Mornington’s Newest Cocktail Bar The Bon Vivant’s Companion

Mornington’s newest cocktail bar The Bon Vivant’s Companion, comes with a secret speakeasy entrance. Owner Tom Wicks swapped a decade of working in bars to finally opening his own on the Mornington Peninsula and brings premium spirits to the shelf.

It’s all about top notch spirits, crafted cocktails and concocting those with a vivacious twist in an ambitious plot to be anything but ordinary.

The Bon Vivant’s Companion is all about showcasing premium brands– where Aussie made vodka, gin and whisky are top shelf proud –  think esteemed makers like Lark, Starward, Archie Rose and Plantation to name a few you’ll find.

Tom Wicks talks The Write Drop for our At The Bar series.

MY CITY 

Melbourne is such an amazing city with a huge variety of great restaurants and bars. With Mornington only being 50 mins away, my wife and I travel up there frequently for gigs and the chance to try out new places we’ve heard about. Every time we tick off one place to visit we’ll hear about two more to go and try.

FAVOURITE FOOD MEMORY 

Lona Misa. I’m not vegan or vegetarian but the food that my wife and I had there blew our minds. The taste and texture that Shannon Martinez and her team can create is staggering. The compressed watermelon steak was life changing. We also just managed to get to Tedesca in Red Hill. It’s such a beautiful restaurant with a weekly rotating menu, fresh produce from their garden and the incredible knowledge of the staff – you can’t ask for much more. They invite you to engage in the space, going on walks around their garden in-between dishes, a chance to see the open kitchen as well as their outdoor smoker. It’s such an immersive experience.

FAVOURITE BAR

In Melbourne it’s Whisky & Alement at some stage of the night. Being a fan of whisky it’s great to pop in and try the new bottles they have in their massive selection. The staff are extremely knowledgeable and can talk you through every dram on the wall.

DRINK THAT DESCRIBES YOU

My variation of a Manhattan, I use a blend of Hellyers Road Pinot Noir Cask and Gospel Rye. It’s sweet, spicy and textural. Even people who usually don’t like whisky love this cocktail. I just want everyone to enjoy a dram in any way they can.

BEST HANGOVER CURE

A full pot of batch brew, hash browns, eggs and sunshine

BEST INTERSTATE BAR 

Mary Mary in Hobart. It’s such a beautiful intimate space. The service was phenomenal, and the drinks were perfectly balanced. Just around the corner, The Still is another jewel in the bars of Hobart. They got their hands on pretty much every Tasmanian whisky they can. It’s a one stop shop for the lovers of a dram.

FAVOURITE WINE 

My favourite wine I’ve had recently is the 2023 Viognier/Marsanne from Steels Gate in the Yarra Valley. The unique flavour that came out of the blend is amazing. My wife and I were lucky enough to stumble across it and as soon as I tasted it, I knew I had to get it in the bar.

FAVOURITE WINERY 

We’re obviously so fortunate to live in a premier wine region, so it can change a bit. At the moment, it would have to be Stonier. Since it’s been taken over by a group of local families, they’ve really brought in a lovely atmosphere. Cosying up by the fire, sipping on a beautiful glass of Pinot and tucking into a beautiful selection of cheeses, what more could you ask for.

NEXT DESTINATION 

New Zealand. We’re very keen to check out all we can while we’re over there from Caretaker in Auckland to Felton Road down in Otago.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO OPEN YOUR OWN BAR

Over the last few years, it’s been amazing to see the quality of craft spirits that are coming out of Australia. I wanted to showcase these distilleries and how they make their own stamp on different spirits, through this highlighting their work through a variety of curated cocktails. It’s always been a dream to open up my own place. I love a small cosy and intimate space where you can sit with friends with a quality drink in hand and I didn’t want to have to make the trek up to the city every time to be able to enjoy that experience. I really wanted to create a venue where you walk in and feel in awe of what’s around you but at the same time it feels familiar and inviting.

WHAT DO YOU BRING TO THE MORNINGTON PENINSULA

The Mornington Peninsula is already a great food and drink spot, we want to add to what is already available by bringing a space that hones premium spirits and cocktails. Set in an intimate space, it’s warm and inviting. The venue is a place to settle in for the night with your friends and loved ones, enjoying quality time and drinks.

 WHAT’S ON THE COCKTAIL LIST

Bon Vivant’s menu is split into four sections: Signatures, Renditions, Seasonal, and Sweet. Our focus on our cocktails is featuring spirits, techniques and fresh ingredients. I love the style of boozy old-world cocktails, but bringing a modern twist to them.  A new winter cocktail is a cascara and barrel aged ginbased drink. Usually, we’d just put a lovely garnish on the cocktail, but with this we found the cherry and raisin flavour from the cascara pairs beautifully with a gruyere cheese that we have on our menu. We thought why not just have a few slices of that on the side of the drink.

SPIRITS THAT YOU’RE LOVING RIGHT NOW

Whisky – Hillwood, Bakery Hill, Waubs Harbour, Belgrove.

Gin – Saint Felix, Imperial Measures, Seven Seasons, Poltergeist.

Vodka – Old Youngs, Hartshorn, Penni Ave.

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