Down a cobblestone laneway sits an inconspicuous, unmarked door.
Behind it is what can only be described as a luxuriously jazz-soaked drinking and dining extravaganza, where good times, great service and even be er cocktails are king.
It is of course, Eau de Vie, the sumptuous speakeasy where high-quality, creative drink making is at the top of the menu. Appropriately located on Malthouse Lane, it is the definition of a drinking and dining den, where the expert staff know when a whisky should be spelt with an ‘e’ (and when it shouldn’t), and the ideal food pairing is only a bite away.
The bar’s remarkable reputation is no mystery – after all, it’s the product of the Speakeasy Group, which also owns a bar of the same name in Sydney, The Roosevelt and everyone’s favourite whisky bar – Boilermaker House. With the Melbourne outpost, Sven Almenning and Greg Sanderson have created an escape from the everyday, where alcohol aficionados and booze beginners can indulge in a collection of tipples that will have you sipping away all night.
Once you’ve opened the door you’ll find a sultry space where low tables sit near leather banquettes and candles are the main source of light. The door host will show you to one of these, before one of the friendly bartenders come over for a chat. They’ll ask you what you normally like – sweet, sour, bitter, or salty – before coming up with a concoction that you’ll be wanting the recipe for. If you already have a favourite, you’re in for a treat: the Eau de Vie version is sure to be up there with one of the best you’ve ever had.
As with its sister bar, Boilermaker House, whisky takes up a majority of the back bar shelving – in fact, at Eau de Vie, there’s a whole room dedicated to it. Hidden behind a well-placed bookcase, the Whisky Room is home to hundreds of bottles, as well as personal bottle lockers, where you can stash and store your favourite spirits for return visits.
While it may be a booze specialist, Eau de Vie has a few other tricks up its sleeve. A compact but curated food menu includes treats such as artichoke crisps with nettle aioli, fried Brussels sprouts with miso butter, and crispy pork belly served with traditional bread and butter pickles.
Released in mid-2017 Eau De Vie launched the Star of Bombay Martini Trolley. The custom designed and made trolley brings all the theatre of sitting at the bar to your table. Cocktails from the trolley are crafted in front of the guests. The trolley experience invites guests on a historical journey as you experience various martinis throughout time. The Edwardian is a twist on the sweet noted Hanky Panky cocktail from The Savoy Hotel of 1903 while the Captain Ritz cocktail is an adaption of the ultra-luxurious Ritz Side Car from Paris. Not to be missed is the Madga Martini inspired by Ian Flemming’s iconic Bond series and The Dukes Hotel in London. The last martini in the series is the Simpson Martini, Eau De Vie’s take on the traditional dirty martini served at the prominent Connaught Hotel in London. Try one, or try them all with a martini flight with half serves so you can go back and enjoy a full serve of your favourite.
For the full experience, grab a friend and book into the five-course cocktail degustation experience. Held on a custom-built, bar-height table, it’s the stage on which the drama unfolds with five dishes matched to a number of theatrical cocktails. A host will guide you through the entire process, ensuring you leave with more than just a full stomach, but knowledge to take on your next drinking adventure.
With all this going for it, it makes total sense that Eau de Vie has no sign. After all, if everyone could find it easily, there would be a line down Malthouse Lane.