Recently we shot some editorial photography for Silverkris, the Singapore Airlines in-flight magazine. The images were for an article about “Secret Melbourne” – focusing on places that aren’t the usual tourist traps, but instead are difficult to stumble across without being told where to find them.
One of our favourites from the assignment was Bar Americano. Despite living in Melbourne, this neat little bar had never registered on my radar – so it was a pleasure to come across this hidden gem.
Locating Bar Americano requires a little work. It’s down a small laneway, which comes off another laneway, which comes off a side street. Yeah. It’s out of the way.
It was late evening when I went looking for it. I was quietly confident after locating the address on Google maps, but still found myself walking up and down the side street trying to find the first laneway to go down. Somehow I overshot twice – time for another map check. Re-oriented myself and finally located the first laneway.
Partway down the first lane I found the offshoot second laneway where the bar is – or where it’s supposed to be. In front of me was a long thin alley, dimly lit, smelling faintly of urine and with a dumpster half hidden around the corner near the end. I rechecked my map. This was indeed the spot – apparently.
As I ventured closer to where lane turned the corner I became aware of some unassuming signage and a faint glow from a single small window. Arriving at the corner, I was greeted with a brilliant art deco glass door glowing in a recessed doorway bearing the words Bar Americano, and through a small window I could see a barman fixing a drink. I had arrived!
Upon entering, I realized how tiny this bar is. There are no seats whatsoever. It’s standing room only – the kind of place you go to take a lean at the bar and spin a yarn with the bartender.
The bartenders here are well trained and pride themselves on making cocktails that are the real deal. The majority of the menu is based on the classics, and are made with care and attention …. and a conversation.
As I entered, bartender Hayden greeted me with a friendly smile. I had prearranged a special visit to be able to take photographs for the SilverKris editorial. Image Workshop photographer Sharon Blance had previously visited and captured the exterior shots, but a special visit to photograph the interior had to be arranged.
The bar has a strict “No Photos” and “No Phones” policy, which Hayden explained is about creating a space where people come to share a friendly drink and engage in real conversation – not photo taking for Facebook and Instagram updates.
These images give you just a taste of what it’s like. This really is a place you need to experience in person – I’ll give you the address and let you track it down yourself. Bar Americano: 20 Presgrave Place, Melbourne, Australia.