Bar, Melbourne

On Tour: Der Raum

Step 1. Hail a taxi and direct him to the corner of Swan and Church St in Richmond♣.

Step 2. Pay the boatman, step the curb and approach the blackened door.

Step 3. Smile at the bartender♥.

Step 4. Take a spin through the menu♦

Step 5. Accept a welcome drink, casually diguised as an amuse bouche.

Step 6. While you finish your drink, select another and order‡

Step 7. Repeat step six, as many times as you can whilst remaining upright.

♣ Be aware that if there is a game on at the Gee, the crawl down Church St will be interminable. If this is the case, best sneak a roady in your pocket. ♥ Do not call him a mixologist. ♦ Don’t try to walk off with it, it has been attached to the bar. ‡ The drinks here, while lovely, can take some time to produce. Best keep one in the chamber at all times.

Well, you’ve waded through my short, but David Foster Wallacesque introduction to Der Raum. I suppose I now owe you an explanation.

Der Raum is a temple to process. Come forth, ye unwashed masses and worship at the altar of method.

Fine, innovative drinks, using techniques that wouldn’t seem out of place on Lost in Space or The Jetsons. The bottle above is a vermouth welcome drink, infused with floraln tastes and smoking with the addition of dry ice, ostensibly used to open the flavours up. While it’s not likely to make it onto my regualr roster of drinks at home, it was a pleasant welcome.

The Blue Moon, below, is a champagne salute to the ‘real’ Aviation. The violet flavor fog carried more taste than I had expected and the visual effect was indeed stunning. The Penicillin, served on an enopurmos sphere of ice and finished with a spray of Laphroaig, amazing. The Smokey Old Bastard, finished with cigar smoke delivered by a machine that wouldn’t have been out of place in a coffee shop on the Keizersgracht, should the Penicillin not deliver enough smoke. The Pharmacy, which i wrote about before, for the show more than anything. All the drinks on the list are incredible.

Der Raum consistently does well in awards and best bar in the world listings. The forest of suspended bottles over the bar is a joy to look at, with hidden treasures, like Tapatio Tequila that don’t come out very often at all, at least in this country. A fantastic bar, just heed my advice on ordering your next when you receive your first.
438 Church St, Richmond VIC 3121, Australia‎ – (03) 9428 0055

On Google Maps here.

Cocktail, Melbourne

The Pharmacy

So this was it, a drink that I had come to try. Laid out on a surgical steel tray, the Aperol syringe, the iced pill bottle filled with pear and capsicum infused Gin and a single white capsule, lying in wait. The famous Pharmacy cocktail at Melbourne’s Der Raum.

Around the world there are a precious few classic bars that are defined by a single drink. The Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel and their Singapore Sling, The Cuban Home of the Floradita Daiquiris, The Caribe Hilton and their Pina Colada. A great drink can represent a comfy bed of laurels.

Singapore’s national drink is now premixed and shipped in from Malaysia, a Cuban reality struggles to live up to words penned by a genius of imagination, Ramon Marerro’s strained pineapple sloshes in machinery better suited to the Kwik-E-Mart than a fond memory of a forgotten era.

There exists not only the bad, The Martini Bar in Barcelona serves a very pleasant Martini and I’ve seen too many brown sludge toting fools gush about the perfection of Harry’s white Bellini for me to doubt there are those precious few that try so hard to get it right, and succeed.

Which side does the Der Raum signature come down on? The latter mostly, I can happily report.

I applaud the concept, beautifully rendered in front on me.  The infusion of the Gin is delicious, the involvement one gets in the assembly phase is fantastic and the way the Aperol compliments the infusion is, well, delightful. It is difficult to not have a smile creep onto your face while you sip it on down.

The gelatin encased pill take a bit of waiting for, and after the ice had melted enough to relinquish its grip I have to admit, if I was looking for a weak link the pill is it. The astringent finish, I get, but the flavour you are left with didin’t have any of the subtlety the rest of the drink offered.

Still, all in all, my expectations were probably unattainably high, and they were exceeded. I’ll write a more general note on my impression of the rest of the Der Raum experience in the next couple of days…