Volstead Union is the brain child of Clarence’s finest. Lloyd Smith, owner and operator, and two of his most trusted and most knowledgeable staff; Chris Ford and Michael Memeo, are bringing Perth its newest and most innovative pop up venue; Volstead Union.
Volstead comes from a need for the three of them to give Perth something different, and a way to be really creative and bring people a great destination without the restraints of an established venue. It gives them the opportunity to show their passion while throwing caution to the wind.
I spoke to Chris and Michael about why Perth needs this, what they’re trying to achieve and what everyone can expect from this Saturday night.
Where did the name Volstead come from and why does it represent what you’re trying to achieve?
Chris: The Volstead Act is the act of Prohibition in the US and the Volstead Union was a group of people in Perth who banded together to make booze accessible. Each night it would move from house to house. It was the original pop up.
Michael: My grand nan actually ran a speakeasy on Newcastle St in the ’20s. The Volstead Union were a group of people who had good drinks and wanted to share it with other people. This kind of venue is (in?) my blood.
Why this venue?
Chris: The venue is gagging to be turned into a bar. It’s such a beautiful venue; it’s exactly what I imagined Volstead to be. Tom, the owner, has been instrumental behind the scenes, making this happen. Without Tom, Volstead wouldn’t happen.
Michael: It has character, you have to discover it. It’s down an alley way and it’s not actually a bar. It only holds 44 people and it’s like a bit of hide and seek.
Why should someone ditch their favourite Saturday night spot for you guys?
Michael: We’ve got some really good, new, funky wines, from both international and local suppliers and most of the wines we’re serving are all natural, which you wouldn’t usually see.
Chris: We’ve also got high end cocktails; we’re using the Negroni recipe that won ’Best in the World 2014′ and we’ve got a good mix of beers too.
Michael: We want to be about great wines and cocktails for a lower price. We want people to be able to experience things without such a high price tag. This is a space where people can learn about what they want to drink without having to pay a high price for a drink.
Why do I need another venue to drink at?
Chris: A lot of venues are constrained by margins, for us it’s about removing the price barrier and offering a really good product and an extremely reasonable price.
Beaufort St is about new things, new experiences and new faces. We want to reassert the individualism that used to dominate, that’s now missing.
What are you offering?
Michael: The wines we’ve chosen aren’t a tradable commodity, they’re not going to be up for auction but they’re made by people who love wine. They know their soil, they know what they’re doing and they love wine.
The stand out for me is the Domain Lucci Pinot. This is it. This is wine! It’s funky, it smells like the guy who made it; this is what wine should be about.
Chris: We’ve chosen four beers – three Australian and one from California. There’s a large focus on only using local products at the moment, but there are people doing amazing things all over the world and we wanted to explore that. For example, the Cheeky Monkey Red Ale, which is a mid strength, is an absolutely great beer.
We’ve got three cocktails; a Negroni, an Old Fashions and a Charlie Chaplain with a twist. We wanted to get a broad spectrum of tastes and drinks but keep it classic.
We’re inviting people to come with us, using the drinks we’ve chosen. After this first night, we’re going to do some really interesting and experimental things over the coming months.
What’s next for Volstead?
Michael: We’ll be going a little more obscure with our next events. The wines we’ve got for Saturday are a taster for what’s in store next. This is like a gateway for what we’ll be doing next.
Chris: We’ll also be incorporating food into our next events, looking to work with local chefs. We just hope people enjoy themselves as much as we’ve enjoyed planning it and come with us with what we have planned.
Volstead Union pops up at Bossman Coffee down Astor Lane
in Mount Lawley from 6pm Saturday May 2nd.
Find out more here