Thursday, November 22, 2012


Some months ago I met one of The Mechanic Institute's barmen when he was doing a moonlighting shift at Ezra Pound, and he told me about the plans for The Mechanics Institute, which was just about to open.

I liked what I heard. A bar intended for the older (ie 30+) crowd. Cheap, simple cocktails. A place for men and women to have a sophisticated drink rather than a place for teenagers to get shitfaced. I made a mental note to go as soon as I could.

Fast forward to a few nights ago, when I finally got to The Mechanics Institute... and discovered that the intentions didn't quite match the outcome.

Even at 7.30pm on a Tuesday, the place was packed. There were a few older suits, but mostly they were 20 year old sub-hipsters, and they were all violently drunk. The girls squealed like fingernails down a blackboard as they staggered drunkenly against the furniture. The guys bellowed testosterone at each other before slobbering over their girlfriends faces.

"Ah", I thought. "This must be the price one pays for cheap cocktails." Then I ordered a Hendrick's gin martini.



That is, in case you're wondering, about 40% of the RETAIL cost of an ENTIRE bottle of Hendrick's gin.It is, in addition, about 20% MORE than you'd pay for the same cocktail at Ezra Pound, Must, The Aviary or any of the other high-end small bars in this part of the city.

Perhaps the crowd was a one-off event. Perhaps the cheap cocktails only come during Happy Hour, then the staff make up the numbers by gouging everyone else. Perhaps the terrible music - a mishmash of pop songs from the 70s to the 90s that was irritating rather than ironically nostalgic - was the product of somebody accidentally plugging their mother's iPod into the sound system.

All I know is it made a very bad impression, and I will resist the urge to return.

Mechanics' Institute Bar on Urbanspoon


Blogger Patsy said...

Hey, thanks for the tip bandwagon, won't be going there then. If you could find me somewhere to go for a drink between Perth and Freo via Stirling Highway that does get some ticks, be sure to post, cheers. (Fails go to Elba, Madrid, Beluga, the Duchess all ghastly and pretentious).

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Troy G said...

This is why I drink G&Ts at your place, where I don't have to pay.

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Blandwagon said...

Nothing much between Perth and Freo, Patsy. But the CBD is packed with them. Personally I like going to Helvetica and Andaluz. There is a welter of new places in the plaza under the new BHP tower, but I haven't tried any of them yet.

I had a very nice Negroni at Venn on Queens Street last night.

2:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is always Mrs Brown when your heading in and out of Fremantle...

11:31 PM  
Anonymous Blandwagon said...

That's true, Anonymous. The only issue is that Mrs Brown is owned by the same people who own The Mechanics Institute (although I suspect you knew that), and therefore aren't to be trusted.

That said, the last time I was there I had a couple of very nice cocktails at reasonable prices. Perhaps the laidback vibe of Fremantle is blunting Hamish and Siobhan's money-grubbing ways?

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You shouldn't be judging an entire family because of their obnoxious youngest addition.

Perhaps you should get out more and realise what Perth prices are. As in any industry, there are obviously margins that are necessary to stay in business. It is a fine line of the right offerings for the right clientele.

I would love Perth to be cheaper, maybe I could afford to visit some more venue's more often. Greed is rife in this city, most of it starts with the landlords which merely the beginning of the avalanche.

If you want your cheap drinks then learn to deal with the atmosphere that you seem to detest of teenagers squealing and sucking face.

I do agree with you for the cost of a Hendricks Martini, especially since licensed premises in Northbridge are restricted to 50ml of alcohol in any drink. However, if you have expensive tastes then you will pay.

Your level of ignorance is quite astounding. Perhaps you should look at the big picture instead of putting yourself on a pedestal and looking down at the world. In one paragraph you bury Mrs Brown, then in the next you lift it back up, only to bury it again.

Are you just unhappy with your own existence??

Why don't you think about what you want to say and say it. Stop sitting on the fence, you'll just end up with it up your arse, provided it can find room up there as your head seems to be firmly buried in it...

10:14 AM  
Blogger Blandwagon said...

Thanks for stopping by, Anonymous. It's always nice to have people drop in and beclown themselves.

My central complaint about The Mechanics Institute is that it is making a fuss about its cheap cocktails, and yet charged me $26 for a martini.

The exact same martini, using the same gin, can be purchased over the road at Ezra Pound for around $20. At Must, up the road, it's $20. At Bar Lafayette, where they have to pay the insane rents of the CBD, it's $22.

Why is a martini 30% more expensive on one side of William Street than the other? I can only assume it's the greed of the proprietors. Since you appear to be in the know, perhaps you can suggest another reason?

2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just stumbled upon this from the Mechanics Urbanspoon page.

I've been to Mechanics Institute a couple of times now, and I've never paid over $18 for a seriously good cocktail.

I have no idea what happened with your $26 martini, but in my experience they've been pretty fair priced, and most of Urbanspoon agrees.

1:13 PM  

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