Love & Dysfunction

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by Mantis Kane @thezantidote

Love & Dysfunction is the brainchild of British publican Reg Ridealgh. Honing his industry skills whilst managing bars in the CBD, he made the big step to open a cocktail bar in St Kilda last year.

Inconspicuously positioned on Grey St near the corner of Inkerman/Barkly St, it’s just far enough not to be inundated with backpackers and suburban bar tourists. Walking in you get that speakeasy vibe; elegant Ottoman leather, crystal decanters, low lighting and swing music on the hi-fi. But scratch a little deeper and some eclectic touches move it into less obvious territory. There’s an undercurrent of cheeky kitsch. The menus aren’t the usual laminated splatter-proof print outs, instead they’re encased in quaint book covers from bygone eras, each one a different remnant from the past. Mine was a 1970’s dress making book cover – funny at first, then intensely poignant, as I realised all my clothes are mass produced in Chinese sweatshops and that craftsmanship is a thing of the past. I sobbed into my meticulously constructed Smoked Toffee Margarita, completely oblivious to the irony.

It’s this unique and unhomogenised approach to running a bar that sums up Love & Dysfunction: it’s got a quirky individualism, contrary to the cookie cut artisan gastro pop ups that plague our streets. To cement this point, lurking under the bar are Mexican skull hangers – a little self indulgent touch from the zombie loving proprietor. Like gatekeepers of integrity, they ward off IKEA furnishings or alco-pops entering the shelves – or perhaps just somewhere to put your coat.

The layout is a labyrinth of rooms, alcoves and secluded beer garden – a veritable wormhole that could swallow an evening without trace. Sit at the bar or skulk off to a corner. It’s got Tinder first-date written all over it – the perfect environment to case out a potential life partner whilst lacing them with strong cocktails and having a discreet exit strategy in place.

Things start to get serious with the drinks and food. The cocktails mix the vintage with the whacky. Variations on Martinis and modern classics provide an interesting read. Some of Reg’s elaborate, seemingly incongruent mixes are tried-and-tested, and demonstrate an undertow of savviness. The food supports the drinks with a well sourced grazing menu. Charcuterie boards, cheese boards, tasting plates, terrines and small dishes perfectly accompany the decent wine list that’s predominantly sourced locally.

With a new 1am weekend license (starting June) Love & Dysfunction fills a void in St Kilda’s drinking options: a late night cocktail bar that’s both playful and primo, and geared toward the local crowd.



103 Grey St

St Kilda



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