Disclaimer: I’m foremost a beer drinker, but when it comes to hard liquor, I like it clear and interesting. That said, the Top Shelf Boutique Drinks Festival 2015 is your kind of event where booze options are abundant, so expect you’re going to expand your alcohol arsenal and marry your palate with something novel.
I rode my bike to this event, which in hindsight was optimistic and slightly irresponsible. Before entering the Royal Exhibition Building, I reeled off my aims: imbibe alcohol, lots of it; saddle with reps from Melbourne’s chic bars; learn to make at least one new cocktail; find some beer; chat with distillers and brewers; and buy at least one bottle of something new.
It’s safe to say I thoroughly exploited the drinking, saddling, and chatting parts, but the learning and buying parts slowly diminished like my blurring vision at the Monkey Shoulder whiskey bar. A fractured schedule of my 7-hour unworldly experience at Top Shelf 2015*:
- Whiskey from the Eau de Vie pop-up.
- Gin flight from Nip of Courage (7 samples for $5; McHenry Sloe Gin for the win), plus cool Melb bar recommendations from staff.
- Steinbok Schnapps Firebomb.
- Chicken burrito from Paco y Lola and Little Ravens Turkish Delight from 3 Ravens Brewery (apparently better at room temp).
- Steam ale from Beach Hut Brewery.
- Bathroom break.
- Steinbok Schnapps Firebomb, again. Pose for a photo.
- Monkey Shoulder whiskey in the world’s smallest bar; write ‘I love Jacqui’ on bar wall to the earnest approval of Sharpie-wielding Jacqui; strike a pose for bar photo; overstay my welcome and down many delicious Monkey Shoulder Whiskey Piña Colada and getting caught in whiskey rain by Alan from Monkey Shoulder.
- Gin from Archie Rose Distilling Co.
- Vodka from Reyka Vodka.
- Pisco from The Pisco People.
- Steinbok Schnapps Firebomb. It’s that good.
- Classic Plum Wine from Choya Umeshu.
- Scarf almost stolen from Swede.
- Citadelle Reserve Gin from Neat Spirits.
- Vodka from ZNAPS Vodka Sweden.
- Gin mixer from Fever Tree.
* Be impressed that I remember. I also found lots of vendor business cards in my wallet the following day.
I left at curtains with no new cocktails to my repertoire or new booze to my bar shelf, but having overindulged in spirit hedonism, expanded my appreciation for non-clear craft spirits, and kamikaze-d my liver. Highly engaging, highly recommend, and will be going next year.
– Matt M.
Matt is a mad scientist by day and beer connoisseur by night. When he’s not devouring a new set of craft beers you will find him in a dankly lit room plotting his approach at the next alcohol-related festival.
Top Shelf will be bringing their fine liquor brands to Melbourne again in 2016. Visit http://topshelfshow.com.au to sign up for their mailing list.