The phrase 'the Rum Diary' tends to spark images of the 1950s, sex, jealousy, and Puerto Rico. That or Johnny Depp. Either way, isn't bad let's be honest. But here in Melbourne, the Rum Diary should now make you think of a small, Brunswick Street bar with a focus on, no surprises here, rum.
Housed where Gypsy Bar used to be, the Rum Diary has stripped things back and started fresh. The fit-out is simple. Small, intimate wooden tables, hanging light features, a handful of bar stools, and a warm paint job has changed what used to be quite a dark venue into a relaxed, casual bar. You can still nab a spot outside on the street when the weather is nice.
With about 30 to choose from, this is your venue if you're a fan of rum. From Angostura 1919 ($10) to a 25-year-old English Harbour ($23) to Pampero Aniversario ($17), they really have most bases covered. Other spirits are of course available, and they support the locals here, stocking 666 Vodka, The West Winds Gin, and Tromba Tequila.
The cocktail list is small and mainly sticks to the things we know, like the mojito ($19) and the pina colada ($18). As a rum bar, it's not surprising that they would mix things up a bit with the cocktails and they do this in the form of the rum and vanilla espresso martini ($18).
Five white wines and five red wines are available by the glass, including the Maverick shiraz from the Barossa ($9.50) and the Waihopai Pinot Noir ($10). They have Monteith's Golden Ale and Golden Axe Cider on tap, with a handful of beers available by the bottle.
When it comes to the eatables here, they are taking the old toastie and running with it. With seven varieties, there seems to be something for every taste. Try the Avocado Smash with avocado, mint, pepper, and feta ($8); the Morning Glory, a mix of bacon, egg, mushrooms, HP sauce, and cheese ($7); or perhaps the Atlantic smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers, spinach, and dill ($8).