Located in the very inland Lygon Street in Carlton, The Carlton Yacht Club is named in honour of Sam Nelson, who owned the importing company formerly located where the bar is today and whose passion was yachting. The bar’s website describes Nelson as an eccentric man, who had envisioned creating a canal between the Yarra River and Curtain Square in Carlton! This innovative man’s dream never came true, but having this bar named for his dream is a nice tribute. They have noted on their website that they know little about boats or clubbing, and along with the funny descriptions of their cocktails on their drinks menu, it is obvious the people running this bar have a sense of humour, making the place instantly likeable.
The Carlton Yacht Club is a small, but comfortable bar with mostly patrons in their 20s and 30s. Many of the younger customers, as well as the bartenders, seemed to be uni students, so this is bar that would probably be a hot spot for those wanting to let off some steam from hitting the books. The young bartenders are really friendly and chatty, and very casual about their job (one of them as wearing a just a singlet on top!) The customers were pretty casually dressed too, so just a pair of jeans and a nice jacket is all you really need to wear. The small yacht models and other boat-related things hanging on the walls remind patrons of the site’s history, as well an interesting picture of how whisky is distilled in a factory, and pictures of 1940s movie stars along the likes of Clark Gable, Vivian Leigh, and Humphrey Bogart. There are small tables as well as couches for people to drink at, and the red lamps around the venue make it dimly lit, giving the place a sense of mystery. Add all the Beatles songs that were being played at the time to the equation and you will see that it is very easy to get into the feel of the place.
Being on the upscale Lygon Street, it is not surprising that The Carlton Yacht Club’s drinks list is very impressive; it was certainly the main drawing card for me to come and take a look. The drinks list is available on their website, but also listed just next to the entrance to entice people walking on by to come in. Various wines, bourbons like Wild Turkey, Jim Beam, and Slate, whiskeys like Canadian Club and Johnny Walker, tequilas like El Jimador, beers (both local and imported ones) like James Boags, Samuel Adams, and Carona, are just some of the many drinks on offer here. But the numerous cocktails are the headlining drinks here.
While The Carlton Yacht Club has classic cocktails such as Manhattans, Mai Tais, and Bloody Marys, many of the cocktails seem to have funny names and hilarious descriptions on The Carlton Yacht Club’s menu. Their names range from being named after music icons such as Notorious B.I.G., Phil Collins, and Bob Marley, and actors like Charlie Chaplin and Joan Collins, or named after movies and TV shows like Rocky and Bullwinkle, Family Guy, and Moulin Rouge, and the Jamaican Me Crazy sees that even cheesy pick up lines get a nod on the cocktails list.
While not usually a cocktail drinker, the one cocktail that stood out for me among this impressive list was the venue’s very own Death by Tim Tam. Who doesn’t love Tim Tams? Now imagine them mixed with vodka and Baileys (among other things). Needless to say, this self-described “nutritionist’s nightmare” was awesome! This alcoholic milkshake can be summed up in a word: yum! The bartender told me that there would be a riot if they stopped serving this drink; if such a riot were to occur, I would be there with guns blazing! But if you are not into Tim Tams enough to start slaughtering those around you, then there are plenty of other drinks on offer for you to enjoy.
Originally published here at barsandnightclubs.com.au on Monday 28 March 2011