Did you know that, currently, over 17, 000 Australians are potentially being more holistic, more charitable, and… wait for it… more sober than you?
Yes friends, you heard it here. Good health and saintliness has again snuck up on us faster than you can say 'GOOP'. The one, the only, Dry July has begun. But before you scoff and bust out your tinnies and modestly priced sav blancs as a protest to all cheekily-named months forcing you to give up your favourite beverages, let us gently remind you that this one's for a good cause.
A Quick DJ 101: Dry July was launched in 2008, and raises funds for cancer sufferers and their families. Incredibly, Dry July has raised over 11 million dollars for cancer patients in hospitals across Australia in the few years they've been around. For a nation that has more of an affinity with the actors in a Carlton Draft ad than the Prime Minister, that's a lot of unsold Passion Pop.
However, though Dry July is for charity, a lot of people find it exceptionally difficult giving up booze as it can suffocate their social calendar.
So, being the charitable and (occasionally) sober souls we are, we've decided to provide those of you partaking in Dry July (or for those of you who like pretty drinks minus the buzz) with a list of places that will not only cater for your month-long pledge, but also appeal to your non-Dry friends. Cheers!
After The Tears
Sometimes you just have to go out for a drink. You just have to. After The Tears is one of those places you just have to go get a drink at. It's a huge open dining hall, with quirky furnishings and dim lighting. Think mint coloured bar stops, brothel-esque chandeliers and 18th century prints of Russian diplomats on every wall. It's as though owner Andrzej Kaczmarski stumbled across a secret Polish dungeon in the heart of Elsternwick and proceeded to turn it into an incredibly cool place to swill vodka before you hit the cinema next door.
Though your friends are coming for the list of over 150 types of vodka that have all been given equally desirable names (clink your chinks to a 'lack of conscience' or a 'high-maintenance girlfriend'), you will be here because of their lovely mocktail list. You won't even feel like you're missing out on the real deal as After Tears have virginised some of the all-time classic cocktails – something you will rarely find elsewhere.
Enjoy a tropical infusion of pineapple juice and fresh lime, muddled and shaken with an egg white that'll take you back to morning-tea Splices. Or perhaps you're not big on being a fruit ninja and want to embrace your inner artist with the Andy Warhol – a blend of chocolate, white chocolate and passionfruit that will satisfy any standards of indulgence. And if you somehow get tired of the long list of liquids, there's Polish fodder on offer – think perogis, blintzes and all types of Polish tapas.
Where: After The Tears | 9b Gordon Street in Elsternwick
Contact: 03 9523 0969
Red Spice Road
One of the more common dilemmas of the Dry July partaker is going out for dinner. As your friends get rosy around the T-zone by the end of the entrees, you're happy swilling Diet Coke for the moment, but there are only so many more of those you can take before osteoporosis or chronic belching ensues.
Never fear, Red Spice Road has your dinner drinks covered. This CBD hangout is one of the most coveted South East Asian-style dining experiences in Melbourne. It's all about community here, with communal tables, share-specific dishes and a delicious list of beverages, all lending themselves to spending more in their mood-lit halls.
If the thought of sinking your teeth into chilli salt lamb ribs with pineapple tamarind dipping sauce has got you salivating, accompany it with a 'Berry Me' – a delightful concoction of fresh blueberries, raspberries and blackberries muddled with thai basil and cranberry juice, all garnished with mint sugar.
Or maybe you'd like to wash down those food-coma-inducing crispy duck legs with pancakes, cucumber, coriander and gingered chilli sauce with a 'Peaches and Co.' – fresh pink grapefruit with blood orange puree, laced with chilled fruit tea and coconut syrup.
After the mains you might just do the rest of the year dry after all.
Where: Red Spice Road | 27 McKillop St in Melbourne
Contact: 03 9603 1601
Nervous about a hot date? No worries! Take the edge of with a glass of… oh. That's where you're a little bit stuck. That notorious love monster that reeks of nerves and rushed sentences generally can't be quelled with a cup of tea or glass of water.
So, you've got to ensure that you sizzling date is full of original conversations and delicious scenery, all to distract from that raging heartbeat of yours. Surely a stroll along the Yarra should sort you out and distract your hottie from wanting a drink! Nope, no chance, you've just strolled into the big old liver of Melbourne city, Southbank. A plethora of bars, restaurants and clubs all wait for you to whet your whistle.
But if you can convince your new Joe Blow to walk a little bit further, you'll stumble into a mocktail maverick's delight – Blondie. Screaming good taste and better manners, Blondie Bar is a refreshing breather from the hustle and bustle of Southbank with her dark-wooded tables, black ceramics and manicured staff. We recommend grabbing a seat at the bar so you can down fresh pink lemonade, while he grabs a brew. Though he'll probably be 'Blindie' at the end of the night, their delicious drinks menu will have you singing praises.
Where: Blondie Bar | 31 Sturt Street in Southbank
Contact: 03 9686 3389
It can get a bit depressing looking at drinks list after drinks list and not seeing the mocktail list. Or, when you finally do get to the mocktail list, it's about as extensive as a Shirley Temple and a virgin Mary. You want your beverage to taste like the thing you love, miss and adore, not to ask for a brownie and get a fruit salad!
So, if you've exhausted all options and don't even want to think about spending the majority of your night scanning a menu, St. Kilda's Robarta is where you are carting your barstool to tipple. What you've got here is two floors of club life with equally appealing nooks and crannies for private canoodling, as well as epic disco-enticing dancefloors, ready for fist pumping and drink spilling. It's as though this place descended from the nunnery, caught a whiff of the nightlife, and appropriately threw themselves behind the kegs and pours, with every single devilish cocktail on their menu available in mocktail form.
But that isn't where it stops at Robarta. They're renowned for their delicious Asian-inspired tapas menu and hip-hopping nightlife, with local DJ's and artists spinning and singing and sipping alongside you every night of the week. If you pump yourself so full of sugary fizzy drinks that you feel as though you're ready for time travel, they're open till 7am, so you've got your bases covered, friend.
Where: Robarta | 109-111 Fitzroy Street in St Kilda
Contact: 03 9534 9041
Though those were the best for an original mocktail, here are some other places that'll make you something delicious.
Father's Office (perfect for work lunches)
Where: 249 Little Lonsdale Street in Melbourne
Caz Reitop's Dirty Secrets (for when the weather's warmer)
Where: 80 Smith Street in Collingwood
Contact: (03) 9415 8876
Campari House (when you're feeling rich and fancy)
Where: 23 - 25 Hardware Lane in Melbourne
Contact: 03 9600 1574
Long Grain (to take your parents out)
Where: 44 Little Bourke Street in Melbourne
Contact: 03 9671 3151
Image Credit: Brandsmart