between Southbank and the Arts Centre) was an outdoor amusement park for sociable Melburnians. There was a circus, an ice-skating rink and even a waterslide.
A hundred years on, a modern cocktail bar has opened in honour of the giant water chute that once occupied the space.
Opened in June, Waterslide serves Kirin on tap, local and international wines, hard-to-find whiskies (such as a Rosebank 21 and Talisker 25) and original cocktails created by bartender Fred Siggins from Fitzroy’s Black Pearl, who is a consultant for the bar.
“We are making bright cocktails with interesting combinations and fresh fruits and herbs,” says Siggins. “Like the Glacerium, a combination of champagne – real stuff, not domestic sparkling – umeshu (Japanese liqueur), elderflower, blood-orange syrup and lemon verbena.” A small bar-snack menu features fish carpaccio and Cuban sandwiches.
Waterslide is owned by Lino Scidone, who has run the neighbouring Italian restaurant La Camera next door for 15 years.
"This is the only type of cocktail bar of its kind in Southbank," Scidone says. He expects to not only play host to theatre-goers passing through the Arts Precinct, but also residents in the nearby apartment towers.
“There are elements of 1950s Vegas, 1970s cruise ship and 1920s prohibition,” says Siggins.
“We’re drawing inspiration from the past, but it isn’t a themed bar. It’s a modern bar with drinks to suit everyone.”
26 Southgate Avenue, Southbank