The Store Room first launched onto the scene last year, tucked away behind a secret door at the back of a St Kilda Road barber shop. As of a few months ago, the barber shop is no longer, and the cocktail bar has doubled in size, though in true speakeasy style, it's just as tough to locate. You'll need to sniff out the street address, venture into a camouflaged chamber and dial #2 on an old-school telephone to operate the secret sliding entrance.
Inside, this pint-sized drinking den is full of charm, its walls hung with an eclectic array of knick knacks, retro sports equipment, luggage and random curios, in a nod to the whole store room theme. With cosy banquette seating and moody lighting setting the tone, it's the kind of place that's primed for winter nights spent bunkered down over a couple of cocktails.
And those cocktails are well worth the effort, the menu's diverse, seasonal selection hitting all the right notes. You'll find something here for just about every mood. Keep things bright and breezy with a Yonashi Sour ($20) — a twist on the classic, blending Suntory Kakubin whisky with pear liqueur, lemon and egg whites — or dive deeper with the concoction they've dubbed Smoke & Mirrors ($26). This one's a boozy blend of Monkey Shoulder and Jura Superstition whiskies, vermouth and bitters, served alongside a smoking pile of wood chips for full effect.
There's big love here for quality spirits, the menu grouped by flavour profile and with tasting flights available for each. The 'Unusual Gin' flight ($26) showcases West Winds' Broadside, that Australian Green Ant gin and the caramelised sugar notes of France's Citadelle Old Tom, while a range of whisky flights ($22-28) will see you tasting your way across America, Japan or our own backyard.
Those after something a little less stiff, should find just enough to occupy them in the tidy, largely local crop of wines and crafty beers. With space at a premium, there's not much in the way of a kitchen, though staff are whipping up some pretty mean snacks. The loaded cheese and charcuterie board ($35) makes for primo grazing sessions, while hungrier tummies will appreciate the trio of jaffles ($8) — and perhaps the beaut stuffed with raspberries, mascarpone, white chocolate and gin jam for dessert.
Images: Julia Sansone