I’m introduced to Melbourne bar State of Grace by the invitation to “imagine if Johnny Depp and Hunter S Thompson had a love child…” That proposition is intriguing and a bit unsettling at the same time. Grace is the result of that unholy union, blessed with Depp’s indie good looks and Thompson’s offbeat imagination, and christened in a font filled with dirty cocktails.
The upstairs bar isn’t backwards in coming forwards. Walk in to the 1889 building on Collins Street (the ‘New York end’) and it’s immediately in your face, waving its arms about and crying out for attention. Ornate gilt rococo mirrors and similarly splendid sofas make for a showy first impression. There’s a bit of a safari thing going on as well; the glaringly obvious question (that I unforgivably forgot to ask) is whether that giraffe’s head is a real one, a replica, or a figment of the imagination conjured up by one too many strong drinks. There’s a secret entrance somewhere at the back – it’s half the fun finding it – which leads down a staircase to Fall From Grace, a cellar bar with an even more debauched atmosphere and booths that practically encourage you to misbehave.