Despite its name, St Kilda’s newest drinking den, Misery Guts, is anything but. “Misery Guts is a nickname that my dad has for me,” says owner Julia Pleadin. “I like it. It’s a bit macabre, but it’s also tongue-in-cheek. It just sort of fits.”
Lyrics by the late, great Gil-Scott Heron are on the wall (Met a woman in a bar/ told her I was hard to get to know/ near impossible to forget …). Below them is a framed, instructional Heimlich-manoeuvre poster. A vintage, cotton police banner threatens: “Disperse or we use tear smoke”.
The website is just a whole lot of Bill Murray clips. Kitsch and quirky ornaments, propaganda and other souvenirs collected during Pleadin’s years abroad decorate the bright, high-ceilinged space. There’s a mismatch of chairs and tables, including two old cinema chairs with the words “Misery loves company” scrawled across them. A blue, mosaic-tiled patch of floor is leftover from the site’s days as a Greek restaurant. The vault, leftover from the site’s days as a bank, is now the bathroom.
Despite so much tongue in cheek, it still manages to be a serious bar. Pleadin, the daughter of publicans, knows what she’s doing. “I just really wanted to open a watering hole, just a bar. I didn’t want a novelty factor built in. I’ve always been a little bit wacky, a little quirky. I like things that are not the norm. This aesthetic reflects that,” she says.
Pleaden explains she, “wanted to open something that the locals can appreciate”. There’s a lot for backpackers, and a lot at the other end of the scale, such as the St Hotel. “But there’s nothing to just come and have a nice drink at,” she says.
All the tap beers are Australian (Coopers, 4 Pines and the like) and are almost due for a seasonal change. Packaged beers are mostly Australian, and include less common varieties such as saisons and praline porters. There’s a short but interesting selection of wines, and nine classic cocktails.
There’s no kitchen, so food is limited to cheese and charcuterie, pickles, anchovies, olives and nuts. On weekends, there are oysters shucked to order, plus anything else Pleadin feels like putting on, based on what’s fresh at the market.
A smaller room near the front is currently being converted into a cosy lounge space, with an open fireplace and leather couch. It will open in the next week or so.
19 Grey Street, St Kilda
(03) 8590 6431
Fri and Sat 2pm–1am