Come in close, we’ve got a secret to spill. Down the back of Smith Street’s Beermash, up a simple staircase, sits Above Board: a new cocktail bar headed by former Australian Bartender of the Year, Hayden Lambert. He tried to keep it a secret, but now it’s all above board – much like its name suggests.
After working with friend and mentor, Matthew Bax, at Bar Americano, Hayden knew it was time to focus his energy on his own endeavour. With Above Board, he places the art and craft of cocktail-making directly in the spotlight, best paired with a healthy dose of brilliant customer service.
In crafting an experience that celebrates the cocktail, Hayden knew the interior had to take a back seat. The minimalist design aims to create a blank canvas for customers so they can interpret their experience how they please. Soft lighting and rich textures make the space feel warm, while drawing your eye straight back to main stage – the bar.
The main and only performer on the stage is Hayden himself. He wanted to build a customer base organically, aiming to establish an honest relationship with his customers. Therefore, he keeps things simple, encouraging conversation as he’s working to bring your creation to life. With a dry sense of humour, you’re sure to be entertained for the entire experience.
The menu is concise and simple and features a range of classic and custom cocktails. Signature concoctions include the H.S.L Special – a custom cocktail that’s made with lime, blackberry, Amaro Montenegro and a dash of absinthe. In contrast, The Empire Strikes Bax is a punchy coffee cocktail, which pays homage to mentor Matthew Bax.
You can access Above Board two ways: walking through Beermash or heading around the back to the laneway. Either way, you’ll reach a staircase at the back of the building. Look for the unmarked door, walk through and you’ll enter one of Collingwood’s best-kept secrets. Leave your worries at the door, pull up a pew and watch the show – Hayden’s skills and ‘bad banter’ have your night’s entertainment covered.
Want more drink-spiration? Head to Melbourne’s bars & booze page.