The Raccoon Club
With a strict 'no dickheads' policy (that they take very seriously), it really is about drinking better, not more.
Despite primarily being a craft beer destination — Kooinda from West Heidelberg, Hawthorn Pale Ale, Thunder Road from Brunswick and their own Raccoon brew have all been seen on the rotating taps — the Raccoon Club won't be pigeonholed. A largely Victorian wine list, regular rum and whiskey tastings, specialty local spirits and more make this a bar for anyone who likes to drink well. And, with a strict 'no dickheads' policy (that they take very seriously), it really is about drinking better, not more.
The atmosphere here is particularly un-pretentious. Run by husband-and-wife team Robert and Helen (who ran the Alphabet City Cafe in Northcote many years ago), the pair are enthusiastic about their offering and work at cultivating the local spirit by learning people's names, chatting to the bar-sitters and protecting everyone's enjoyment by enforcing their aforementioned patronage policy.
A beer garden out the front, pool table up the back and plenty of booths, bottles and board games in-between, there really can't be much more you need to have a good time. Oh, perhaps some food to balance all the liquids? No problem. Pick from the local takeaway spots and order in. If you fancy a burger, Chew Burgers is right next door and delivers straight to your table.
So, if you've decided to give the Raccoon Club your patronage for the first time, just beware of one thing: it sits very much in isolation. While you may wander happily up High Street, Thornbury, peering into the windows of some interesting shops and cafes, once you hit the junction and veer off up Plenty Road you'll notice a distinct shift in the landscape — you might even need to Google your location just to check you're heading in the right direction. There's really nothing here, save for a Woolworths that's lit up like a beacon, the Junction Hotel (a 'pokies pub') and a few showrooms and apartments. Keep walking still, and you'll be tempted to turn right around. But as you see the lights of Bell Street approaching — and your proximity to Kansas is feeling further out of reach — just walk on, adventurous buddy. For soon you will be rewarded with the sight of The Raccoon Club and its humble, warm embrace.