History. It defines who we are and where we come from. It shapes the present, but can be easily forgotten as we go about our daily lives. The dishes we eat, the beverages we drink–their recipes are often steeped in tradition, using ingredients and flavour combinations from a time gone by.
Take the cocktail for example: a single drink, but a sum of its parts, working together in perfect harmony. Unlike wine or beer which is ready to enjoy, a cocktail requires the masterful skills of a bartender to create it, often taking timeless recipes and adapting them into new and interesting combinations.
These classics all have their own story, but what about the cocktail itself? There are many thoughts on the origins of the name, but the definition first appeared in political US paper The Balance and Columbian Repository, and reads: “Cocktail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters.” The date of publication was 13th May 1806.
Just over 200 years later, a very unique bar opened in Exhibition Street named 1806. Whether they planned to or not, they have successfully placed themselves as one of the top cocktail venues in Melbourne. Unlike many bars constantly trying to reinvent the classics, 1806 celebrates them; featuring different cocktails from the mid 1700s onwards, they lubricate and educate patrons in parallel, with a little theatre added in for fun.
That is not to say that these guys aren’t creative. 1806 bartenders are encouraged to design their own beverages which then appear as specials on the menu and are used in food-matched cocktail degustations. You can also choose to do a whisky flight and pair it with amazing cheeses; and if you have a larger group of 20 or more, you can head downstairs below street level to The Understudy where you can have a private, tailored experience in a more intimate environment.
This is a bar not only built on history–it’s a bar built on the history of cocktails. Listen, watch and absorb because this is a place of learning where the bartender is your teacher and guide. You may even be inspired to create your own delicious masterpiece, all based on that defining experience: your evening at 1806.