At The Bar with Ben Luzz – owner of Gin Palace with a Pop-Up at Victoria By Farmer’s Daughters

A refurbishment of an iconic cocktail venue in Melbourne has given birth to the pop-up spirited dreams are made of. Enter Gin Palace at Victoria by Farmer’s Daughters this January – where the Terrace Bar at Federation Square is firmly in the hands of those behind the prized laneway bar on dedicated weekends only.

Gin Palace owner Ben Luzz and acclaimed Executive Chef/Owner of Farmer’s Daughters, Alejandro Saravia, have known each other for the best part of a decade. It made perfect sense they’d come together to fuse cocktails and a love of local all in the name of Christmas cheer and raising a classy glass this time.

“We felt Victoria by Farmer’s Daughters would be the perfect place for us to shake some tins while our little institution was undergoing a facelift in January 2024,” says Ben Luzz.

“Alejandro’s ethos is the same as ours,” he adds. “It’s all about making sure guests have the best time possible and we both pride ourselves on service and generosity.”

This effervescent approach is instantly felt in the cocktail list you’ll find terrace side this summer.

“Our team has put together a concise list of classic cocktails including our famous 90ml Martini along some contemporary offerings to suit Melbourne in January on a beautiful terrace,” he says. “Think upgrades on a spritzes and a Pimm’s cup adaptation.”

Luzz is also behind the city bar Black Kite Commune which opened in March this year – with a heavy nod to Australian ingredients at his Russell Place location. Think table service cocktails and wine bar.

Ben Luzz spoke to us at The Write Drop for our At The Bar series.

Gin Palace comes to Victoria By Farmer’s Daughters Terrace Bar this January 2024.
Ben Luzz photograph by Dean Schmideg

MY CITY

I am proud to say I am Melbourne born and bred and love this city. Outside of living in London for several years, I’ve always called Melbourne home. We are a beautiful melting pot of culture which has given rise to a vibrant and eclectic maze of food and drink offerings.  I love the adaptability of Melbourne. Over the last decade or so we now have bars in parks, floating bars and multiple rooftops alongside basement dens and comfy venues that suit the more frequent moody months. One of the beautiful things about Melbourne is its institutions. We have much loved venues that have stood the test of time. Destination venues like Pellegrini’s, Grossi Florentino, The European, and Degraves are part of Melbourne’s hospitality soul.

FAVOURITE FOOD MEMORY

Probably sounds corny, but the best moments happen when sitting around a large table with friends, great food with wine and laughs. Could be at a house, restaurant or a park – it doesn’t really matter as long as the best people are there. And they’re usually the friends I’ve met through my years in hospitality.

FAVOURITE BAR 

Current company excluded I would have to say Embla. Their food and drinks offerings are on point, their service is impeccable and they’ve nailed the ambience. Deservedly one of the best bars in the Melbourne.

DRINK OR WINE THAT DESCRIBES YOU

Maybe a Zombie as it’s 50% alcohol and 50% sweet, sweet good times.

BEST HANGOVER CURE

A bottle of coconut water followed closely by a Red Snapper (a gin Bloody Mary). I like to make mine with tomato juice, a healthy squeeze of lemon juice, a large pinch of salt and pepper, a dash of Pinot Noir, generous dose of Tabasco sauce and of course a solid slug of gin. I make a crust of oregano, chilli flakes and sea salt to rim the glass and garnish with a cherry tomato and anchovy Gilda. And eat fried rice!

BEST INTERSTATE BAR

Cantina OK in Sydney nails the hospitality vibe. Intimate, friendly and welcoming

DRINK OF THE SUMMER

I’ve been drinking equal parts Gin and Cocchi Americano on ice with a few dashes of orange bitters and an orange zest. Very refreshing and reassuringly boozy.

 

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