Bars and Nightclubs
Melbourne South, Melbourne

Borsch Vodka And Tears

173 Chapel St, Windsor VIC
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Borsch, Vodka and Tears is a Melbourne institution located at the colourful end of Chapel Street. Styled after a Kraków cellar bar, Borsch is a romantic bohemian enclave, the home of the Green Faery, an ode to a hazy and debauched bygone world. We specialise in Polish vodka, authentic wormwood absinthe, Eastern European beers and contemporary Polish dishes, and we are open early until late seven days a week.

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Borsch Vodka And Tears Review

Review by Emma Rothfield

For a number of my teenage years, it wasn’t uncommon for tears to follow vodka. At self-proclaimed Melbourne institution Borsch, Vodka and Tears, it was for all the right reasons. As someone who hasn’t quite developed a love for wine, I couldn’t resist checking out the extensive list of vodkas on offer, over 50 if I remember correctly (I may have dabbled in more than one kind). Somehow, I found myself there before a friend’s birthday drinks on a chilly Saturday afternoon. Drinks before drinks? It was a good idea at the time.

On numerous occasions I’d found myself doing chap laps with my friends, gawking out the window and wondering how this dimly-lit, bohemian-style venue always seemed to be busy. It wasn’t ‘queue out the door’ busy that can be off putting to many, but it was certainly bustling enough to suggest that there was more to Borsch than meets the eye. So I did what any curious girl would do in this situation. I called my token drinking buddy and off to Borsch we went. We’d booked in advance so we were given a table inside. However, when the warmer weather finally arrives the long outdoor table will definitely be our preference. The interior is meant to resemble a krakow-cellar bar, and the candles top off the low-key ambience of the place. What isn’t low key is the extensive drinks menu and the creative names given to each signature cocktail. A Keith Richards, anyone? If you’re a little overwhelmed by the array of drinks on offer, tell your waiter what you do or don’t like and let them recommend cocktails fit for your tastes. I kept it simple with my first drink, opting for my favourite- the Moscow Mule. This was listed on the menu as a ‘Borsched Up Classic’, and was made with chilli infused vodka and topped with a chilli garnish. The balance between the bitterness of the fresh lime and the spice of the chilli gave this drink the perfect amount of kick and was a great way to get the night started.

Our second choices were a little more adventurous and were recommendations by the friendly floor staff. My companion was after something sweet and fruity and the arrival of a bright red cocktail complete with a sugar dusted rim was everything she had hoped for, and more. One of their signature cocktails, the ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ is made up of fresh strawberries and mint, raspberry coulis, lemon vodka, zubrowka (polish bison-grass vodka) and crushed ice. It tasted as good as it looks and I know this because I had a generous swig of it when she went to the bathroom. Sorry, Alex. Despite the damage we were presently doing to our livers, I ironically ordered the ‘For Your Health’, listed as their Polish naturopath’s ‘health tonic’. This drink isn’t shaken and stirred with ingredients you’d find at just any old bar. A concoction consisting of Elderflower, Violet, Angelica and Orange Blossom – it was definitely not something I’m used to. What I loved about this cocktail was that it wasn’t overly sweet and was perfectly refreshing after the hit of chilli I’d had with the mule.

Unfortunately my companion and I had things to do and people to see so we opted for a bold send off. Again, we relied on the advice of the staff and couldn’t say no to a shot delightfully titled the ‘Polish Bitch’. I’m not sure if they were trying to get us out of there before things quickly went south, or if they were genuinely recommending it – but we ordered it anyway. The Polish Bitch is made up of vodka, sour cherry syrup and… wait for it… tabasco. At first I thought ‘yuck’ and then I thought ‘yolo’. (I hate myself for writing that, but it’s just too fitting.) The spice of the tabasco was quickly forgotten when the sweetness of the cherry hit and, somehow, it just worked. If we hadn’t had somewhere else to be there is a strong chance we’d still be there now, slowly making our way through the drinks menu.

TIP: Also a great place for a fun drink with potential suitor. You’re welcome.

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