At The Bar with Emily Ulman – Program Director at ALWAYS LIVE.

If ALWAYS LIVE Program Director Emily Ulman was a playlist, she’d be shuffling between the genres, and ever hooked on the soundtracks that shape our lives and leave an indelible mark we can’t stop listening to.

In her epic role, she’s the reason we have some of the biggest names coming to Melbourne over a 17-day event calendar this November and December – think Christina Aguilera and UK singer/songwriter Jesse Ware to name but two.

Christina Aguilera – ALWAYS LIVE exclusive show in Melbourne on November 25th.

There’s Amyl and the Sniffers traversing the regional cities of Victoria, a Taylor Swift tribute featuring Clare Bowditch and Lisa Mitchell plus Kate Miller-Heidke and Peter Garrett and The Alter Egos plus Budjerah and Temper Trap.

Jesse Ware appearing at ALWAYS LIVE

Ulman talks to The Write Drop for our At The Bar Series – from Thornbury lasagne pitstops to a caretaker’s cottage in the CBD where she goes for cocktails, to a winery with a sculpture park on the Mornington Peninsula, she’s got the grid and beyond covered.


Melbourne. It’s like the cool kid at the party who hangs out in the kitchen near the sink full of beers that everyone wants to hang out with. The laneways are like secret passages to foodie + bakery havens. The coffee or hot chocolates here are like a religious experience, and don’t even get me started on the live music scene – it’s the heartbeat of this place.


Have you ever had 1800Lasagne? Take your taste buds on a journey more epic than Frodo’s. Who needs a ring when you have a fork.


You know it’s a good bar when the memories are a bit blurry, and you find confetti in your pockets the next morning. You’ll find lots of these hazy days (and me) at Dom’s in Melbourne. Gorgeous staff, rooftop, pizza and free pool.


If I were a wine, I’d be a Pet Nat—playful, a bit effervescent, and cheekily unfiltered. Cheers to bringing the fizz and natural quirks to Melbourne’s cultural scene.


Ah, the morning after a Melbourne night out. The Lincoln’s Bloody Mary is practically the cure-all potion. It’s like they distilled the essence of recovery into a glass—spicy, tangy, and a sure-fire way to kick that hangover into the hair of the dog.


Dear Saint Eloise in Sydney is my go-to interstate gem. The ambience is pure elegance, and the wine selection is exquisite. Each bottle tells a story of flavours, making it a haven for wine lovers. Plus, the food selection is a delicious complement to the outstanding vintages. It’s like the long-lost sibling of Melbourne’s coolest bars—equally suave, just with a bit of that Sydney sass.


Lately, I’ve been hooked on anything from the new player in town, Pool Wines. It’s not your run-of-the-mill stuff. The flavours are a little bit chaotic, very creative, fun and yum.


When it comes to wineries, Pt Leo Estate is my top pick. The standout feature is their sculpture garden, which adds to the overall experience. Picture yourself savouring a glass of their exceptional wine amidst an outdoor gallery of world class sculptures while you look out across the Western Port Bay. Pt Leo Estate is more than just a winery—it’s a breathtaking cultural and aesthetic encounter. Take me back there!


Caretaker’s Cottage is my favourite newish kid on the Melbourne block. Housed in a stunning historic bluestone cottage, a former caretaker’s quarters tucked away since 1914, this angel hideaway offers perfect cocktails and delicious snacks in a historical fairytale setting.


Every year delivers a new career highlight. And this year, it’s exclusive Melbourne performances for ALWAYS LIVE by Zach Bryan, Eric Prydz, Jai Paul and the one and only Christina Aguilera. Melbourne’s music scene has given me moments that eternally makes me feel like a rockstar. It’s a wild ride, and I’m just here for the encore.


Alright, buckle up for the ride! ALWAYS LIVE is like the lovechild of a music festival and a surprise party – it’s a 17 celebration of contemporary live music across the state of Victoria. Live music performed in ways and in places you may not have expected. You never know what’s coming, but you’re guaranteed a good time. It’s the kind of event that makes you go, “Wait, did that just happen?” Nov 24 – Dec 11.


The incredible music community. I get to work alongside the best in the business; people who are experts in their fields and lift me up so I can do the same for others. Lucky me. Also, I get a backstage pass to the soundtrack of Victoria. It’s like being the DJ of a never-ending party where the playlist is as diverse as the street art in Fitzroy. Every day is a new gig, and I’m just riding the wave – or should I say, the bassline…

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