Volstead Repeal: a hidden gem in the Canberra bar scene | HerCanberra

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Volstead Repeal: a hidden gem in the Canberra bar scene

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The unusual title of one of Canberra’s coolest new bars makes perfect sense once you understand it.

Volstead Repeal is a reference to the period in history when American lawmakers realised prohibition wasn’t working as the nation got its alcohol fix via bootleggers and speakeasies. So they threw the laws out the window and went to the bar to celebrate. It was probably a bar which had a similar aesthetic to Canberra’s very own Volstead Repeal, which is quietly hidden away up the far end of the alley of shops in the new Yamaroshi Buidling at 32 Mort Street in Braddon.

Once through the sleek modernist corridor, you’re transported into a post-Prohibition, New York style cocktail bar with walls lined with whisky bottles and deep green leather chesterfields beckoning for you to partake of a drink while soaking up the jazz and candlelight.

The brainchild of Stu Inger in partnership with Sydney businessman Allen Chen, Volstead Repeal takes you back in time and envelopes you in a den-like warmth.

Using Filardo Ercan Architects for the fit-out and contrasting the deep greens with a long, reclaimed wood bar and mahogany bookshelves, the space defies the newness of its building. It could well have been sitting in Braddon for 80 years.

With his Errol Flynn moustache and leather-strapped apron, Stu cuts a dashing figure at the bar which is his natural home after a decade-long career in high-profile watering holes including Hippo, Blackbird, White Rabbit and Kremlin.

The cocktail list is a literary feast and includes such gems as the Steel Bird of Chamomile Bullet Rye, Amaro Montenegro, Cocchi Americano, Lemon, Orgeats and whites which Stu describes as “Inspired by the modern classic Paper Plane, chamomile infused Rye, bitter sweetness from the cocchi and Montenegro”.

The Rat King mixes Wild Turkey 101, François Voyer Calvados, Dolin Rouge Vermouth, Luxardo and lavender and is “kind of a fusion of a Boulevardier and a Martinez. A boozy stir-down with a floral twist from the lavender”.

Photo by Ashley St George

But he singles out the Sunshower as a personal favourite which combines Christian Drouin Calvados, orange rind, Dolin Blanc, Kaffir lime, lemon, clove and orange bitters— “It’s bright and refreshing.”

“I love the creative process of creating new cocktails and we will have a new seasonal menu every three months.”

There’s a wine and beer list featuring an interesting mix of local and overseas labels and if it’s whisky you’re after, well, there are more than 300 choices to mull over.

Bar owner Stu Inger throwing off some strong Erol Flynn vibes (surely we can’t have been the first to say that…)

Meanwhile, one end of the bar houses a small kitchen and pizza oven, cranking out some old-school pizzas and charcuterie platters to settle back with. It’s dark, calming and old school in the extreme. And it’s worth wandering down the sleek minimalist mall (turn in when you see the Sushi Fresh shop) to find. There’s no signage, just a glass door and the echo of jazz.

“We are not trying to hide, but we do want to stay out of the way. I’d like to think people will come and find us with intent,” says Stu.

The Essentials
What: Volstead Repeal
Where: 7/32 Mort Street Braddon
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday 5pm to midnight (and opening from 3pm on Sunday)
Contact: volstead.com.au



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