Stars on tap

A great watering hole is a celeb’s haven. But which are their favourite haunts?

Celebrities, reportedly, boast digestive systems similar to those of ordinary humans. Solids and liquids are ingested orally — past gleaming rows of permawhite teeth — then digested through an impressive network of organs and intestines.

Waste products are thought to be excreted, though no one has ever seen a celebrity go to the toilet. Such fragile inner workings have long troubled experts, keen to extract meaning from society’s shiniest stars of television, radio and the arts. Celebrity drinking habits, in particular, have sparked puzzlement. What do they drink? And where in Melbourne do they go for a tipple? M mag goes hunting.

Celebrities are nannas

Celebrity works in the same way as dog years. Accept, as a rough rule of thumb, that every moment in the spotlight is worth at least seven in real time. Celebrities sparkle and fade in rapid fashion. Only someone famous could use the words "as you get older" self-referentially at the ripe old age of 26.

Celebrity drinking holes, too, show maturity beyond their meagre years. Young celebrities look for "somewhere quiet" with
"comfy seats" and "music that isn’t so loud I can’t hear myself think". Throw in clean toilets and a bain marie, and you practically guarantee the paparazzi will be en route.

Comedian Celia Pacquola’s favourite bar is Bimbo Deluxe, within walking-frame distance of her Carlton home. "I like  somewhere where I can hear people talk. I don’t understand why people go out with friends where you can't hear what anyone is saying," she says. "My other pet hates are having nowhere to sit or if the music is too loud. Oh, and I am usually home by one. I’m a complete nanna at age 26."

Model Kasia Zachwieja, girlfriend of Hawthorn forward Lance Franklin, prefers Windsor’s La La Land for a quiet glass of red by the fire. "As you get older, you tend to stay away from nightclubs and go to places you might like to have a casual drink and not be surrounded by too many people," she says. She’s also 26.

Rush’s Rodger Corser — at 36, practically a fossil — favours imported beers at The King of Tonga, near his Elwood home. "It's like a second lounge room," he says. "I'm probably getting on a bit, so I want to be able to talk to friends."

Similarly, Postcards' Blair McDonough, 28, doesn't stray far beyond the familiar comfort of his local, the Cricketer's Arms, in Port Melbourne. He has paddled in the celebrity pool since he was 21, and often been feted with free drinks by bar owners.

"I think management liked it because the pictures looked like the bar was harbouring people that other people might want to see," he says. "But crowds really get to me these days. You can get drinks anywhere but good people to have a chat with is the hardest thing to find. And I don't like it too loud because after a while the music drains away everything else ... I am starting to sound like a f---ing granddad."

Celebrities don’t queue

The beauty of celebrity is everyone wants to be your friend. What do you give a celebrity who has everything? A ride to the front of the queue, free drinks and a private room — somewhere they feel special.

Neighbours actor James Sorensen says he and his co-stars stick to clubs where they know the owners and the owners know them — "so we've always got somebody to look after us".

"It's always nice when you don't have to line up and pay $25/$30 for entry. They go, 'Hey, we've got this place down the
back, a little booth for you'. And halfway through the night they might come around and go, 'Guys, we're getting a round of
drinks, would you like one?' " Sorensen, 22, nominates Boutique nightclub, in Prahran, and Sorry Grandma, in the city, as venues that show suitable care for celebrities.

Being Melbourne, though, some celebrities show disdain for such trappings. Musician Daniel Merriweather, a whisky-on-the-rocks man, likes Fitzroy’s Cape Lounge, but insists he avoids celebrity hangouts. "They’re always so stuck up. The
last place I want to be is rubbing shoulders with celebrities — it's the antithesis of fun to me. I'm a musician, not a celebrity."

But who's he kidding? In celebrity land, you must be seen to be believed. Trawling through Boutique’s two-page photographic portfolio of notables, one discovers Fox FM's Adam Richard, 38. But he says he prefers Mink in St Kilda and Grumpy's Green in Fitzroy. "I like those places where they have a roped-off area for you or where people can go into a booth. It means someone can't take a photo of you with your eyes rolling in the back of your head," he says.

"When I first started in the public eye it was very weird to be treated, I guess you'd say, better than everyone else," says
Sorensen. "But it’s nice to just be plucked out and you don’t have to worry about those hour and 45 minutes outside the
club with all these drunk blokes who want photos."

I'm a celebrity, get me out of here

The bother of celebrity is everyone wants to be your friend. Radio and TV star Dave Hughes says fame walks a fine line. "You sort of want an in-between place where people don't hassle you too much but you're not completely ignored," he says.

"If you go to a bar where everyone is too cool for school, people leave you alone basically. In a way that can be good, but
going against you is that you still like to feel popular."

Hughes, 38, nominates St Kilda's The Vineyard as filling that elusive in-between zone. As a general rule, though, the longtime teetotaller goes home early. "The later it gets at night, the drunker people get; and the more chance you are of getting put in a friendly headlock by about four or five blokes."

Misadventure and mobile phone cameras, too, await any celebrity who missteps. "This is the age of the trainwreck," writes British journalist Marina Hyde in her book Celebrity. We once held up celebrities as winners, now we love to watch them fall, she argues.

"Were an in-his-prime Jimi Hendrix to perform today, he would simply find his sweat patches ringed in some magazine or other's weekly 'Circle of Shame' feature, probably accompanied by a teeth-grinding caption: 'Ewww! He may be experienced but Jimi's not deodorised.' "

The price of constant exposure is, well, exposure. Football players can't drive drunk (nor lie about it), pee on a police station or poo in a hotel corridor now without someone peeping. Deal or No Deal host Andrew O’Keefe has similarly discovered that Sprawled Across Chapel Street is not a late-night venue any canny celebrity would recommend.

The weight of public censure for such misadventure depends on how bright your star is shining. "Andrew was OK because
he is at the top of his game, but the lesser lights get made a mockery of and it's all over," McDonough says.

Sunrise weather presenter Fifi Box, who likes the Collection Bar in Richmond, says celebrities are a real-life (read: more real) version of Big Brother. "I’m not actually a big drinker and fortunately I'm not somebody who starts taking my clothes off and starts streaking," she says.

"You can't take the money and love all the fancy things that come with fame, but say, 'No, don't photograph me or take
my autograph — how dare you'. You want private time but you do become public property and I’m open to that."

Celebrities are just like us — no, really Celebrities, remember, eat food just the same as you or I — even if in decidedly
smaller portions. When choosing a drinking venue, it also matters to them what's on the menu. Former Olympic  gold-medallist swimmer Michael Klim plumps for Fog, in Prahran, for its "New York-style" restaurant out front and flavoured vodkas in the bar out back.

Vega radio's Dave O'Neil can't go past the chicken parma with pineapple at the Town Hall Hotel in North Melbourne. "I like to go somewhere where they've got good meals and it's open early," he says. "I just drink Carlton beer from the
tap and if it's a special night a couple of Crownies. I like a place where there are guys in overalls drinking at the main bar
and a darts club meeting, maybe."

Channel Seven's Daniel MacPherson likes the food and beer at Barney Allen's — celebrity chef Iain Hewitson's St Kilda establishment — because "it's somewhere I feel as comfortable as if at home". The Fitzroy Street bar is also a favourite of
comedian Rebel Wilson. "I usually go with friends and I'll shout them a burger for helping me practise an audition," she says.

Recent in-bar auditions included a heated interrogation scene for City Homicide, which drew concerned looks from fellow patrons. Wilson was cast in the role of a killer — though, graciously, she's not into method acting. Ah, being watched — it's key to being celebrity. Keep your eyes and mouth open and you will spy a celebrity somewhere down one of Melbourne's drinking holes.

Perhaps sitting on a comfy couch in their slippers, supping on pre-chewed food. Or gliding past while you queue. Or  defecating outside your hotel door.

Strangely, Archibald Prize artist Vincent Fantauzzo subverts the spotlight, preferring bars where he can watch us instead — the muddled, unphotogenic hordes. "I just like to go and have a look. On Friday nights after work at Cookie [in the city] you see all the suits come in a bit like a Brack painting. I like to sit and watch people get drunk after work and wonder what the social dynamics are," he says.


Fifi Box, Sunrise
Favourite bar/pub: The Collection, Richmond. "Intimate feel with amazing lychee cocktails and great tapas."
Drink:  Raspberry vodka, lemon and lime

George Calombaris, The Press Club and Hellenic Republic
Favourite bar/pub: Cookie, CBD. "It's not confined, you can move around lots of levels."
Drink: Frangelico with lime

Rodger Corser, Rush
Favourite bar/pub: The King of Tonga, Elwood. "Great memorabilia. Everyone talks a lot of football and loves their sport."
Drink: Coopers Pale Ale

James Sorensen, Neighbours
Favourite bar/pub: Manchuria, CBD. "Amazing decor, you feel like you stepped back into Beijing or China."
Drink: Vodka, lime and soda

Paris Wells, musician
Favourite bar/pub: Toff in Town, CBD. "I am obsessed with dirty martinis."
Drink: Champagne and soda water

Vincent Fantauzzo, artist
Favourite bar/pub: Cookie, CBD. "I like to sit there and watch people get drunk after work and wonder what the social dynamics are."
Drink: Cabernet sauvignon/shiraz

Daniel Merriweather, musician
Favourite bar/pub: Cape Lounge, Fitzroy. "It's an amazing gig venue and a cheap bar."
Drink: Jameson on the rocks

Kasia Zachwieja, model
Favourite bar/pub: La La Land, Windsor. "It's like a big lounge room, where you can sit down with friends and still feel
you're outside socialising."
Drink: French martini

Dave Hughes, Nova radio, The 7pm Project
Favourite bar/pub: The Vineyard, St Kilda. "It has a rustic charm and is somewhere people aren't going to hassle you
too much."
Drink: Diet Coke

Michael Klim, former Olympic swimmer
Favourite bar/pub: Fog, Prahran. "A good place for a quiet dinner but with a bar at the back with lots to offer."
Drink: Flavoured vodka on the rocks

Daniel MacPherson, City Homicide and Dancing With the Stars
Favourite bar/pub: Barney Allen’s, St Kilda. "Really warm, friendly place where the barman knows what you drink before you even sit down."
Drink: Carlton Draught

Blair McDonough, Sea Patrol, Postcards
Favourite bar: Cricketer's Arms, Port Melbourne. "It's my local. And it has a great beer garden out back that cops the winter sun."
Drink: Peroni Leggera

Celia Pacquola, comedian
Favourite bar/pub: Bimbo Deluxe, Fitzroy. "They serve pizza until late and the beer garden looks like a Tim Burton movie."
Drink: Little Creatures Bright Ale

Adam Richard, Fox radio
Favourite bar/pub: Grumpy's Green, Fitzroy. "The sort of place you can go with friends and not bump into other people."
Drink: Carlton Draught