Top Shelf, Melbourne’s boutique drinks festival, takes place this weekend (8-9 August). Here are 24 reasons why you should go:
- There’s going to be an ice luge dispensing Martinis. For some, that’ll be reason enough.
- It’s likely to be the largest collection of premium and craft liquor you’ll have ever seen under one roof.
- You can enjoy discounted cocktails mixed by some of Australia’s (and New York’s) best bartenders in lots of little pop-up bars.
- Nearly 40 free seminars and presentations will teach you everything from how to mix up perfect cocktails to how to launch a brewery. Or a distillery. Or a bar. You can view the full timetable here.
- There’ll be barrel-charring displays involving real fire.
- It’s a great place to discover a new favourite tipple. Entrance allows you free sampling of hundreds of premium beers, wines and spirits.
- Many of the drinks being showcased are new, unusual or rare – things like Ink Gin, which changes colour when you add tonic water to it; or Truffled Rye, which is white rye spirit infused with black truffle distillate.
- The World’s Smallest Bar will be there. And you can have a drink in it. And then exit through the fridge.
- There’ll be bartenders in kilts. We don’t know why – they probably like whisky.
- If it’s cold, you can get yourself a hot mulled cider; order a warming Blazer cocktail from a pop-up version of one of Australia’s most admired bars, Eau de Vie; or stand next to a heater. Yes, there’ll be heaters (it is Melbourne).
- You can book a session in the McHenry Distillery Gin Laboratory and make your own gin. Choose your botanicals, allow William McHenry to guide you through the distillation process and then bottle your gin to take home with you.
- You can learn how to throw a kick-ass party, complete with colourful cocktails.
- Some of Australia’s finest brewers, winemakers and distillers will be among those presenting at the show, including Mark Watkins of Mt Uncle Distillery, Adam Betts of Edge Brewing and Andrew Fleming of Coldstream Hills winery. You can even talk to them if you want.
- The guys behind PDT, arguably New York’s most influential bar of the last decade, will be at the show, sharing advice about cocktails. Other international guest speakers, including Charlotte Voisey (pictured), will be flying in too.
- Quality food vendors such as Huxtaburger, Meatmother, Frencheese, Mammavan and Paco y Lola will ensure no one goes hungry.
- There’s dessert, too. How about some alcoholic macarons from Chocolette Patisserie? Or cupcakes from Miss Molly’s?
- You could win a Laphroaig whisky cabinet worth $10,000.
- There’ll be games like Beer Pong and egg and spoon races.
- There are other competitions with prizes. You could spin Yenda’s Wheel of Beer and win something beer-related; or win five cases of craft beer on the Top Shelf stand (C7); or take a selfie and win three bottles of Archie Rose spirits.
- Want a feed after the show? Top Shelf visitors can get 20% off their food and drink when they visit the Wilde Bar & Eatery (153 Gertrude St) after the show on Saturday and Sunday – just mention Top Shelf when paying.
- Like the movies? The first 100 visitors through the door on each day will get a cinema pass allowing two tickets for the price of one to Woody Allen’s new movie ‘Irrational Man’, starring Joaquin Pheonix and Emma Stone.
- If you want a career in hospitality, or if you already work in the trade, there’s going to be plenty of interest for you. There are sessions on becoming a sommelier, customer service, writing a profitable wine list, menu design and lots more. Plus, if you’re in the trade, all your mates will be there.
- After parties! There are three post-show events affiliated to Top Shelf: the Ginger Revival at Kodiak Club; the Boilermaker House bash; and the Bartenders’ Brunch at the Rochester Hotel on Monday – there are more details here.
- In a single day, you can learn more about liquor than most people will learn in a lifetime. And with tickets for $25 online and $40 on the door, it’s considerably cheaper than doing a TAFE course. And probably a lot more fun. Although you won’t get a certificate at the end of it.
The Top Shelf boutique drinks festival takes place at the Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton Gardens, on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th August.
You can still save $15 when buying tickets online here but the discount expires at 10am on Friday 7 August.
Thereafter, tickets will be available on the door for $40. Doors open midday.