There is always one of two things that stick with you from a visit to Curtin House on Swanston Street — those stairs, or the inevitable hangover the next morning. By the time you get to Rooftop, the drinks are well deserved. The latest addition to the Curtin House family, Mesa Verde, requires almost as much climbing. Found on level 6, it can feel like you're joining the queue for Rooftop, but head on in and you'll find an open, wooden room filled with personality. And, with the loud PAM staff uniforms, personality is obvious. Think the complete opposite of a cocktail bartender's uniform. There are no vests or suspenders in sight.
A South American, Mexican influence is heavy on the food and drinks front. A seriously curated wall of tequila is what you'll find behind the bar as you peruse the menu — you'll find that the cocktail list relies heavily on the Mexican spirit. For those in the mood for a cocktail try the Tommy's Margarita ($18) a classic mix of tequila, lime and agave nectar, or the Marmalade Old Fashioned, a combination of Sierra Milenario Anejo, Oloroso sherry, roasted coriander and grapefruit jam with chocolate bitters ($22). If you're a group in the mood to party go for the Carbonated Capsicum Fizz, a smacking mix of tequila, green capsicum, lime and light agave, ($50 serving 4-8 people).
Tequila isn't the only one invited to the party. Around 50 beers are pouring, from White Rabbit Dark Ale ($7) on tap to Brooklyn Lager from the US ($8). Or, for something a little left of centre, try the St-Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale from Canada ($9). The wine list is small and relies heavily on Spanish and European influences. For a bubbly start, go for a glass of Ruinart Brut from Champagne ($22 glass) or, for a light white, try the Txomin Etxaniz Txakoli from Spain ($75 bottle). For those looking for a red, try an Australian drop with the Red Edge Tempranillo/Monastrell from Heathcote ($10 glass), or for a Spainish red go with the GR 174 Garnacha/Carinyena/Merlot ($64 bottle).
To accompany the liquids, there is a pretty extensive food menu to sit alongside the drinks list. Keeping in theme, snack on things like tortilla chips with salsa ($9) or the ceviche, radish and jicama ($18). For something more substantial try the tacos filled with pulled pork, pickled onions, chipotle BBQ sauce and radish ($6) or the chorizo chilli beans and corn bread ($17). Sweet tooths will be happy to know there is a dessert menu. Top off the evening with a peanut butter ice cream sandwich ($9) or rice pudding with rose jelly and strawberries ($9).
Mesa Verde is adding something a little different to the already full Curtin House. It earns its place as a stopover to one of the many other venues, or as a destination in itself.