In such a saturated and competitive market, it’s rare to see a hospitality venue with an original concept, which is why we were so excited for the recent opening of the innovative Pearl Diver Cocktails and Oysters (PDCO). The Speakeasy Groups young entrepreneurs Alex Boon and Pez Collier have joined forces to produce-driven cocktails and the freshest oysters from around Australia. The dynamic duo enjoyed a successful soft launch a couple of weeks ago with the grand opening soon after to an eager and excited crowd following Melbourne’s long and gruelling lockdown 6.0.
“Across both the food and beverage offering it’s really important for us to showcase the freshest and highest quality products and ingredients available at any given time and be respectful of the amazing work of producers, be it on the farm, in the vineyard, or the oyster estuary” say co-owner Collier.
The cocktail offering developed by Boon, one of the country’s most respected bartenders is set to change with the seasons and like the approach to food, will highlight the best in local produce partnered with innovation and creativity.
A selection of ‘House’ cocktails, undeniably Boon’s handiwork, highlights his signature flair for unassuming presentation masking deep complexity in flavour and care of single ingredients. The Pearl Diver, the bars namesake drink, is a classic Tiki cocktail invented by famous Bartender Don the Beachcomber. It includes a medley of rums, lime and lemon juice, orange juice and what is called a Gardenia Mix; a syrup composed of butter, spices and honey creating a textural and moreish libation. Boon has taken the elements of this cocktail, broken them down and rebuilt the drink to create a signature PDCO favorite.
Another cocktail you’ll find on the opening PDCO menu is the Coconut + Yuzu. A complex, bright and rich mixture of coconut washed Pisco, yuzu verjuice, vanilla and pink peppercorn, shaken with fresh passionfruit and a splash of lime. Served over a large rock of ice in a snow white ceramic mug, the cocktail embodies the fresh and vibrant approach the PDCO team have to the cocktails they create.
Although the menu has been created to encompass ‘bright, fresh and vibrant’ drinks, Boon has also made sure there’s cocktails on the menu for any drinker, including those who like a more boozy sipper. The Peanut Butter + Jelly is just that. A rendition on the famous Sazerac cocktail washed with peanuts and brown butter with the addition of a berry consomme and raspberry Cognac that gives this cocktail a nostalgic twist.
Supporting the unique cocktail list, the rest of the beverage offering focuses on delivering a fun, fresh and vibrant drinking experience for all guests.
Collier’s philosophy for the wine list was simple, “Is it fun, is it delicious?”. The wine offering will be concise but dynamic with 50 wines changing regularly, from bright and aromatic whites to funky pet- nats, savoury reds and everything in between, all selected with the same dedicated purpose and attention to flavour to that of Boon’s cocktail offering.
“At PDCO we champion oysters and their terroir with the same level of detail and respect that you would find a sommelier talking about wine or a bartender talking about spirits; but more than anything we aim to create a fun and memorable experience.” says Co-Owner Boon.
Oysters are presented in three styles, natural, dressed and cooked, while the signature serve is a natural oyster doused in ice cold PDCO martini aptly named the ‘Drunken Oyster’.
Though oysters hold a definitive place at PDCO, the food offering rounds out Boon and Collier’s fresh take on hospitality. Reminiscent of a New Orleans Oyster bar meets laid back French wine bar, the ‘Not Oysters’ menu features Salt Cod Beignets with garlic butter, Steak Tartare with oyster cream, Wagyu ‘Philly’ cheese steak and Waffle fries with comtè among the clever selection that make perfect sense in the venues fit out.
Located in the Theatre District at the top end of the Melbourne CBD, PDCO underwent a six-month renovation and has emerged a space that will undoubtedly play host to a relaxed but lively crowd when it opens Wednesday 10th November. The 100-seater is divided into comfortable banquets, bar seating, high tops and an impressive shared table that doubles as a private dining room, featuring an iced oyster well running its length.
Bathed in natural light from the Little Bourke street facing façade, PDCO’s high concrete ceilings are fitted with stylish drapery ensuring that while lively, the venue is never uncomfortably noisy. Wooden panelling, textured motifs and soft furnishings adorn the cohesive space while the stunning bar, synonymous with the groups other venues (they also own Eau-de-ie, Nick & Nora’s, Boilermaker House and Mjolner) takes centre stage.
As Melburnians rejoice in their newfound freedom, we highly recommend a visit to PDCO – powered by Impos. The only upside to Melbourne’s latest lockdown, is we can surely expect a boomer Summer for our beloved hospitality industry. We might see you there for a cocktail or 3!