Must Winebar: Cool for Cats Summer Series

glass

There’s something quintessential about cocktails and summer. Not that cocktail drinking can’t be a winter activity, but… well, as soon as the barometer starts rising, I’m craving the closest booze over ice.

Not just any booze… something deliciously refreshing, distinct but light, naturally infused with citrus, mint, herbs or berries. Something like the Ginuary from Must Winebar‘s Cool for Cats summer menu.

Cool for Cats is a promotion being run by chef and owner Russell Blaikie and his talented team at Must Winebar for the entire month of January. To help patrons ‘cool down’ from the scorching summer temperatures, the bar is offering a new short menu of bar snacks, gin-based cocktails and sangria from 4-7pm each day, with wines and Champagne being sold at bottle-shop prices.

sign menu

I first sampled the delights of Cool for Cats on Monday 6th December 2014 as a guest of Russell Blaikie and his creative team. It was a scorching day; 40 degrees C to be exact. After cooling down with some water, we sampled the entire range of Cool for Cats promotional cocktails, delicious bar snacks and sangria whilst chatting to Russell and his head barman, Marz.

About ten minutes into the evening, I berated myself for forgetting my camera. A semi-exclusive invitation, an event launch, Perth food personalities… the camera wielding should have come automatically. But, well… no. Between my day job, recipe development and everything else, I guess I’m still adjusting to the ‘public foodie’ thing. Very slowly.

restaurant

Cue Thursday evening, 9th December 2014. I sent my husband a message on my way home from work, proposing the idea of a visit to Must for both blogging and comparison purposes. Blogging in the respect that I needed some decent photographs for Monday’s event post. Comparison in regards to, well… comparison.

In short, I wanted to see whether the ‘average patron’ would get the same impeccable food, cocktails and service as we received during the launch party. Aaron was agreeable, mostly due to my raving reviews of Marz’s delicious ‘smoked negroni’ cocktail from Monday night.

bar

We arrived just before six pm. The bar was reasonably quiet; a few patrons sat sipping slowly from a pitcher of iced sangria. We scanned the room, settling on seats at the centre bar.

After a quick glance at the menu, I realized that there was no smoked negroni. And no Marz (see * below). However, after a chat with the barman (he explained that he could make me a regular negroni but not a smoked one) I ordered a Prince Harry (whisky, lime, bitters and vanilla sugar, from the regular cocktail menu) and a seasonal Ginuary (Sipsmith London gin, elderflower liqueur, apple, bitters and ginger beer, from the Cool for Cats summer menu).

Our food choices were a spicy prawn gazpacho shot ($5) and the ‘Must’ fish and frites ($19).

bar2

stools2The fish arrived promptly; four crisp pieces of whiting accompanied by thick homemade tartare and an enamel cup of golden frites. We grazed happily whilst awaiting our drinks and I’m pleased to say that the dish was exactly as I remembered it from Monday. The moist, delicate fish was lightly coated in a crispy batter, perfectly portioned for dunking into the thick, piquant tartare.

The frites were thin, crisp and lightly salted. Aaron and I fought each other for the last three.

fish chip

Our drinks arrived half-way through the cup of frites.I had sampled the Ginuary on Monday so I knew exactly what to expect: an easy-drinking, delicately floral cocktail with notes of elderflower, ginger and juniper. It arrived tall, with plenty of ice and a fresh mint garnish.

Aaron’s Prince Harry was presented in a vanilla-sugar-rimmed Martini glass. It was delicious, with dominant whisky notes (from the Monkey Shoulder whisky and Lochan Ora whisky liqueur) and a bitter finish that was beautifully softened by the sugar rim. I’m not entirely sure why it was called a Prince Harry, but… well, it was orange. And perfectly delicious.

glassrimmenu2For some reason, our gazpacho shot was momentarily forgotten; an attentive waiter chased it up after taking our second round of cocktail orders. It arrived soon afterwards, a proud prawn protruding from a chive-garnished shot glass of vivid red.

It was delicious; fresh, plump and beautifully spiced. However, the presentation definitely fell below that of Monday’s launch party with Russell Blaikie. It took me three photographs to get something that didn’t resemble a dismembered finger in a bloodied glass. Here’s the result:

prawngaz

Compare this shot to Bryton Taylor’s snap of Monday night’s offering. Just a small difference in presentation, but… well, we do ‘eat with our eyes’. Rest assured, both versions were equally gorgeous in the eating.

Bryton also has some delicious snaps of Rusty’s Ribs ($19), Russell Blaikie’s own recipe based on the (in)famous ribs from Naughty Nuri’s in Ubud, Bali. On Monday, the pork ribs were succulent, sticky and fall-off-the-bone wonderful, accompanied by a refreshing pickled vegetable salad.

We didn’t order this dish on Thursday, however I’d definitely recommend it if you’re visiting Must during the Cool for Cats summer season. It’s meat perfection, Bali style. So, so good.

finAaron’s second cocktail was Purple Print, bourbon with Creme de Mure (blackcurrant liqueur), cranberry, blueberry jam and mint.

This cocktail arrived with a dollop of blueberry jam on shaved ice, which immediately screamed ‘overly sweet’ to me; however, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was perfectly balanced with bourbon heat and acidic cranberry.

purple restaurant2

I ended with a glass of smooth Spanish Tempranillo, the name of which evades me, whilst occasionally stealing blueberries from Aaron’s Purple Print. We chatted happily, watching a trickle of dinner patrons slowly fill the seated dining area. By 7.30pm, we drained our glasses and settled the bill.

After two visits to Must’s Cool for Cats summer cocktail series, I’d definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a classy summer sundowner along the hallowed Beaufort Street strip. Chef/owner Russell Blaikie, head chef Andre Mahe and head barman Marz have created a beautiful collection of memorable drinks and snacks that have a deliciously light, casual feel. They’re perfect for scoffing after a hard day at work or for sharing with friends.

bottles

Thanks to Russell Blaikie, Sipsmith Independent Spirits and the Must team for a memorable introduction to the Cool for Cats summer cocktail series.

*Update from 13/01/2014: I’ve received information from Must that the smoked negroni is now on the Cool for Cats menu! It’s got delicious Sipsmith gin, Campari, Pedro Ximenez Lustau sherry and aromatic bitters, all smoked over aromatic orange woodchips before being served over an ice sphere. Perthians, get there. Now!

Must Winebar

Open 7 Days, 12 noon – 12 midnight (*Cool for Cats 4-7pm daily in the bar)

519 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA

(08) 9328 8255

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67 responses

  1. First, I feel like I’m in the future because it’s posted on January 10 your time but it’s January 9 my time. It’s like I’m living in the future and that makes me feel like a cool cat. Next, I love the name of this place (of course).

    • Haha, I know exactly how you feel Pamela! Whenever I comment on your posts (or other Northern hemi bloggers) it ends up being marked by some sort of time that’s hours in the past! Haha… but yep, you will always be a cool cat. And your cats are some of the luckiest around! xx

    • Hahahaa… yep, it’s not often in my life that I get called a ‘Cool Cat’ so I lapped it up! Was a lovely, relaxed evening with fellow foodies. Definitely enjoyed every minute xx

    • Aw, we do have some lovely small bars and restaurants over here but I reckon you’re spoilt for choice on the east side! It’s going to be 43 degrees C tomorrow too. I’m going to hibernate all day! Thanks for the kind words Hel xx

  2. I think we have another song to hum all night. Squeeze – Cool for Cats:

    The Indians send signals
    From the rocks above the pass
    The cowboys take positions
    In the bushes and the grass
    The squaw is with the Corporal
    She is tied against the tree
    She doesn’t mind the language
    It’s the beating she don’t need
    She lets loose all the horses
    When the Corporal is asleep
    And he wakes to find the fire’s dead
    And arrows in his hats
    And Davy Crockett rides around
    And says it’s cool for cats

    All sung in the keenest cockney accent too.

    And anyone who calls a winebar MUST is a freakin genius.

    • Oh, I love this. LOVE this! I wish I had read the song prior to Monday night when I was attending the cocktail sesh… we were supposed to be naming some of the cocktails but I had absolutely no inspiration.

      Now I’m thinking: “Smoke Signal” for the smoked negroni, possibly “The Corporal’s Squaw” for something else… you’re a genius, woman! But yep – Russell Blaikie is a genius too. I love double ententres! xx

  3. Perth seems to have been lacking in decent cocktails in the past: tasty enough but a bit heavy handed. These are the first I’ve tried here that have been perfectly balanced and show a lot more finesse in the making. The Prince Harry is a definite favourite, and looking forward to trying the smoked negroni if they ever get it onto the menu

    • I definitely agree, the smoked negroni was amazing… the first smoky cocktail that has followed through with taste and not just ‘visual effect’. Let’s hope it’ll make it onto the menu eventually (Marz, hint hint!). I’m excited to try the rest of the cocktails too… January’s promotion is a fantastic time to do it! xx

  4. The wine bar looks like vibe seamlessly with the minneapolis dining scene — similar cities, perhaps? gorgeous photos you took- i’d hope right over if i was nearby :) enjoy your summer cocktails while they last — i’m on a serious rotation of anything hot (think chai, coffee, tea, repeat)

    • I’ve never been to Minneapolis so I have no idea if we’re similar in terms of cities. Hm… I think we both need to do a city swap and give a proper verdict! Wish you could be over here for a girl’s cocktail date. It’s gorgeously sunny and beautiful at the moment. Stay warm, keep up that yummy hydration! xx

    • Haha, nope. I made sure I ate enough of those frites to soak it up… so delicious. Oh, and then I met up with the boys for a huge portion of Aaron’s cake at Ace pizza… well and truly erased the alcohol, right doctor? ;) xx

    • I was wondering whether to phrase it differently but it was entirely honest (and funny, according to me) so I left it in! Glad that you got it! Your post was gorgeous Bryt. Hopefully see you at another event soon xx

    • Thanks so much Sonali. It’s a gorgeous place, would be lovely if you lived close enough to visit! Any place that serves perfect chips is definitely a goer for me! xx

    • Thanks Azita, glad that you got the buzz of the place through the photos! Would be even better if you could come visit, I’d buy you a smoked negroni (they put it back on the menu, yay!) xx

      • Only were that a feasible option! I’d be there so fast! i do hope to get a chance to meet in person ONE DAY. Who knows, right? xoxo

    • Thanks so much lovely. Glad to have discovered your blog too… just gorgeous photos, so jealous of your Paris trip! Aaron and I are going to visit in July, just six months to wait (sigh!). I’ll have to take some notes from your posts xx

    • Hahahaa… he doesn’t last very long though (oh dear… I mean, the drink is served SHORT, you get me right?!). I equally adore your blog lovely; the yorkie adventures, photos and recipes always have me revisiting! I do think we are kindreds despite never meeting xx

  5. Is it weird/bad that this post just makes me want to visit Australia even more? Because it does… and I want to check this place out because it sounds delicious. I’d simply go for the cocktails alone!

    What a fun experience for y’all!

    • Hahaha… YES, come to Australia! Come visit me, I promise there’s a lot of deliciousness. Plus the beach, awesome Aussie beer, picnics during the long summer nights… and it’s sunny here at the moment (are you on the plane yet?!). This place is indeed great though. I’m definitely going back soon! xx

      • You definitely know how to sell it, girl, and if I had an airplane at my disposal, I’d already be on my way to escape the chilliness we’ve been experiencing! Happy that you’ll be checking out the place again… hopefully, it’s just as good every time you visit!

  6. Bring on the cocktails! I never met a drink I didn’t like and those look particularly amazing.. Its’ grey, dark and foggy here today, I can just picture myself there, eating those fish n chips and drinking such a lovely thing.. Have another one for me ok? :)

    • Aw, I wish you lived close enough to try the place yourself Maria! Hope that the weather is clearing up enough for you to have a glimmer of sunshine and warmth. Take care xx

  7. Wow, that first photo looks like a painting Laura!
    Sounds like the perfect place to escape the heat.
    Mmmmmm. Frites n chips. You’ve reminded me of the beauty of a fisherman’s basket. Must go off hunting for one this weekend; and strangely I have an inexplicable craving for an icy cocktail too ;)
    PS. I reckon ‘dismembered finger in a bloodied glass’ could be the perfect Halloween canap√©. xx

    • Ha, you are so right! I’m definitely going to steal the idea for Halloween… it was delicious, too :) I love fishermen’s baskets, particularly when eating one by the seaside. So deliciously crisp, moreish and fresh. Hope that you manage to have one this weekend xx

  8. This looks like it was a wonderful time! I have done the whole forget my camera at home as well and it is so frustrating! Glad it all worked out upon your second return. That shot looks so interesting! It is definitely something I would order :)

    • Thanks Lilly Sue, haha… glad that you understand the frustration (well, sort of. Not that I wish you that kind of frustration!). It was great to visit the second time, equally tasty and fun. Loved the gazpacho shot. Never thought I liked gazpacho til now! xx

    • Hahaha, aw no! I definitely understand what you mean though, I feel like that whenever I’m browsing food blogs too… ribs at midnight, cake at 7am! Hope that you manage to eat some deliciousness this weekend though. Cocktails are definitely on the cards! xx

    • It was actually really nice Lisa! I wasn’t sure at first, as I don’t like super-sweet cocktails, but it worked brilliantly against the slight bitterness of the drink itself. Those Must bar staff are clever things! Thanks so much for the note, hope you’re going well! xx

  9. Dear Laura, first up, I have to sincerely apologize for taking so long to visit your blog after you left such a wonderful and kind comment on my blog back on January 3. But, unfortunately, I was hospitalized for about four weeks. I arrived back home this week and just started commenting again and working on my blog. Your blog is absolutely wonderful, I really enjoyed my tour and will make sure to “visit” you again very soon. Love the reportage about the “Must” winebar and all the photos – what a marvelous place and what wonderful food. I always love reading about interesting places and going on a little virtual tour, perfect on a cold Saturday morning!
    Looking forward to my next visit and thank you again for your patience with respect to my “slow” response!
    Have a great weekend!

    • Oh I am so sorry to hear that you have been so unwell!! I hope that you’re feeling strong and recovered now? I definitely didn’t feel negatively about you not visiting straight away (or at all!) as we bloggers are busy folks. I just assumed that you had a lot on your plate. I appreciate your note though and I am glad to have met you as a blogging friend! Take care of yourself, praying for health for you and your family! Hugs xxxx

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