Audacious Monk opened in 2016 yet there’s something about the bar and bottleshop that makes it feels timeless. Sitting on what’s quite literally the boundary of Preston and Reservoir, the neighbourhood haunt is the work of David Vass and Caz Scholtz who, after long careers in the alcohol industry, wanted their own spot in which to share their love of craft beer and fine wine with the community.
The moment you walk in and spot a bar built with scraps gathered from construction sites that’s as much an art installation as a spot from which to serve customers, you get the sense it’s a little outside the ordinary. Beyond that bar are five clocks set to time zones where great civilisations, great booze or great discoveries were launched. Naturally, one’s always set to Preston; the centre of the known universe.
Then there’s the old theatre props, movie posters and a wall dedicated to some of history’s most important scientific thinkers, complete with the Rosalind Franklin quote: “Science and everyday life cannot, and should not, be separated.”
It’s all part of the Audacious belief in helping people discover better alcohol, one well surmised in their motto of “Critical Thinking, Critical Drinking”. If it’s beer you want to discover, Audacious Monk’s shelves and fridges are focused completely on the local, with the vast majority of what the venue stocks Victorian and all of it independent.
That’s not to say you’ll find anything and everything on there as the list is carefully curated. In a modern beer world where there’s a drive to have everything – and for many beer drinkers to try everything – there’s something particularly refreshing about being guided by David, Caz and their team as to what they think will excite you.
When it comes to other drinks, wine is approached with an equal devotion and shares that curated approach. You’ll find much that’s Australian but, for anyone looking to expand their palate, there’s no shortage of less common varieties and international producers as well. The craft spirits list is kept rather tight, with a focus on small producers, while you’ll also find shelves well stacked with chocolates, preserves and other snacks – all sourced locally, of course.
If drinking in is what you’re after – and there’s many good reasons to make such a decision – four taps are on constant rotation, plus wines by the glass and, for a small corkage fee, you can enjoy whatever’s on the shelves.
There’s a largesse of cosy spots in which to enjoy those drinks too, with the bar side of the business feeling a little like a friend’s place if your friend possessed a collection of comfortable furniture and a cellar filled with some of the best drinks around. Assuming your friend has neither, the Audacious Monk is there for you.
An arcade machine and board games are there if conversation ever dries up, while the deck out back soaks up enough sun to make settling in for a session an irresistible option. And that’s something that speaks to Audacious Monk’s timelessness as a bar and bottleshop: even the clocks on the wall might not be enough to save you from whiling the hours away.