Billy’s Top 10 Oz Picks
Visiting the land of killer snakes, sharks and crocodiles had never interested me. Excessive heat, bush land and endless glasses of Shirazes are not my idea of a good holiday. Nor is a 30 hour plane ride. But I went â€“ cashed-in the air miles, and now Iâ€™m a convert. Australia is fantastic. At least the bars and beaches in and around Sydney and Melbourne.
Over the next few weeks Iâ€™ll list my ten most memorable experiences â€“ stuff that was different. Which is the whole point of traveling, and collecting Â those air miles. My first mention is a bar, of course.
#1. KITCHEN PARTY on CHAPEL STREET in MELBOURNE
Imagine this. You wander into what looks like a small, neighbourhood liquor store, but something tells you itâ€™s not. There are people sitting at tables â€“ DRINKING. You play it cool and browse the shelves, thinking you might have crashed one of those private parties? Four people at a table shout at me, â€œLook after the drinks, weâ€™re out for a smokeâ€. I spot a long haired guy who looks like he could be the owner and I ask, â€œHow does it work? Is this a store or a bar?â€ â€œItâ€™s both.”
If youâ€™d like to drink here, itâ€™s a dollar mark-up on the beers, and five on the wines. Need glasses?â€ â€œYES, please, I think Iâ€™m in heavenâ€.
Because not only can I taste (drink) everything on the shelves, the selection is amazing. â€œWe seek out the weird and wonderful from all over the globe â€“ beers, wines and booze that the big stores donâ€™t carryâ€. And heâ€™s not kidding. Â I saw row after row of stuff Iâ€™d never hear of. Labels that said â€œI dare you to try me!â€. It was like visiting the underworld of drinks. Or the private stash of an old rocker. Where was my friend The Deacon when I needed him. He would surely have spotted connections between twisted labels and twisted songs. I drank a few whacky beers, and thanked the Lord for this owner, and for Melbourne. And asked myself why not? Why not let people drink in a liquor store? Not on your life in Ontario, but maybe someone could pull this off in Buffalo!
CHAPEL STREET LIQUORS, South Yarra, Melbourne chapelstreet.com.au
P.S. Chapel Street is a shoppers/drinkers paradise located in the Melbourne suburb of South Yarra. More on South Yarra in another post.