MFWF: Aperitif Masterclass at Collins Quarter

An aperitif a day keeps the doctor away, and it’s the perfect prescription for a lazy autumn afternoon.

“On a scale from one to really good sex, this cocktail is just below really good sex.” The bartender immediately went red at my risqué analogy, but I couldn’t come up with a better description…the cocktail just hit the spot!

I was indulging myself in a Melbourne Food and Wine Festival aperitif and digestif masterclass at one of Melbourne’s best known bars, Collins Quarter. It’s a subject I know little about, so I was excited to roll up my sleeves and raise a toast to all things vermouth, bitters, and sherry.

The afternoon was hosted at Doc Martin’s – originally a consulting room built for Dr. Robert Martin in 1887. A newly converted lounge created to honour the Doc’s legacy, specialising in aperitifs and digestifs, many of which have ties with historical medicines and remedies.

I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. These guys were serious about their alcoholic remedies and I was serious about becoming one of the Doc’s patients.

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival an Apertif a Day keeps the doctor away Collins Quarter

The staff took us through a tantalising tasting: five custom crafted aperitifs curated by bar manager Zeb Plater, expertly matched with canapés by head chef Nikki Smith. Oysters, kaffir lime-infused vermouth, chocolate ganache salted croutons.

And then there was what I call heaven: crispy fried chicken with jerk mayo paired with, well, the sexy cocktail: Amer Picon, Tropical Shrub, Stone & Wood Pacific Ale, Tiki Bitters. I mean, who makes a cocktail with BITTERS and BEER? It was pure genius.

The menu was creative and unsuspecting with exotic drinks that were equally complementary to the fare.

The verdict? Two thumbs up! Doc Martin’s at Collins Quarter initiated me into the bitter and sweet world of aperitifs and left me wanting more. Stop by the Doc’s place for a cocktail to finish off the workday or a Saturday nightcap. The bartenders are very knowledgeable and can recommend an aperitif based on your tastes!

Ember is an American turned Aussie. Her love affair with Melbourne goes back three years, and she still can’t get enough of this city! Discovering new hideouts and hidden gems around Melbourne is her hobby. Marketing Strategist by day, spontaneous adventurer, brekky enthusiast, and aerial acrobat by night.

You can find Doc Martin’s and Collins Quarter at 86 Collins Street or online at

Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of Collins Quarter.