Disclosure: I was kindly invited to play faux-mixologist with East 9th Brewery by Zilla and Brook and to check out Sauced with the pretty party people by Paper Mill Media
East 9th Brewing Co.
You know, as much as I like to share things with you guys, I will quietly admit I've been putting off posting this…as it means I'd have to let you know of a new little rooftop bar in Melbourne that's only been open for the past 3 months or so.
But I love you all so much…so I guess it's okay.
About a month or so ago, I was invited along with a handful of other bloggers to Goldilocks, a gorgeous bar on the 4th floor of 264 Swanston Street (yes you do need to enter the random Chinese noodle shop to get the elevator), which leads to a cosy little rooftop overlooking the junction of Lonsdale and Swanston Street, to explore East 9th Brewing Company's drink range, and see how their drinks could be used to make cocktails.
But we're not talking typical mixers here, we're talking East 9th Brewing Co's Doss Blockos pale lager, Lick Pier ginger beer and Fog City cider and sangria. Mixing alcohol with more alcohol? Sign me up!
I had seen all their beverages around before, but never taken the initiative to try them, but now that I have, I definitely have to say they're just perfect for the summer weather that's very slowly licking it's way in. Each with it's own flavour (obviously, being different drinks), but they were all quite light, refreshing and rather crisp. The Fog City sangria in particular impressed me, as I expected it to be overwhelmingly sweet, but it was surprisingly relatively dry, with the fruit just adding a nice bit of roundness to it. Would be quite happy to knock back a six pack of these!
Guided by bartender Lou and Jeremy of West Winds Gin, we were stocked up on gin (naturally), Tromba tequila and 666 vodka, to have a play and mix. Lou took the lead and showed us how beer could actually be mixed into a cocktail, with a spot of gin, stout syrup and bitters. It was oddly refreshing and a nice change from the sweet route that cocktails can often go on.
It was interesting talking to Ben about the young brewing company, who are branching out into a slightly more niche arena and are open to being a little experimental, and trying things out which may not be typical for their market (case in point, beer in cocktails). There is an elemental of wayfaring and exploration as well, reflected subtly in the names. Fog City referring to San Francisco, Lick Pier actually a pier on Venice Beach in LA where the Cheetah club can be found (it'll make sense when you see the label) and Dos Blockos named after a squat in Manhattan in the 90's, which nurtured a lot of artists and creativity. Always love learning the inspiration and stories behind the ideas.
Jo and I worked Jeremy hard, as we concocted up cocktail after cocktail. Jo's idea of butter vodka with Fog City cider, spice syrup and lime was essentially an apple pie in dessert form (all the yums) and between the two of us, we came up with the incredibly delicious combination of blood orange, Lick Pier ginger beer, Tromba tequila, agave and lime. Although we were originally going to call it a 'Bloody Tequila Lick', Jeremy offhandedly came up with 'Sunrise in the Face'…and it stuck. Make it at home, have it in summer. It's awesome (not to toot my own horn or anything…).
We were also tipped off that East 9th Brewing Co. are working on something special for the Lick Pier line coming out in the near future…they stayed tight lipped on that otherwise…I tried!
Sauced Pasta Bar
A month ago, Sauced pasta bar also launched in Windsor, which I initially went to with no expectations, and was floored with what I got.
A warehouse space, with just enough exposed brickwall and a very slick marble counter top, and a gorgeous coffee machine I could not stop eyeing off (despite me not drinking coffee). I couldn't help noticing the well dressed and well heeled crowd who were happily knocking back Peroni's and totally delicious mini espresso martinis, that were coming out faster than the room could drink them!
Sauced, by Sylvan and Ben, who quite their jobs 6 months ago to focus on this, keeps the concept simple, good produce (from Australia or Italy only), quality ingredients and tasty food that nourishes the body. And quick to go. I was impressed with the variety available on the menu, allowing guests to choose from a snack size, or a regular size, the variety of pasta (of which there are plenty) and of course, the all important sauces. I was also floored with how reasonably priced the menu options were, with nothing being over $15 and just about all the snack sizes sitting neatly under $10. Would have loved this to have been around when I was in Uni!
So keen and hungry, I somehow managed to elbow my way through all the pretty people to the marble counter…and sit right in front of where the food was getting plated up. Aw yeah.
There I made friends with Chef Jordan, who seemed extremely focussed on feeding the crowd the whole night, but took a moment every now and again to have a little chat with me. And also give me a nibble of the parmesan from Venice that's aged for 24 months and shipped to them 3 times a week. Oh my gosh. Get this stuff on your pasta. It's awesome.
Now at launches, I'm not usually expecting to be fed very well, but Chef Jordan really worked it out, and I was totally stuffed come the end of the night! The crumbed stuffed green olives are salty, delicious and perfect as a nibble while waiting for the pasta.
The pasta itself is currently made offsite daily at a factory, but the plan is to eventually expand the kitchen, get a pasta machine and pop up a glass wall so people can see the process. As it stands currently though, the kitchen is careful not to overcook the pasta, on the launch night it's occasionally a little under (which I would prefer to over), but most of the time it's perfectly al dente. From the rigatoni bolognese, to the sweet potato ravioli.
I enjoy the heartiness and freshness of the sauces, they feel light and not gluggy, I quickly lose track of all the sauces we sample!
I also love the option of having 'Raw' pasta, which is essentially thin ribbons of zucchini and carrots (I think). Perfect for those gluten free, or who are seriously counting their calories (but why would anyone really do the latter anyway?). Jordan srves it up with creme fraiche sauce with green peas and lemon that I want a bowl of in a heartbeat. Fresh, light and so zesty, this would be so perfect in summer!
I really could go on about each pasta we tried (I loved this 'Cresti Di Galo' pasta, which I dubbed the seahorse pasta), but at the price point it's at, you'll just have to come in and try some for yourselves. I've been meaning to be back…but Melbourne always makes that a bit difficult. While Sauced may not be your hours of love, nonna type meal, it is a very current and upbeat take, which should sit nicely with the university crowd…and well most others really.
So please go in and tell me what the doughnuts are like (I missed out on them), which are apparently filled with milk and dark chocolate and served with vanilla ice-cream, and tuck into some of 'The Pool Boy' sauce. Teeheehee!
Level 4, 264 Swanston Street
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148 Chapel Street
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