438 Church St
03 9428 0055
When I said I was going to Der Raum, I was the least to say perplexed to receive facebook replies asking me: “Are you a member? I thought it was members only?” Having successfully made table reservation, I didn’t inquire further…
It is only when I arrived at the doorstep of Der Raum, I found myself standing beneath an extremely unhelpful sign which was definitely not labelled Der Raum, leaving me to walk back and forth to check that it was the right number. To add to that the heavy, black wooden door was locked from the inside, requiring a ring of a bell before they let you in. Surely this can’t be right?
Not too long ago, Der Raum as part of their anniversary had made it members only bar, so that for those who don’t have a membership, can only get it in if the members haven’t already filled the bar. Either that or you try to make a reservation. For sure, being the 2010 cocktail bar of the year, they have the magnetism to sustain this sort of undertaking.
Inside, the extremely dim ambience is any bloggers worst nightmare – so please excuse the horrid pictures where no flash was used. Ok, so it is a bar, and it is supposed to be dark. But, with all the theatrics that goes on here, it would be safe to say that a tad more lighting would be appreciated. Nevertheless, the bar with its suspended bottles of alcohol – which are in fact not empty and actually used to make drinks – reflecting a reddish glow was a delight on the eyes, and the small booths provide an intimate space for some chit chat.
The menu consists of a matrix of drinks scattered between the four extremes of sweet, sour, dry and spice. More adventurous customers can opt for the ‘Tour de Force’ ($140 – 8 drinks) or ‘Tourist route’ ($80 – 5 drinks), to explore a degustation of drinks. I opted for the tourist route.
Amuse bouche – A fragrantly scented flow of dry ice smoke from a brown semi-opaque bottle, looking very much like something you could pull out of a chemistry lab. I seriously don’t remember what the base liquid was, but it was a refreshing palate cleanser.
Arrival – cute little mushroom-shaped bites of snap frozen alcohol. Evaporates in the mouth in an instant leaving a cool sensation! (Sorry about the blur)
Pharmacy – a chilled bottle of pear and roasted capsicum gin, to which one syringes a sweet Italian bitter and drop in the citrus sherbet pill. Then you shake it vigorously – voula you have made your own drink! It is sour, a little dry and ends with a citrusy note.
Bax beet pinot – is not really a pinot, but attempts to imitate elements of it from a pinot bottle. There are hints of vanilla from the Antica Formula Vermouth, a slightly bitter bouquet of femete branca, and a touch of smoked beetroot and citrus sweetness. It is dry, sour and a little peppery.
Pina colada – a thick foamy layer of white chocolate with coconut shavings makes for a wildly sweet rendition atop the traditional elements of coconut cream, pineapple and citrus. I’m undecided as to whether I prefer this over the original.
Departure – a dome of refreshing jelly and alcoholic dust to finish the Tourist Route.
Rating: [no rating since no food here] but it was certainly an exciting molecular mixology experience, satisfying all the senses. Whilst it is not cheap, and not a place to get drunk; it is a fabulous excuse to challenge the senses with alcohol on board, leaving one with a warm, fuzzy feeling at the end of the night.
P.S. excuse my lack of description in places, as I can safely say, I cannot recognise with my palate which alcohol was which, unless it was of course published on the website =P. Time to start sampling my way through different alcoholic drinks!