Promise bar, behind Promise Cafe in Prahran, solves the problem of panic ordering when confronted with too many options on a cocktail menu.
The bar channels the prohibition era, with a speakeasy vibe and hidden entrance. Located between an underwear store and bike shop just a few doors down from Onesixone on High Street, the only sign this place exists from the street is a neon-blue arrow on one side of the awning. Enter through the cafe and you’ll reach a glass door, above which there’s a “Staff Only” sign.
Inside the vibe is one of dark romance, with skull motifs among leadlight windows and dark wood tables lit up by candlelight. And there’s no cocktail menu. Instead you’ll be handed a so-called Promise Card with options: light or dark spirit, or both; sweet, sour, bitter or savoury; type of base, such as tequila or whisky. You can also specify ingredients you don’t want in your drink. The bartender then “makes a custom cocktail based on your preferences.
That might be a salted-caramel Espresso Martini – its rim dusted with walnuts and reduced caramel – or a concoction of Four Pillars Navy Strength Gin, thyme, juniper berries, bitter cherry and anise myrtle, mixed in a beaker then infused with liquid nitrogen. It’s poured into a champagne flute and topped with ice and sparkling, garnished with a grapefruit twist and thyme.
As many ingredients are made on-site as possible, including ground powders, dehydrated fruits, syrups, freshly squeezed juices, cooked-down wines and vermouth. Food is limited to five toasties.