Fitzroy’s Portal to the old world
Polly Bar feels like an old English smoking room from the turn of the 19th century. One might be initially intimidated by the onslaught of bottles that line the bar at eye level, but such an impression quickly dissipates. Whilst Dave, manager and barman-extraordinaire, knocks together a Bloody Mary, his favourite cocktail to make, he laments the cul-de-sac modern licensed venues have fallen into. “People seem to seek impact over taste or good service these days,” his hands everywhere, eyes engaged but his organised mind elegantly multitasking. “But good service never goes out of fashion and that’s the distinction.”
It is an ethos emulated by Polly Bar in its service of customers. Rather than handing over menus and leaving the patron to their pondering, the guest is engaged by the staff, being gently probed as to their preference of tastes and what they would like to try. As Dave puts it, “No-one wants to read [a menu] on their night off.” Through such an empathetic exchange, the process of ordering a drink is subverted from a potentially labourious decision into an instance of serendipity, creating a relaxed and friendly environment set apart from the stressors and pedantries of daily life.
For some, the world of cocktails appears elitist and aloof; that it is an exclusive experience for a certain class of people. Such a perception is a legacy of the media representation’s of cocktail culture, rather than the fastidiousness of venues themselves. Certainly there is an element of finesse and sophistication imbued in a such an old tradition, however, this by no means implies exclusivity. There is a tremendous sense of community at Polly, as indicated by their good relationships with neighbours and ongoing partnerships with other local businesses, such as the Grace Cafe. Polly Bar also host cocktail classes, teaching anyone who cares to learn the art of mixing an exquisite beverage, with those bits and pieces one has around the house: “to make a good cocktail, all you need is quality liquor and some general household foodstuffs.”
With its old-world atmosphere, plush furnishings designed for maximum comfort and the evident passion for cocktails and service that is without a doubt in abundance, Polly Bar is the place to escape the casual indifference ever-present in modern life.
By Chris Swan
t: 03 9417 0880
a: 401 Brunswick St, Fitzroy VIC 3065