In a city flush with intimate cocktail bars, the problem is no longer finding somewhere to drink, but rather making the decision of where. Cue the opening of Loch and Key, the new cabin-in-the-woods complement to Captain Melville’s downstairs bar and restaurant. An area previously off-limits to the public when the pub operated as Miss Libertine, the rebuild took just eight weeks and has resulted in a unique and unpretentious format perfect for late night summer beverages.

Co-owner Jerry Poon says the idea behind Loch and Key was “to do something that was intimate but not unfriendly, with a focus on quality music,” and it is apparent that mission has been a success thus far. The bar fit out is modish, yet humble, with wood finishes and a few gentlemen’s club trimmings, but not so many as to seem a ‘boys club’. At the back, the “confessional” room plays host to two separate booths, for a more private experience – definitely second date material. The license enables trading hours of 3am on weekdays and 5am on weekends. Says Poon, “it’s a chilled-out space, but if people want to party, we’re cool with that.”

The cocktail menu is kept small, perhaps to showcase the knowledge and affability of their bartenders, led by bar manager, Sarah Miller. There are six to choose from but the bartender is more than keen to mix you a bespoke beverage based on your preferences, or you could just go with your choice of boutique beers and wines. Food offerings are simple and delicious, with the signature pork belly slider brought from downstairs, and the inclusion of nachos with homemade beef chilli, salsa and guacamole.

Perhaps the best feature of Loch and Key is its spacious balcony terrace, with a cityscape view. Sundays will see drink specials and a DJ playing relaxed tunes. With the warmth of summer sure to hit us soon, Loch and Key is well equipped for a decent holiday hangout.

Loch and Key
Level 1, 34 Franklin Street, Melbourne

Wed to Thurs 6pm-3am
Fri to Sat 6pm–5am
Sun 2pm-late