A new Ballarat bar is taking patrons back to a chapter in American history when it was illegal to consume or sell alcohol.
The 18th Amendment Bar opened at the start of July in the space formally occupied by The Lost Ones Bar in Camp Street.
We spoke to operations manager Damien Kos-Beckwith about the bar’s unique offering, which he described as a “concoction of prohibition elegance interlaced with modern innovation”.
Tell us the story behind The 18th Amendment Bar…
“The 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution effectively established the prohibition of alcoholic beverages in the United States by declaring the production, transport and sale of alcohol illegal from 1920 until 1933.
Not to be deterred, the bootleggers and back door bartenders created a rapidly growing world of illegal ‘speakeasy’ venues across America that created and served some of the most well-known classic cocktails that we enjoy to this day.
The speakeasies of New York and Chicago became a dark and mysterious business where gangsters seduced people of all classes with jazz, lust, love and, of course, booze.
Gorge and Lee-Anne Camorra opened The 18th Amendment Bar in Geelong at the end of July 2017 and, from opening night, we have been taken aback by the support and patronage of the Geelong public. We won ‘Best Regional Bar’ in 2018 and 2019 at theBartender Magazine Australian Bar Awards (and are hoping to bring it home again in 2020), which has spurred us on to expand the brand and Ballarat was the right place to open our second venue.”Image
“The move to Ballarat was a rather easy one. I had been keeping an eye on the Ballarat scene for a year or two prior to finding the right location.
We believe the timing is right for Ballarat’s hospitality scene to start to expand and we’re extremely impressed with some already open (or almost open) venues! We Love Pancho, The Comfort of Strangers, Volta and The North Star Hotel. It’s venues like these that can band together and really show the rest of Victoria what Ballarat can do.
From the moment we walked down the lane towards The Lost Ones, we knew the vibe was right. That hidden feeling, the awe of “what am I walking into?” is something we worked hard to get in Geelong but Ballarat already has it. We have only done small renovations to The Lost Ones, most of those being cosmetic, just to give the venue a similar feel to our Geelong location.”
What can people expect from The 18th Amendment?
“The 18th Amendment is all about the experience. Customers can expect to be walking into a relaxed environment where we offer full table service.
The cocktail menu is extensive, offering many great choices for all palates. A bit of theatrics from the cocktails can also be expected. Did someone say Instagrammable?”
Tell us about your impressive line-up of spirits and cocktails…
“One of the offerings that sets us apart from other bars in the area is our expansive spirit selection. We are opening with over 100 gins and over 100 whiskies, totalling over 400 spirits ranging from $10 a nip through to $200 a nip for those who know what they like.
Any classic cocktail can be ordered and our menu has around 20 cocktails which have been curated from previous lists we have had in Geelong. There will also be a range of non-alcoholic cocktails for those who may not drink or are driving that evening. These are not the simple mocktail of cranberry and apple with lime – these are curated and designed to resemble classic cocktails but with no alcohol.”Image
Will you be hosting workshops or special events in Ballarat?
“We most definitely will be hosting masterclasses as well as cocktail classes in Ballarat. To find out more information, people can join our Spirits Club (via our website) which gets first access to all masterclasses before the events go live to our social media channels.”
And, finally, what’s the secret to The 18th Amendment’s success?
“The staff. Anyone can build a gorgeous venue with a large selection of spirits, but having great staff that are passionate to learn and with hospitality in their blood is what makes our venues successful.
We are very proud to have kept the staff from The Lost Ones and, during the COVID lockdown, we have been upskilling them. The passion they have is incredible and they have made us even more excited about the Ballarat venture.”
The 18th Amendment Bar
14 Camp Street, Ballarat