Behind A 19th Century Dressing Room Mirror Hides Melbourne’s New Secret Speakeasy

Take a wander down Mill Lane to Melbourne’s new speakeasy venue, Mill Place Merchants, immersed within a lovingly restored heritage-listed 19th-century building and you will be welcomed by its cosy interior and vintage vibe.

Once you enter through the monogrammed red door you will find yourself in an old dressing room, filled with rolls of fabric, mannequins and a vintage sewing machine – a charming nod to the garment workers of the city’s once-thriving rag trade. At the end of the passageway lies a grand gilt-framed mirror that becomes a secret entrance to the bar that lies beyond – a cosy yet elegant room that has been adorned with leather Chesterfields, Victorian wingback chairs and chaise longues.

​​The venue showcases its original bluestone walls and exposed wooden beams which are complemented by golden crane-patterned wallpaper, a collection of antique furniture, vintage rugs, and objets d’art curated by local designers Jane Rosback and Ormes Sawyer. At its heart, Mill Place Merchants boasts a gleaming copper-topped bar, where expertly crafted original cocktails are served against a backdrop of vintage bottles, glasses and silver trays.
​Paawan Engineer, Mill Place Merchant’s Director (Cuff Melbourne, Rosewood, Beijing, Hyatt Regency, Mumbai) wanted to create a welcoming space, not only for himself but for the community and all Melbournians to enjoy. ​

With a menu designed by a list curated by award-winning Italian mixologist, Giancarlo Mancino, drinks will star at Mill Place Merchants, with garnishes made in-house, including Tasmanian cherries macerated in bourbon, Maraschino liqueur spices and onions pickled for Gibson Martinis. The menu pays homage to the original cocktail masters of old, acknowledging ‘Straub’s Manual of Mixed Drinks’,  Dick Bradsell, inventor of the espresso martini and Hyman Gale & Gerald F. Marco, authors of ‘The How and When’ cocktail book. ​The drinks list will also feature drops from iconic local Victorian producers.

Mill Place Merchants’ accompanying food menu has been created by Chef Deepak Mishra, whose culinary expertise spans over two decades, having worked in the kitchens of numerous 5-star luxury hotels across Singapore (Parkroyal), United Arab Emirates (Fairmont Raffles Swissotel Group), and India (The Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur) and in Melbourne as Director of Culinary Operations at Hotel Chadstone MGallery by Sofitel.

Mill Place Merchants will offer the perfect clandestine locale for both a pre-dinner drink or post-event nightcap, creating the perfect mood to both begin an evening or kick on into the night.

The ambience will be enriched with live acoustic music, setting the tone early in the evening with a repertoire of smooth jazz and blues classics. As the night unfolds, the music will transition into more energetic swing tunes that are reminiscent of the big-band era. Later in the night the dulcet tones of classic crooners will be heard, serenading patrons with soulful renditions across jazz, soul and blues genres ensuring a memorable experience until the night’s end.

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