If you’re in need of a little reprieve from the daily grind, look up at the corner of Little Bourke and Swanston Streets.
You’ll get a glimpse of the balcony at Cabinet Bar, an inner-city oasis serving up delicious cocktails and tapas to match.
Business partners, Kath Camfield and Alan Bell, have been working together for years. They met in their hometown of Auckland and moved over to work in Melbourne, bringing with them years of hospitality wisdom and good ol’ Kiwi charm. Cabinet Bar & Balcony was opened by the duo in 2007 – appropriately named after a well-stocked liquor cupboard.
Despite its discrete location tucked behind one of Melbourne’s many laneways, the venue didn’t manage to stay secret for too long. Cabinet has amassed a loyal following of regulars who flock there for the laidback yet professional service, headed by venue manager and part-owner, Marie Knox.
The bar is manned by Kiwi cocktail connoisseur Keaton Forbes, who previously honed his skills at Melbourne venues The Mill and Bistro Vue. His extensive wine knowledge and love of specialty spirits will ensure that you’ll be poured the perfect drink on every occasion.
Whether you’re after a cold brew with a mate on the sunny balcony, or an intimate candlelit date, you’ll find what you’re looking for. Start your night off with a ‘bar jar’ cocktail and work your way down the list. The offerings are inventive without being wacky, sure to appease adventurous and classic cocktail lovers alike. The Rozaloz martini is a sweet nod to the owners’ Kiwi background, with New Zealand-made 42 Degrees feijoa vodka, green apple and lime.
When hunger calls, Cabinet has a selection of simple but tasty bar snacks. Gregarious English chef, Ed Robinson, is responsible for said menu, creating the perfect accompaniment to the diverse drinks. You’re likely to catch him on the floor chatting away to guests when he’s not held up in the kitchen.
To start, order marinated olives and crisp eggplant chips with garlic aioli, and then wash down lobster rolls with a Melbourne-brewed craft beer. Flatbread pizzas are a house favourite and make the best of local produce where possible. They’re designed to share, but you’ll be hard pressed to stop at one – try the mushroom and thyme version with creamy Meredith goat’s curd. Top everything off with a Victorian and Tasmanian cheese platter and a glass of red from the concise, but well-rounded list.
Cabinet’s interior is cosy and eclectic with European influences. Pull up a chair at one of the indoor table settings or relax into a chaise lounge after escaping the office. On a good day, step outside to the balcony. With views over the street and down towards the Yarra, it’s the ideal spot to spend a lazy afternoon with a cocktail in hand.
It’s easy to see why Cabinet is an enduring venue in an ever-evolving hospitality landscape. With great service, delicious snacks and a vast selection of drinks on hand, gather your crew and ditch work early. It’s well worth it.