Black Pearl alum open new Melbourne cocktail bar, featuring Mary’s burgers

Image source: Fancy Free Bar via Instagram.

Fancy Free has, until now, been a little more than a roving band of some of Melbourne’s best bartenders. Ryan Noreiks, Rob Lebicans and Matt Stirling have been doing pop-ups and takeovers at bars across Australia and the UK for the last six months.

The trio, who come from Fitzroy’s Black Pearl, one of the city’s best cocktail bars, have finally dropped anchor in the CBD. They’ve taken over a spacious two-tiered glass box in a corporate pocket of Little Collins Street, a site formerly occupied by 8bit Burgers. But it’s not forever. In another six months, their lease will be up and they’ll be looking for a new home – a permanent one.

To kick off their food menu, chefs from Mary’s Newtown have takeover the kitchen and will be slinging cheeseburgers, fried chicken, and some of the country’s best mash and gravy for the next two months.

Channeling a similar dive-bar vibe to Mary's (in a surprisingly well-lit space), Melburnians may come for the burgers, but the heroes here are the drinks. These men know their cocktails. The cocktail list is wild and fun, and broken down by ABV and price: alcohol-free (with the option to add booze, of course), low-alcohol and full-alcohol. One of the team’s favourites is the R&C made with whisky, pineapple and clarified milk punch (whey taken from milk that’s been spiced), served over an ice block with a Japanese maple leaf frozen inside.

They’ve also experimented with recreating a Pet Nat (natural sparkling wine) with no wine at all. Made with bourbon, apple and kombucha, the Pet Not is batched into bottles and popped to serve. It’s like a funky natural wine, but a little fruitier.