Blue Duck Vodka pop-up bar at Old Melbourne Gaol

On a Friday evening, I wandered the cells of the Old Melbourne Gaol with a Moscow Mule cocktail in hand and found myself engulfed in dark conversations about crimes from Melbourne’s sordid past.

With blue lights that enhance the haunting Gaol shadows, jazz music, and a selection of cocktails, the National Trust’s pop-up bar in the Old Melbourne Gaol set a mysterious and tawdry scene to taste and enjoy a niche vodka from New Zealand’s Blue Duck.

Old Melbourne Gaol

image courtesy The National Trust

Entry into the event included full access to the gaol cells. Two cocktails and extra drinks could be purchased for $8. A macabre evening with delicious cocktails supported by the smooth Blue Duck Vodka.

After exploring a bit, I attended a Blue Duck Vodka masterclass. The class included vodka tasting in the stately courtroom, bright and full of wooden pews and benches. The courtroom was the perfect venue to taste a sample of the vodka, sans any cocktail-making additions. It was smooth and enjoyable, perfectly suited for extravagant cocktails or a simple martini straight up with a lemon twist. The tasting also provided some interesting tidbits about the company and drink in hand. Most of us think potatoes when we think vodka, but Blue Duck is actually made from distilling the whey in milk, something I didn’t know was a thing. After the learning and classy tasting was done, I was quite pleased to leave the court and return to the fun inside the Gaol.

National Trust pop up bar

photo courtesy National Trust

The Melbourne Gaol provides an ambiance of mystery and intrigue, especially as the sun goes down. Add some classic cocktails – such as a Seabreeze and Vodka Lime and Soda – and food trucks for the peckish, and you have the recipe for a great event. Be sure to wrap up well in a coat, and wear sensible shoes, as the cobblestone floors and walls aren’t very warm or forgiving to stiletto heels.


-Candice Vallimont


The National Trust Pop-up Bars next events and locations:

Areas of the event are wheelchair accessible, but not fully.

Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of the National Trust.