Smooth tunes, cool drinks, and hot pasta are on the menu at Bird’s Basement, Melbourne’s favourite jazz haunt.
Nestled down the perfectly named Singers Lane, Bird’s Basement Jazz Club is the sort of place you can settle in, relax, and be transported to another time. Dimly lit and intimate, the subterranean club oozes with bohemian cool – and with live music five nights a week, it is the perfect place to shake off the work day with some smooth jazz, soulful R&B, or rootsy blues.
Melbourne’s love affair with jazz is long and colourful, with popularity peaking in the 1960s when jazz clubs could be found dotted all over the CBD and the eclectic inner suburbs. Dark and smoky, these often hole-in-the-wall style clubs were the respite of the the city’s artistic, creative, and outsider communities, pumping haunting jazz cadences out into the laneways and alleys until the wee hours. The 80s and 90s saw a decline in jazz clubs, with iconic clubs like Toorak’s Fat Black Pussycat having long since shuttered.
Enter Bird’s Basement, part of a Melbourne jazz renaissance that has been hosting world class live music acts since it opened in 2016. Descend down the staircase from the venue’s chic lane way entry, and you enter the custom built space, designed for intimate performances, comfortable dining, and precision acoustics. Not just content with serving up the best of Australian and international music acts, Bird’s Basement’s Italian inspired menu is replete with all the classics. Whether you’re looking to graze on antipasti and sip on cocktails, indulge in a seductive bowl of spaghetti alla puttanesca paired with a bold red, or just take in some tunes with a tipple, there isn’t a bad seat in the house at Bird’s Basement.
With an extensive cocktail, beer, and wine list, you’ll be kept comfortably refreshed throughout the show. But, if you really want to sip in style, a sampling of Bird’s Basement’s new cocktail list – inspired by the greats of jazz and blues – is a must. Try the Sarah Vaughan, for an Aperol, tequila, and grapefruit soda cocktail that’s as sassy and sexy as its namesake, or if you want something a little more moody, hit up the Frank Sinatra. Like the man himself, this bold, brash, and always charming drop is a triple threat, blending Wild Turkey Rye Whiskey, Hennessy Cognac, and Cinzano Rosso tempered with Galliano Vanilla topped with both Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters.
I recently visited Bird’s Basement, and couldn’t go past the Nina Simone. Like the songstress herself, the gin, apple, and lemon palate was smooth, fresh, and evocative, and it paired beautifully with my Gnocchi ai Quattro Formaggi. Gnocchi with four cheeses? Sign me up! The sharpness of the Nina Simon cut through the richness of the cheese based gnocchi, enhancing the flavours and textures of both.
When you’ve satisfied your savoury and liquid needs, head on to the dessert menu for some sweet Italian delights, with a rich and classic tiramisu certain to end your dinner on a high note, or keeps things fresh and jazzy with a gelati or sorbet.
If all of these delicious dishes and smooth tunes have you looking for somewhere to rest your head, then you’ll be pleased to know that Bird’s Basement is part of the Jazz Corner Hotel complex. The chic and comfy hotel rooms are in the towers above you, complete with music themed decor and to-die-for views of the Melbourne skyline. We visited a little while back, and you can read all about it here.
If a night of great food, smooth cocktails, and killer tunes is right up your valley, then Bird’s Basement is the place to be for Melbourne’s cool cats.