First look: Pearl Diver, a glowing new oyster and cocktail bar in the Central Business District

2021-11-12 08:53:17 By : Ms. Aimee Chow

Alex Boon and Pez Collier have an 82-page document detailing every element of Pearl Diver Cocktails & Oysters (PDCO), which will open in the former Annan Space this Wednesday.

The venue is the result of the Speakeasy Group partnership program, which allowed directors Greg Sanderson and Sven Almenning to mentor the duo for a year during the opening of the PDCO. (Speakeasy is ranked behind Eau de Vie, Mjolner, Boilermaker House and Nick & Nora's.)

"Honestly, it's like a shark tank," Collier said of the process. "All eight candidates have put forward their business proposals. Since then, we have had some public discussions among our partners, and the winner was announced about a year ago."

Speakeasy donated $250,000 to turn Boon and Collier's PDCO vision into reality-up to 90% of the cost-in a 50/50 partnership. With the delay of Covid, it has been brewing for two years.

"We broke the whole idea-all the way to the knife, fork and coaster," Boone said. "This is really helpful for our architecture and design, because all of this has been on paper from the beginning."

It was a six-month Reno process, and interior designer Y Studio balanced the hard concrete finishes with flowing drapery and plush charcoal benches. Scanlan & Makers focused on the inside of the oyster shell when developing the palette, giving the wall a calm ocean feel. They are decorated with paintings of ships at sea and four menus of ships from the early 1900s. The private restaurant (up to 16 people) will see 1.2-meter-long oysters displayed on a slender table with two built-in ice wells.

As the bartending director of Speakeasy Group (and the Australian champion of Diageo's 2019 world-class competition), Boon is in charge of cocktails. He created a version of the venue's eponymous cocktail—the pearl diver inspired by Tiki—as the signature drink. It features Bacardi Carta Oro rum, Tasmanian honey, butter, spices, pink grapefruit and other citrus, poured into a pearl diver style glass with a narrow ribbed bottom.

"We really tried to modernize tropical cocktails and upgrade them a little bit," Collier said. "We may look at something whose name has been tainted, such as a hurricane, break it down into its core components, and then rebuild it with the best materials."

The team also worked with local manufacturers to redesign some classic cocktails. Martini was developed in cooperation with the Mordialloc winery Saint Felix and uses gin made from oyster shells and wakame. It is paired with Maidenii vermouth and white Quincy flowers, plus spherical liquid olives-made with Sicilian olives and queen olives, lemon thyme and garlic-on a small rock oyster shell.

Collier's philosophy in providing wine is to keep it "interesting and delicious." The top 50 list is divided into local, French and Italian bottles-from trendy pét-nats to Beaujolais.

As for those oysters, there are two rocks and two Pacific Oceans available. There are three seasonings to choose from (apple, fennel and cucumber; whipped cream and caviar; or lemon granita and lemon balm), and three cooked foods (one of Kilpatrick; Rockefeller with warrigal vegetables; or with sauce Fried in sauce).

The "non-oyster" menu is also the dream of snack lovers. Look forward to salted cod beigne with sorrel cream; duck meat sauce with foie gras; char-grilled octopus with harissa sauce; a roll of Toulouse sausage; and waffle fries snow, grated conde.

"It's more about snacking while drinking," Collier said, "rather than a three-course sit-down atmosphere."

Pearl Diver Cocktails & Oysters opened on Wednesday, November 10th.

Pearl Diver Cocktails & Oysters 56 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne

Time: Tuesday to Thursday 5pm–12am, Friday and Saturday 3pm–1am