169 Exhibition Street, Central Business District, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000, Australia
Tel: +61 3 9663 7722
Website: View bar's website
Hours: Mon-Thu 5pm-3am, Fri 4pm-5am, Sun 7pm-3am
Door: Go early
Style: Lounge bar
Recommended for: Cocktails
Price guide: Middling
Food: No food
Images By: diffordsguide.com
Named for the year in which a New York local paper defined the new-fangled word cocktail as "a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters", 1806 is a real joy for the purist.
Although the bar spills over three separate levels, the focal point is the main bar on the ground floor, dramatically framed as a stage for the barkeeps by long, scarlet velvet curtains. The style is braces, speakeasy, complete with vintage cocktail shakers. But it isn't actually pompous: there's a good-time crowd, here, too.
The menu eschews crowd-pleasers in favour of a stately progression through the evolution of the cocktail, beginning with a Bittered Sling and closing with contemporary creations, complete with academic research and citations.
For anyone who's into the finer points of cocktail history and geekery, it's an amazing read. For non-buffs? It's the sort of scary thing that has the average punter reaching for the vodka-tonic.
Probably best visited early in the week, or at least the evening for a long session discovering the forgotten treasures behind all those awards.