If you can find it, Eau de Vie is one of the best cocktail bars in Melbourne. Down Malthouse Lane, next to a hotel car park, slip through the large wooden door and enter a new world. An intimate cosy space, Eau de Vie is the kind of world where you feel as though you could find yourself sitting next to Jay Gatsby or Mr Fitzgerald himself. Choose a spot at the bar, or perhaps retire to one of the more private booths towards the back.
Headed up by Greg Sanderson, Eau de Vie is a perfect balance of artistry and fun. Cocktails, made by seriously talented bartenders, can be finished with liquid nitrogen, or served up in a giant lady's shoe. Whatever you may be in the mood for, it's likely they've got the perfect tipple. Cocktail drinkers should try the Noble Experiment, an ice-cold martini finished with liquid nitrogen ($20), or perhaps The Aviator, a mix of handmade rhubarb and juniper puree with Tanqueray Gin, lemon juice and a touch of maraschino ($19). For something a little fun try the Peanut Butter Jelly Time, a combination of peanut butter rum, hazelnut liqueur, lemon, cassis, maraschino and plum bitters ($19). The menu is sure to include something to take your fancy, and the bartenders are keen to whip up a drink to attend to personal taste.
For the Champagne drinkers bubbles include Moet Brut Imperial N.V ($18 glass), or 2006 Kreglinger Brut Vintage ($80 bottle). A good selection of red and white wines are also on the menu, with the 2011 Red Claw Pinot Gris ($13 glass) and the 2009 E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone from France ($12 glass) being highlights. Beer drinkers are looked after with a small but considered list — go for the Beechworth Pale Ale ($10) or, for something heavier, try the Red Duck Porter ($12).
For a cocktail bar, their food menu is extensive, and uniquely fancy. Match your drinks to a plate of polenta chips, macadamia and coriander salsa and aioli ($11), Coq au Vin with radish and potato salad and oranges ($31) or the whitebait with 'Bloody Mary' sauce and lemon ($12).
If all this decision making gets too much, there is a five course cocktail degustation that will take you on a journey through both the cocktail and the food menus ($150 a person, booking essential). To top it off, they've got a 10 page whisky list which will make the most discerning whisky drinker smile. Think 10-year-old Ardbeg ($12) and the 10-year-old Talisker ($12).
With the big three — cocktails, whisky and bar food — EDV is the place to be for any occasion.