This week the Carlton Club is opening up six rooms for contestants to create their own bars as part of their annual Bar Dream competition. Now in its second year running, the fourth floor of the Carlton Club is overtaken by six groups for just over three weeks, where they live out their bar-owning fantasies for the chance to win a cool grand. The creativity and joy that has gone into each bar is evident in each room’s theme, décor, playlists and signature drinks. We visited each Bar Dream bar and spoke to their creators about their inspiration behind their work—some of the ideas must be seen to be believed.
The Milk Bar
The first room you will come across is the A Clockwork Orange-inspired Milk Bar. As you can imagine, it’s a mostly black and white fit-out with the bartenders in the traditional Droog attire. The main feature of the bar is the Milk Maiden, a white female mannequin located behind the bar, where their signature drink, the Expressed Martini, comes out of the statues breasts. For real. This is not Shaun Franklin and Emma Tatnall’s first bar-running adventure, as she explains, “We usually run a guerilla pop up bar at Meredith Music Festival, the Goon Saloon. We do that, so we thought we’d do this! We’ve always wanted to own a bar, so maybe the next spot will be an actual real bar.”
A bit further down the corridor is Garrett and Will Huxley’s Glitterati, a nod to sequins, glitter, and disco. This room is a good time waiting to happen, as the Huxleys look amazing in their handmade head-to-toe sequined attire, with their artwork displayed on the walls. As well as the obvious dancing that will ensue here, there will also be events every Saturday, including the World’s Smallest Catwalk. “We’re going to have a catwalk and you get to walk it with your best elaganza and there’ll be a judging and a prize,” explains Garrett. If you’re feeling peckish there are also gold almonds and edible glitter-covered cupcakes to devour. Delish.
Opposite is Noelani Petero’s Notorious, which was greatly inspired by a trip to The States and the music she listened to growing up, including Motown, jazz, soul and blues, as well as hip hop, obviously. For Petero, creating this bar is genuinely a dream come true; “This was something I wanted to do since I was 14. Being given this opportunity to do Bar Dream was a perfect chance to give a preview of what I want to do, and hopefully down the track it will turn into an underground jazz soul bar where we have Big Momma Thornton lookalikes singing as well as hip hop and RnB.” Consider this a teaser for what’s to come from Petero, and musical acts in the coming weeks for Notorious include Thando Sikwila and DJ Ed Fisher.
90s Italian disco is where it’s at, darling. Grace Lambert, Radhika Chopra and Bianca Fioritti have embraced all their favourite party elements—lots of colour, 90s disco and glow in the dark—and decided to bring them together to create Ciao Ciao. The drink of choice here is the AbFab-inspired Bolli Stoli cocktail with vodka, elderflower and Prosecco, served with a flower in it. When the bar opens today, the creators are keen to get the dancefloor going too; in the coming weeks they will be playing mixes by some of Melbourne’s favourite local DJs such as Otologic and Tranter.
At first glance Apothecary now appears quite spooky and a bit magical, and when we find out the inspiration behind the bar is Sabrina the Teenage Witch, we know we’re in for a good time. The shelves are filled with jars or odd picked bits and bobs, and we can’t help but notice there’s even a bottle labeled ‘Essence of Harvey Kinkle’. For drinks, Maria Nasniak and Sarah Nielsen are infusing gin with a different herb each week, and they’ve started with lavender. Other beverages of note are Brain Hemorrhage shots and Blue Moon Beer. We’re under their spell.
Finally there’s Henosis—a Greek term for ‘oneness’ and ‘unity’. While that may conjure up ideas of a tranquil environment, it’s all darkness and red neon light here, as bartender Sarah Walshe explains the theme is ‘80s but with a futuristic feel—think Blade Runner. Drinks are your typical basics and a Fireball shot, but the drink of choice is the Lazer Liquid—a take on gin and tonic but with a raspberry shot. When you sit the drink up on the bar, which has a UV light installed underneath, the drink glows blue. Welcome to the future.
The Bar Dream bars will be open to the public from 17th July, and will operate for Friday and Saturday nights from 7pm-3am for the following four weekends till the 8th of August.
Image Credits Sabine Legrand for The Urban List