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We’ve all wanted to fall down the rabbit hole into Wonderland at some point in our lives. The owners of Melbourne bar StoryVille, Steve Thomas and Keti Kezunovic have done just that. “We wanted to open a bar that ignites this childlike wonder where nostalgia and imagination are free to run wild,” says founder Keti Thomas.
Steve and Keti have plenty of experience with the fantasy theme. Prior to opening StoryVille – where they also run weekly fun paint and sip classes in Melbourne – the pair were part of the team that founded Melbourne drinking spots 29th Apartment, a New York City apartment-inspired venue, and Pawn & Co, a unique bar where everything is for sale. Both small bars quickly became hits with the locals due to their outside-the-box themes. StoryVille is no different, everything in the venue is inspired by a theme. Examining the menu, you’ll find some familiar fantasy stories like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, A Clockwork Orange and the works of Dr. Seuss reimagined in food or drink form.
The inspiration for StoryVille came from the fairytales and fantasy stories the founders were told as kids. Realising everyone would remember and connect with the stories from their childhood, the duo decided to open a bar that would bring these stories back to life and ignite the big kid in everyone. Set on Londsdale Street in Melbourne, the bar literally turns your fantasy dreams into reality. With a website warning, "not for the faint of heart", the drinks are super inventive: think the infamous Polyjuice potion but in cocktail form. Your cocktail experience will always be distinctive, and the venue encourages you to embrace the ever-changing themes like Harry Potter, Tinkerbell, and Cinderella.
Every drink on the StoryVille cocktail menu has its own magical creation story. The signature list of drinks are based on and inspired by the concoctions referenced in famous literature. From buttered beer, to drinks served in cauldrons, cocktails presented in teapots steaming with dry ice, and anything that the mixologist or "potion mastermind" Zac Matassoni can dream up.
Their inventive cocktail menu is just another way for them to help transport the guest into the fantasy realm. ”Combining this inspiration with the adult spin of cocktails, entertainment and dancing the goal was to create a wonderland for big kids,” says Keti. Take Charlie’s Winning Ticket, which is inspired by Charlie Bucket winning the Golden Ticket in the Roald Dahl novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. “Whatever your fancy, we’ve a tipple to suit while you rediscover the curious child within and experience the wonder as your most inspirational literary works come to life around you,” says Keti.
Their signature weekly paint and sip class is called Tipples and Tints. The class is ideal for all skill levels and not only do you get to take your artwork home, you also get a cocktail and all the art materials you'll need to create your masterpiece. The class is taught by a professional artist who has over 12 years of teaching experience under his belt and loves to use free flowing lines and shapes to capture the spirit of his subject.
Since they've opened, StoryVille have hosted a wide range of experiences ranging comedy shows, to magic shows and even cocktail masterclasses. For their paint and sip class they wanted something completely unique that would give their guests an incredible experience. Tipples and Tints is hosted in a Narnia inspired lounge fitted out with a gigantic birdcage, magical toadstool bar and cosy fireplace to make their guests feel as though they're immersed in a fantasy world. They’ve included a cocktail as part of their tipples and tints experience, while the toadstool bar is open well into the early hours of the morning so people will stay and dance after class.
Each week the theme of the paint and sip class changes based on a different piece of literature. "For instance, last week we did the ‘drink me’ bottle from Alice in Wonderland," says Keti. Everyone paints the same image on the day so that no matter your level of painting experience your artwork is almost guaranteed to turn out beautifully. There is no skill set required to attend a Tipple and Tints class, which means everyone can enjoy a fun fantasy-filled evening over a cocktail. Even Keti's puppy Peanut has come along to help out for a fantasy themed photoshoot, "which goes to show that the class really is suitable for all skill levels," says Keti.
Tipples and Tints runs every week and can also be booked for private events of up to 15 people. Tickets are $59 per person.