Misfits director Jacob Bell weighs in on what's drinking well in Footscray and beyond.

Jacob Bell – JB, as he’s known in the biz – has spent over two decades in hospitality, running venues in New Zealand, Los Angeles and Copenhagen before setting up shop in Melbourne and taking the reins at Ferdydurke and Whitehart. A deep love of wine and an itch to create something meaningful for his local neighbourhood led him to team up with mates Amber Hahipene and Jerry Poon to build Misfits in Footscray – a casual bar, music and community space that succeeded Baby Snakes earlier in 2024. From triple-juniper gins to gypsy-brewed farmhouse ales, here’s what’s pouring well in the world of Victorian drinks, according to Jacob Bell. 

Looking at the Victorian drinks world from the outside in, I think its key strengths are the vibrant and globally competitive nature of the hospitality industry, coupled with its open-mindedness. The way we explore and innovate sets us apart; we embrace diversity and aren’t bound by strict traditions. That makes for good drinking.

The last three delicious Victorian things I drank were… 

  • Cherry Ripe Boulevardier. A selfish little Misfits plug but this drink is delicious. Coconut fat-washed Starward Whisky, a house-made cherry bitter syrup, sweet vermouth and Campari. A Cherry Ripe in a glass.
  • Defialy Amber Skye 2022. I believe this is out of stock currently but the new vintage coming out soon. It’s one hundred per cent Muscat of Alexandria grape. It’s so powerfully fragrant it almost bursts out of the glass; can’t wait to try the next vintage.
  • Sobremesa Soulflower saison. Sobremesa Fermentary & Blendery is a small gypsy brewing duo making beer out of Hop Nation in Footscray. They focus on naturally fermented farmhouse beers made in the way they would have been years ago before the advent of modern technology. Producing beer this way requires a lot of love, passion and patience. Their story is really cool,  their product is delicious and their brewer Casey Grieve is passionate and awesome. Try their beers; so, so good.

When someone hands me a drinks list, I go straight to the wines and generally find myself in the aromatic white wine or natural section. Old World or New World, as long as I have acidity, structure and some minerality, you can count me happy.

As far as I’m concerned, the defining place to get a drink in Victoria is directly at the vineyard. You get get to enjoy the wine where it was farmed and bottled while hearing the story of how it came to be straight from the horse’s mouth. There are so many beautiful wine regions and vineyards on our doorstep you just have to jump in a car (with a designated sober driver) and go and enjoy.

There’s no better value on drinks list or in a bottle-shop in this state than Caretaker’s Cottage. It’s not that cheap, but they just do what they do so well – it’s money well spent. Hats off to the team and make sure you go and check it out if you haven’t already.

My favourite place to buy booze is Mr West, a local bar and bottle store that showcases a great selection of natural wines and independent beers both local and international. They’re doing good things and we consider ourselves in good company and lucky to call these guys pals and neighbours. 

I’d love to see Victoria distilling more whisky. From Starward to Gospel, there are some tasty things being produced here, I just want to see more.

My guilty pleasure at the bar is ordering a round of Jameson shots and then immediately ghosting everyone to go home to my baby girl. Good excuse.

The Victorian spirit I’m loving most right now is Anther’s Charismatica Gin: a gin collaboration with with drinks pros Trish Brew and Zee Gallo. It’s a triple juniper bomb but with loads of botanical and floral notes; a mix of the old with the new. 

The best or most important change to the way people drink in Victoria in recent years has been drinkers drinking more consciously, and really considering and enjoying what they’re drinking, be it choosing local or giving more thought to a drink’s sustainability. Many producers and makers nowadays are championing sustainability, from producing their products with zero waste to working with the land on which they grow. I think the rise of these producers goes hand in hand with the uptick in educated consumers and I’m all for it.

For me, the most inspiring people in the Victorian drinks world are the small, independent wine growers. From farming the land and making the wine to marketing, selling and doing it all with passion and love, I have so much respect for the producers doing it all solo or with a few helping hands. 

Misfits, 30 Chamber St, Footscray, open 5pm-late Wed-Sun, @misfits.space, misfits.space