Grand Designs in Portarlington

The 1888-built Portarlington Grand Hotel has had a few renovations over the years, but none as big as this.

A $10 million refurbishment has turned the local watering hole of this once sleepy town on the Bellarine into an absolute coastal gem.

There’s a few different parts to get your head around. First, the Atrium; a light-filled, open-air space with nautical vibes that don’t overdo it.

Out the back of the Atrium there’s the Lawn, a breezy, green area with picnic tables and umbrellas. You can imagine an absolute vibe kicking up here in the summer months.

Heading indoors there’s the front bar; with wooden floorboards and booths – a bloody good spot to catch some mates. And further down through the classy walkway is the bistro, which is packed out most weekends for lunch and dinner.

The pub’s food offering makes heavy use of this coast’s excellent seafood. Portarlington mussels – the subject of a truly riotous mussel festival every January – are especially delicious here in the seafood-and-chorizo risotto. You’ll also find pub staples such as panko-crumbed schnitties, the classic chicken parma, whiting with chips and more. Locals supply the grog, with esteemed wineries Jack Rabbit and Terindah Estate, plus Flying Brick Cider Co, The Whiskery and more.

Portarlington is only an hour from Melbourne by ferry, which cuts across Port Phillip Bay and is actually shorter than driving, making it the perfect weekend getaway location. There’s 18 stunning rooms upstairs from the pub main, six featuring balconies looking out over the town and the water.

There’s been plenty of pub and restaurant openings over the last few years, and s well as being on the water and a destination in its own right, Portarlington is in close proximity to surf coast hotspots like Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads.

Get down there…before everyone else does.

Epic Recycled Brewery

Kamikatsu in southern Japan has set its sights on being a ‘zero-waste town’, and judging from their brewery, they’re well on their way.

The building that houses Rise and Win Brewery is made from mostly recycled materials, first and foremost the epic patchwork of windows at the front of the building, all nabbed from abandoned houses in the area and given a new lease of life.

The brewery itself isn’t too shabby either; the taproom featuring a delicious, rotating selection of kegs.

The beer itself follows the lead of the rest of the town, composting the by-products of the brewing and using wheat grown nearby for beer that is truly local.

There’s everything from a lighter summer ale through to a stout, and a tasty looking BBQ-inspired menu.

The rogue whisky maker in central Tasmania

Peter Bignell takes waste reduction to a new level.

About 13 years ago the sixth generation sheep farmer in Tasmania’s central highlands, came into possession of an excess of rye. To get rid of it, he decided to start making his own whisky. And so Belgrove Whisky was born.

Since then, his whisky has gone from strength to strength, from winning national awards to being served in high-end Tasmanian restaurants like Peacock and Jones (where he recommends his white rye whisky be paired with the wallaby tartare). He’s had Gordon Ramsey out to his property, and had him unceremoniously shovelling sheep shit for the ‘Wholly Shit Whisky’ blend.

Peter and his Iraqi offsider Maan (who gave up a PhD to brew the good stuff for a living) do not do things the traditional way. An old washing machine is used in the mixing process. Peter makes his own stills. He places a reliance on smell and taste where others would use tools and computers.

“We’re here to make flavours, not alcohol, and that’s very important,” he says.

“We do everything by hand, so no two of our blends are ever exactly the same.

“And yes, we could probably get a bunch of computers together that regulate everything and make some really good whisky out of it. But gee that would be boring, wouldn’t it?”

Tours and tastings of the Belgrove’s distillery is not the clean-cut, streamlined beauty of the bigger operations, and therein lies the beauty. The distillery is at Peter’s house. Tastings take place in his shed, rather than a glitzy tasting room. Instead of a spittoon or a sink, any leftover whisky from each sample should be tipped onto the floor.

The Belgrove White Rye whisky is the one featured on Peacock and Jones’ menu, and on the day get lost visit, the aptly named Bogan Burnout is a favourite. The whiskey is emblematic of a commitment from Peacock and Jones, and indeed the Tasmanian culinary scene in general, to sourcing local produce wherever possible.

Best of all, the man himself doesn’t seem to give a shit.

“Things don’t always work out. For instance, I tried to make a whisky that no one likes,” Peter says.

“I failed miserably. Everyone seems to like Bogan Burnout.”

Belgrove Whiskey features on a brand new menu at Peacock and Jones, based within Hobart’s Henry Jones Art Hotel. 

The best Irish pub not in Ireland?

I told an Irish flute player I met at the bar of the Drunken Poet that it had been named among the best Irish pubs outside of Ireland.

“No mate,” he corrected me. “This place is better than most of the pubs at home.”

If you’re in Melbourne on St. Patrick’s Day it’d be rude not to pop in here…or any day, to be fair, given the craic on offer at this absolute stalwart.

It has all the hallmarks of what makes a great Irish pub: a warm space of small nooks and crannies, tiny circles of chairs crammed with talented musicians named Caihome or Aoife, plus the best pint of Guinness in Australia.

The pub gets its name from the portraits of ‘drunken’ poets that line the walls. There’s live music from talented fiddlers and flutists, or live poetry and spoken word six nights a week. This is the key – there’s always something happening, which is what makes it so special. Sláinte.

Washington D.C. After Dark

get lost’s man on the ground Roberto Serrini is no stranger to being out and about in a foreign city after dark, so he’s a good judge when it comes to this sort of thing.

We recently sent him to Washington D.C., and amongst finding a brand new food halls with epic, upmarket American favourites and the super cool, slightly creepy International Spy Museum…

The Garden District, Washington D.C.

…he was also able to show us where to go on a night out in the ‘Murican capital.

Perch yourself up at a bar and let the experts do their thing.

Check it out:

Brewery in the bush

There are just two ingredients you need for an incredible brewery experience.

Good beer is mandatory, but an almost treasure-hunt-like experience to find a new brewery always reminds you that the journey is always more important than the destination.

Wyadra Brewing is a small craft beer producer operated by John and Kate Dall on their remote property at Tallong in southern New South Wales. And when we say property, we mean literal tin shed propped up against an old oak tree and sandwiched between a dirt track and busy freight rail line.

After traversing the aforementioned endless dirt track, Wyadra appears like a mirage on the horizon.

Three crowns from its icon logo emerging like a beacon of beer beckoning us for a good afternoon of boozing in the bush.

In the brewshed, you can gather around John’s makeshift timber bar and roaring log fireplace while old vintage cars hover on hoists above – one of which is an old red Lamborghini.

In between John’s home-made hors d’oeuvre of Primo cabanossi and tasty cheddar cheese, the real star of the show at Wyadra is the beer.

And if you’re looking for an afternoon to settle in and forget you’re actually miles away from Australia’s biggest city, acoustic guitar acts from the bush frequent the shady branches of Wyadra’s old oak on a Saturday afternoon.

Ask for a tour of John’s mechanic shed-cum-brewery and be sure to buy a sticker for your Esky so you can tell your kids about your experience, this one won’t remain a secret from Sydneysiders for long.

Milney’s Bar

In Melbourne on Valentines Day weekend? Needing somewhere to take that someone special? Say no more – Milney’s has you covered.

You could be forgiven for not noticing the discreet entrance to Milney’s as you walk down the northern end of busy Brunswick Street. It’s literally just a door without signage; nothing to suggest one of Melbourne’s most chic spots lies a gentle turn of the handle behind.

But that is exactly what awaits, a luscious plant and light-filled courtyard backing onto a dimly lit bar area perfect for whispering sweet-nothings into someone’s ear, provided of course that you know that person.

In fairness, Milney’s is much more than just a Valentines Day specialist – it’s a bar that perfects the difficult-to-perfect balance between uber-cool and unpretentious; for instance, you can pay $90 for caviar, which comes served with a side of Pringles – straight out of the box.

There’s a solid cocktail list, craft and old-school beers, wines and more.

Get there before everyone knows about it.

Get a little bit of Hanky Panky

Anyone down for a little Hanky Panky?

That’s the name of the brand new cocktail bar that’s just opened in Darwin city centre to plenty of hype, the brainchild of several lynchpins of the Australian bartending scene.

Dim lighting, New York-speakeasy style interiors and smartly dressed bartenders greet punters on arrival, all in, it must be said, slightly un-Darwin like fashion.

There’s an extensive list of cocktails – including the place’s namesake, the Hanky Panky, which is gin, sweet vermouth, Fernet-Branca and orange slice served on ice.

We reckon that if you find yourself in the heat of Australia’s tropical far north, you could probably do with a refreshment (or seven) like this.

If you can’t get to Darwin though, here’s how you can make it at home, thanks to Doctor Cocktail himself, Dirk Hany*:

*This guy has no association with the Hanky Panky Lounge – we just found him to be a pretty great cocktail Doctor.

This vending machine is actually a pub

Picture this: it’s a hot day in downtown Fukuoka, and you pass a vending machine selling the traditional Japanese vending machine things (Coke, Pepsi, bubble-tea, pizza and underpants).

Just any other street in downtown Fukuoka… …or is it!? (Takuya Miyano)

You pop some coins in and instead of getting a coca-cola back, the vending machine opens wide, revealing a set of stairs.

“This vending machine is a pub!” we imagine you saying to yourself as you descend the slightly steep steps into a dimly lit Izakaya.

You know that Izakaya means ‘Stay-drink-place” in English, so you grab a seat, ask for a sake and the special (cheese fondue yakitori, a kind of grilled chicken with veges and a cheese sauce dip) and stay-drink you do.

Be warned though: every other vending machine you visit from now will probably seem pretty dull.

The pub is hidden amongst other vending machines in Fukuoka’s Kasuga neighbourhood…see if you can find it. 

Safari, Scotch and Cigars in a Tent

At get lost we don’t spend a lot of time in tents. But if it meant trying a variety of expertly curated scotches and accompanying cigars, we probably would.

Meet Safari Tent: a two hour, private scotch and cigar tasting experience where you chill out in finely-decorated luxury tents, each with comfy old-man armchairs, rich wood floors, oriental rugs, wood plank ceilings and other rustic touches.

The tent is a pop-up in Rhode Island from Preserve, who do lots of cool shit like this, and the tastings themselves come from legendary brands Laphroaig and Cobina.

As well as this, there’s some charcuterie, chocolate and roasted nuts to go with. You’ll truly feel like royalty….in a tent.

Now this is camping we can get into.