The Noble Experiment - 283 Smith St Collingwood
This three-year-old multi-level, innovative, 20’s inspired cocktail bar is situated right on the boundary of where Collingwood and Fitzroy collide. The Noble Experiment (TNE) is truly a bar for the adventurous, fun loving cocktail drinkers of Melbourne.
The bar is split into three distinctively different areas over three level. The downstairs being the main cocktail bar and restaurant area of establishment, low lit with exposed brick walls, booths and tables. While the upstairs semi-mezzanine like bar area has more of a classic speak-easy vibe to it, with large decorative lounge chairs and plush sofas and the lower level bar serving as a function area.
The exciting menu is forever changing and being replaced every 3 to 4 months with cocktails that are even more inventive and outlandish then the last (3 pages of the exciting menu from when I visited, for your eyeballs to view in the carousel below). I was first learnt about this establishment, when a friend of mine described this incredible gin and tonic she encountered one night that was served in a miniature bathtub, rubber-ducky and all. The novelty sparked my interest and so of course had to go try the place out for myself, and I was not disappointed.
Onto The Questions…
House gin: Beefeater
Most Popular Australian gin: Uniquely enough, The Noble Experiment only stocks one Australian gin, which is Thirty-Six Short Gin from South Australia (Which oddly enough, I had never tried before and am pleased I now have as it is a blood orange and juniper extravaganza).
Busiest night of the week: Thursdays through Saturdays
Least busy night of the week: Sundays through Wednesdays
Most popular gin cocktail(s): The classic Negroni, and their Bathtub Gin (which are coincidently their most popular cocktails in general)
If you could make your own gin what flavour profile would it have: Lemon thyme, three different types of orange (blood orange, Valencia, and navel oranges), grapefruit, two different types of lemons (Essentially a citrus explosion).
Now the star of the show, The Cocktails:
Of course I had to start with a Negroni (as always), but this one was a little bit different. The Noble Experiment uses their own house made vermouth blend which they mix with Beefeater gin and Campari and allow to age in barrels right there in the bar for anywhere between 6 to 8 months (season and weather dependant) taste testing each week until they get it just right. Served in individually chilled brown medicine bottles and a large square of TNE embossed clear ice and a twist of orange. Apart from feeling like I was in Alice in Wonderland with the little Negroni bottle reminding me of the ‘drink-me’ bottle and being amazed by just how slowly clear ice melts, the Negroni itself was everything I wanted it to be. It was sticky, sweet, bitter and citrus all at once and all at the right proportions, while still being able to taste those delicate herbal notes hidden within the vermouth. I have to say this is probably on of the best Negronis I have had in Melbourne so far, I don’t know if it was the house vermouth, the barrel aging or the clear ice that made it so special, but whatever it was, it was delightful. I would rate this Negroni an 8/10 because of how well balanced it was as a drink, that no one element of the cocktail overpowered the other.
The Martini was a delightful fresh citrus experience. Made with 36 Short blood orange gin, vermouth, orange bitters and a twist of orange, I can only really describe it as amazingly orangey (which sounds like a poor attempt of a description, but truly it was very orangey, in a good way of course). It was incredibly fragrant with vibrant citrus notes, crisp and delicate. I toughly enjoyed this martini, and would highly recommend it to all citrus and orange loving martini fans, it was great. All in all, I would rate it a 7/10 for having a strong dry citrus theme while still being well balanced and refreshing.
Seeing as I was recommended to try TNE because of the bath tub gin, it only seemed fair that I gave it a go. So the bath tub gin is literally a miniature bathtub (complete with rubber ducky and all) full of this fruity frothy concoction of beefeater, Lillet rose, lemon juice, cranberry bitters, lemonesque syrup and what is described on the cocktail menu as ‘grapefruit and rhubarb air’ (which is the frothy bubbles of the bathtub). The novelty of drinking a fresh fruity cocktail from a bathtub does not wear off, it is a lot of fun and tastes great, sweet and sour fruit flavours combine really well together. This is a drink for anyone looking for a bit of fun!
One last thing about TNE. While I did not try any G&Ts while I was there I have to say they looked incredible, each of their selected gins is uniquely paired with garnishes and tonic water to specifically to complement the character of the gin itself, before being exposed to liquid nitrogen pouring over the top lifting all those beautiful botanical volatiles right to your nostrils. Again, I didn’t try any of these but they looked out of this world, I will definitely be going back again to give some of these a go!!
The Noble Experiment is a bar that prides it self on being innovative pioneers of Melbourne’s cocktail bar scene and it truly is that, fantastically weird and wonderful drinks that both look incredible and will be sure to entertain but also taste delicious.
Highly recommend this bar to anyone in the area looking for something a bit exciting and different, but don’t worry all the classic cocktail lovers out there you will like it too, as these guys have an incredible understanding of the art and history of all your classic favourites, so be sure to give it a go.