Kodiak Club: Where Bourbon is King
Named after the infamous Alaskan bear, there is no doubt that Kodiak Club wears its heart on its sleeve. A major player in the Melbourne whiskey bar scene, Kodiak Club is in love with all things that come from the land of the free and the great white north. From the décor to the mind-blowing bourbon list, Kodiak draws inspiration from “the small neighborhood joints that define America's bar culture.”
Upon entering Kodiak Club, you are immediately transported from bustling Brunswick Street to a cozy stateside hangout with a large and inviting bar, communal tables and intimate booths. Beer and cider are served in the big red plastic cups we Australians’ so closely associate with American College films. It is not, however, beer or cider that draws us to Kodiak, it is bourbon we are after.
Kodiak Club is defined by its intricate knowledge and creative use of bourbon and rye whiskey. Rumors have been circulating around Melbourne’s inner north about a cocktail inspired by the Canadian Breakfast of bacon and maple syrup. Fortunately, the rumors are true. Invented by Lucien Sankey in early 2012, Kodiak Club infuse Buffalo Trace bourbon with bacon (a laborious process with astounding results) mix it with smoked maple syrup and Angostura bitters and serve it over a glistening chunk of hand cut ice to create the Smoked Bacon and Maple Syrup Old Fashioned. This cocktail is a sweet and smoky concoction with a lingering bacon aftertaste that (for lovers of bacon) does not disappoint.
The staff at Kodiak know their bourbon. If you are looking for a short education or introduction to this complex world, an American Whiskey Tasting Board is highly recommended. The Bourbon Styles board showcases the different varieties of bourbon on offer at Kodiak Club. Four half measures of bourbon are poured from four different distilleries highlighting four different styles – traditional, wheated, triple distilled and barrel proof. The drinker is guided through the characteristics and production processes of each by a knowledgeable and friendly member of the bar staff. The tasting boards make what seems like an overwhelming and somewhat unknown world appear approachable and easy to navigate allowing the novice bourbon drinker to understand the intricate flavors of the liquor and order their next round like a pro.
Melbourne has had a somewhat strained relationship with American Whiskey over the years, the height of its popularity being towards the latter stages of the Second World War with the arrival of the U.S. marines. Thankfully, Kodiak Club is pushing this interesting spirit to the forefront of our pallets.