Behind the Wesley Place church on Little Lonsdale street sits a tiny bluestone cottage, a former caretaker’s quarters that’s been tucked away in the middle of town since 1914.
Step inside and you’ll find something more akin to a classic British pub, albeit a pint-sized one. Rob Libecans, Ryan Noreiks and Matt Stirling – the team behind pop-up cocktail bar Fancy Free and perhaps some the best cocktail makers in the country – have honed in on the idea for their second venue, which they’ve billed as “probably” Victoria’s smallest pub.
The building was an empty shell when the trio took over, and they’ve worked hard to balance its heritage features with all the modern potential. There are still bedrooms, paisley wallpaper, and even the cottage’s original staircase is still intact.
But given the pedigree here, it goes without saying that the cosy bar is the main attraction. Behind it are a few backlit shelves packed with booze, which are mixed into a short list of three classics cocktails, three house creations and one Martini. Keeping with the UK pub spirit, there’s also a rotating milk punch (an old English libation from the 18th century) and Guinness pouring on tap.
Perch at one of the stools along the Tasmanian oak bartop and you’ll spot two handmade bronze-and-oak speakers mounted on the wall. A good collection of vinyl sits behind the bar, so you can be sure this particular pub has a quality soundtrack to match the drinks.
There are appropriate snacks, too, including daily pies by Falco bakery. Plus some extra British options: creamy smoked-trout dip with crackers and Welsh rarebit – essentially thick cut toast slathered with a moreish cheese sauce that’s grilled until golden.