When Melbournians’ boast of the most livable city in the world, the historic winding laneways and hidden bars are almost guaranteed a mention. Melbourne’s newest late night venue strikes at the heart of that nostalgia, slotting seamlessly in to the classic Melbourne narrative. Hidden behind the iconic GPO building, down Driver Lane, a light above the doorway is all that identifies this underground hideaway. Descend beneath the laneway to another world of deep strumming blues, martinis, reimagined classic cocktails, and French-inspired bar food that will continue through to 3am, 7 days a week.
The venue and renovation
Our research indicates that the building was constructed in the early 19th century as the Money Order Office; a secure underground vault that was affiliated with the General Post Office, used to store the money. Throughout the renovation we have kept this rich history in mind, bringing the render and painted white walls back to the original beauty that once was. This has revealed beautiful red brick arches and structural columns which you simply can’t create from scratch.
“I’ve always believed that walking into a bar should be an empowering experience. When you sit at the bar you should feel like a kid in a candy shop, able to have anything you please. The outside world is forgotten and the worries of the day are washed away.” Says owner Hamish. The bar itself is a shrine to great products, highlighting the hard work and many hours that have put in to creating a plethora of spirits. There are no optical illusions or mirrors, just understated timber shelves that let the bottles do the talking.
The newest venture by Hamish Goonetilleke (Rum Diary Bar, Rum Diary Spiced Rum) is unashamedly a tribute to deep driving blues and a love of dark spirits. Boasting a 400-bottle back bar, a solid and respectable wine list sourced from Australia and Europe and 4 tap products on rotation, including a guest tap that will be reserved for showcasing independent and limited edition beers. The cocktail list is the brain child of global cocktail finalist, Jonathan Minihan (The Toff in Town), whose took inspiration from over a decade of experience, producing cocktails that walk the line of classic and contemporary. From a deconstructed Charlie Chaplan to a modern take on a Bees Knees, this cocktail list has something for everyone. Joining Jon is Venue Manager and backbone of the team, Reuben Powley (Melbourne Pub Group). Bringing nearly a decade of experience across Australia and New Zealand, Reuben’s strong work ethic and focus shines through immediately. A man of few words, Reuben says his driving ambition is ‘to make sure every person, whether it be the customer through to Hamish, walks away from the venue having had a great time’. Accompanying the epic cocktail and spirit collection will be a selection of casual, yet refined, French-inspired bar snacks by well-known Chef Danielle Rensonnet. The menu provides a selection of all the things you love to eat when enjoying a drink; cheese and charcuterie, parfait, a classic reuben sandwich, and consistently well-priced Oysters all night long. Danielle brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience (Bellota wine bar, Three One Two (by Andrew McConnel), and St Jude’s Cellars). The goal is to create a space where you can come and enjoy a high-quality drink and snack whenever it takes your fancy, from post work drinks through to 3am. Overall, there is no doubting that Beneath Driver Lane is the new kid on a block.
Address: Basement Driver Lane, Melbourne Hours: Mon to Thur 4pm-3am / Fri 2pm-3am / Sat & Sun 4pm-3am