If the fit-out at Peaches, a new, two-level cocktail bar on Swanston Street, is anything to go by, Melbourne's love affair with industrial chic might finally be waning. Instead of raw concrete and Edison globes, design company Pierce Widera has given the bar an 80s pastel colour scheme of pink, green and peach with suede upholstered booths and nougat terrazzo tabletops.
"'Kitsch' is a word that gets thrown around quite a lot," says Peaches manager Aaron King. "We wanted a fun environment that doesn't take itself too seriously and we're mixing that with high-quality product made by experienced people who know what they're working with."
King, previously the restaurant manager at the now-closed Estelle by Scott Pickett, says the drinks lists – particularly the cocktails – have been designed to reflect the distinct ambience on each of Peaches' two levels.
The rooftop bar, its timber decking and whitewashed brick walls giving it a 60s modernist vibe, is all about spritz and stirred cocktails. "Simpler drinks that can be produced quickly and at high quality" at the smaller bar, says King.
In the main cocktail bar downstairs, the drinks are more complex and experimental but without being too ponderous. This is, after all, a room with a sizeable mirror ball hanging above the bar.
The cocktails are sorted into musical genres on the menu. You'll find quirky, original drinks under "Funk" ( a Chartreuse, coriander and pineapple number named Bootsy) and harder boozy drinks under "Heavy Metal" (like the smoky Lucky Strike with whisky, vanilla syrup and chocolate bitters); while "90s Pop" brings with it fruit-driven frivolity (see the It's Britney Bitch — sloe gin, basil and raspberries) and "Disco" leans towards the long and thirst-quenching, like the Let's Get Physical, a mix of vermouth, peach tea and soda.
Peaches is owned by brothers Sam and Tom Peasnell and Adam Goldblatt, the team behind Preston bars Dexter and Takeaway Pizza. They also own Cheek, the barbecue restaurant underneath Peaches that takes culinary cues from the United States, China and Korea, with a wine list that leans towards minimal intervention and low-sulphur wines. Peaches tows a similar wine line.
"We don't serve wines that are quirky for quirky's sake," says King. "We're after wines that are more stable using good-quality grapes. The chardonnay we're pouring at the moment is from Denton View Hill in the Yarra Valley. It's well-made and approachable, a chardonnay that is recognisable as a chardonnay."
Peaches inherited a much sought-after 3am licence from the previous owners, (the space was previously a shisha bar), and serves food from a compact snack menu (five items, including crinkle-cut chips and fried-chicken sandwiches) until last call. It's another win for Melbourne's already well-fed and watered night owls.
*Peaches, Levels 2 & 3, 301 Swanston St, Melbourne, (03) 9994 8582, peaches.melbourne
Mon-Thu 4pm-1am (rooftop closes 11pm), Fri-Sat noon-3am (rooftop closes 11pm)*