Move over Aperol! Bar Carlo transports you to Northern Italy with Leone, an aperitivo that’s imported exclusively by the Meyers Place bar
Until recently Leone, the popular favourite of town Bassano del Grappa, could only be found at select bars in northern Italy. But a love for the aperitivo and the bars of the region inspired Alana Sabbadini, granddaughter of Carlo Sabbadini – the famed owner of the Waiters Club Restaurant – to import it for serving up at Bar Carlo, her new bar in Meyers Place.
Situated just below the Waiters Club, Bar Carlo is Melbourne’s latest laneway bar. It continues Carlo Sabbadini’s legacy, tradition and spirit passed down from grandfather to granddaughter. The venue echoes the small cicchetti bars in Venice, opening morning until night, serving coffees to busy city workers as the day starts and snacks and drinks it winds on.
The authentic uncomplicated Italian flavours, hand-prepared Cicchetti and generous drinks – including the exclusively imported Leone – is what Italian bar culture is all about.
The story of how Leone came to be served at Bar Carlo is something of love affair between the the Sabbadini family and the delightful, red aperitivo. On each visit to Northern Italy, the family would stash as many bottles as they could fit in their suitcases to bring back to Melbourne, only bringing them out for special occasions. On one visit, the idea to import them back to Bar Carlo in Melbourne – the only place in Australia that serves the bright red drink – became a reality as Alana struck up an agreement with the makers themselves, to import and serve Leone.
Leone has the freshness of juniper berries giving it that unique thirst-quenching taste. Intense and delightful, the natural spices serve as a gentle digestive as well as a perfect after-dinner drink to clear the palate. Made from wine and grappa, it finds itself somewhere between Campari and Aperol, but with its own distinct character.
At the launch of Bar Carlo, Leone was the star of the evening, while the legacy of Carlo Sabbadini lingered in the air. Black walls create some mystery while the well-lit bar keeps the vibe friendly and inviting. Rows upon rows of Leone are stacked along the bar wall, injecting another Italian dimension to this authentic bar. Upbeat pop beats add another layer to the distinctly European feel of this laneway bar.
A Leone Spritz is handed to me on the way in and a stunning spread from the gods at Kind Island Dairy is displayed on the grazing tables. The spritz, made from Leone, prosecco, soda water, a slice of orange and an olive, is a delight to drink. The lightly fragrant taste is a delicious drop sipped between bites of King Island Dairy’s triple cream brie while a Leone drank neat over ice find its aromas perfectly paired with the ‘Roaring Forties’ blue cheese from the Tasmania cheese maker.
Bar Carlo makes an excellent after work or after dinner spot to carry on the conversation, with dark corners that offer a more intimate place to talk while the long bar is an inviting place for a group of friends to can carry on some lively chatter over drinks and snacks.
20 Meyers Place, Melbourne CBD
Monday 7am – 5pm
Tuesday – Friday 7am – 12am
Saturday – 5pm – 12am
Sunday – Closed