With a decree of no Creed and no Matchbox 20, new CBD dive bar Heartbreaker already sounds— quite literally—like music to our ears. The Everleigh's little sister is now running wild on the corner of Lonsdale and Russell, in what was once the far kitschier Mai Tai.
Two of Melbourne's most influential barmen Michael Madrusan (The Everleigh) and Sebastian Reaburn (Bacardi ambassador, ex-Vue de Monde, ex-1806) are the head heartbreakers here. Like many good stories, it all began with a Led Zepplin song. Michael was prepping for a Saturday shift at The Ev when inspiration struck, "what about a bar where every song that came on you were just like 'fuck I love this song!' every time?" Expect to hear Led Zep's 'Black Dog' played on repeat, alongside the sounds of T-Rek and the Rolling Stones rolling from the obligatory juke box.
Photos of similar ‘70s rockstars line the wood-panelled walls here. As at many a good dive—Ye Rustic Inn, Ye Coach & Horses and NYC's Motor City in particular were inspirations—there's a worn-in pool table, stools run the length of the stud and leather-clad bar and vintage beer signs espouse Pabst Blue Ribbon and Miller time accent the joint. And let's just say visiting the bathroom is an "adventure". Heartbreaker is the kind of space that would have been filled with cigarette smoke in decades past. But one must remember that this is The Everleigh's version of a dive bar so it was never going to be entirely down and dirty. Says Michael, "the flashier parts are taken from downtown L.A; places like Tony's Saloon or Golden Gopher." At Heartbreaker glossy black tiling and blazing red neon script add a dose of dark glam.
In the same vein, the drinks aren't your $2 tinnies. "We don't want to sacrifice the quality of the drink just because you're in a casual environment without table service," explains Sebastian. The plan is to offer a quartet of spot-on bottled cocktails—a Martini, an Old Fashioned, a Negroni and a Manhattan—via The Everleigh Bottling Co, over Navy Strength ice, with next to no wait time. A rotating fifth cocktail will be featured on tap (at the moment it's a Presbyterian). A focus on tequila, mezcal and whisky alongside beers and cider, served in smaller American pints, completes the bar line up. The food offering from their in-house kitchen will be revealed in coming weeks. For now, hoover up the addictive, retro, smoked almonds at the bar.
At Heartbreaker, Sebastian thinks "it's about the lovely, little bit nostalgic, feeling you get when you hear an old rock tune that you love and it connects you to some really happy memories and some good times. How do we make a space that grabs that?" Continues Michael, "it's a place to just be yourself... and go home with somebody good-looking afterwards." So pinch your dad's leather jacket and get your best ripped jeans ready for action from this weekend.
Image credit: The Everleigh by Nick West for The Urban List