Fermentation, 2019’s culinary craze, is a trend that a growing number of cocktail bars have embraced as a badge of invention. But one bar in Melbourne hopes to prove it’s not quite like the others. For Byrdi, a new CBD bar by Luke Whearty of Singapore’s Operation Dagger (ranked 30 on the World’s Best Bars list) and partner Aki Nishikura, the pairing of alcohol plays second fiddle to unusual experimentations of locally sourced produce. “It’s mainly ingredient-driven,” Whearty says. “I’m always focused on the raw item first rather than the spirit.”
Open from 10am to 1am daily, Byrdi proffers a 21-drink menu highlighting ingredients that have been broken down or enhanced by methods such as smoking, distillation and, of course, fermentation. Glass canisters of lacto-fermented berries, pickled fennel and almond blossom vinegar are some examples hidden in the back of this moody watering hole, where drinks are served in a 120m2 industrial-meets-executive-apartment space at Ella, an upscale food precinct on the corner of Elizabeth and La Trobe Streets.