As previously mentioned, the Eat Drink Perth festival is on throughout March and showcases the City of Perth’s food and wine scene with a variety of events and special dining offers. I was invited to attend a Cocktail Class at Canton Lounge Bar, a special event occurring each Wednesday during March. The small $39 price tag includes a short history lesson, demonstration and hands-on creation of two cocktails, plus each drink is paired with a canapé.
Canton Lounge Bar is located on Hay Street, opposite the court house. The entrance to Canton Lounge Bar is through a discreet red doorway. When you head up the stairs you walk into an unexpectedly large space which is fit out with dark wooden high tables and chairs, red lights and gorgeous artwork on a few of the walls.
We arrived just after 6.30pm, the start time of the cocktail class as mentioned on the Eat Drink Perth website. We approached the bar and mentioned to one of the bartenders that we were there for the cocktail class but were told that it didn’t start until 7.30. Due to the confusion, the bartender offered us a drink while we waited and we both opted for a strawberry mocktail. Mike made A and I a lovely Strawberry and Earl Grey-syrup mocktail, made with fresh strawberries and house-made earl grey syrup. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might remember that I am slightly obsessed with Iced Tea, to the point that I perfected my own recipe after a few months of trialling different versions I found online. This mocktail had an iced tea flavour to it, but with lots of fresh strawberry flavour. It was amazing!
After an hour, we were ready to start the Cocktail Class. Mike (part-owner and cocktail bartender) was our tutor for the evening and he began by providing a short summary of his work history which features 1907, one of Perth’s best cocktail bars.
Our lesson started with Mike providing some history to the cocktail. Unsurprisingly, there has been a lot of debate on the history of cocktails, especially who created what and where. A and I are both relatively uneducated when it comes to cocktails, so it was good to ask a few questions and learn the different terms – for instance ‘Collins’, ‘Cobbler’, ‘Fizz’ and ‘Flip’.
Our first cocktail demonstration was the famous (and favourite) Mojito. Mike mentioned during the demonstration that shaking a mojito is a big no-no, as the mint becomes bruised and bitter. We were shown this through the difference between sucking and chewing a mint leaf – the flavour changes dramatically from a sweet, light flavour to a bitter and strong taste.
The last ingredient to add to our mojitos was the soda water. Canton Lounge Bar make their own soda water and when it came time to make our own mojitos, both A and I were both very gentle with the soda syphon, an old-school device used to dispense the soda water. I’ve never used one before and have only seen them on old-fashioned movies or at fancy bars, so I was very cautious when I used it. It was amazingly heavy too!
After Mike demonstrated how to make a mojito, A and I made our own while Mike looked on and provided pointers, if needed. My favourite bit was when our drinks were finished – all that was left was to sit back and sip our drinks!
Canton Lounge Bar matches the canapés with the drinks featured within the class. Our Mojito was paired with Garlic Mushroom Croquettes, a Cuban street food which matched our Cuban mojito. I really enjoyed these croquettes, which were crispy on the outside and the filling had lots of flavour to it.
I couldn’t help but interrupt the class to ask about the large canister on the bar which holds the ‘Canton Iced Tea’. For $3 a glass you can try some of the house iced tea, or for $10 you can get a G & Tea.
A and I tried a glass and we both agreed that it would be a perfect match with gin (and I can already tell that this will be what I order when I return to Canton Lounge Bar!).
Our second cocktail lesson for the evening was the Cosmo, which is a cocktail I’ve been meaning to try ever since seeing it on Sex and the City.
The recipe is really easy and it wasn’t long before we were ready to shake our mixture.
We watched Mike shake vigorously for 10 seconds and strain the bright pink liquid into the awaiting cold glasses. I love the theatrics of making cocktails and couldn’t wait to make my own.
My first Cosmo won me over – it wasn’t sweet and I loved that the taste of the liquor was masked through the cranberry juice. A and I happily sipped our cosmos while chatting with Mike at the bar. It wasn’t too long until our matching canapé arrived, the Beef and Blue Cheese Mousse New York sandwich. Even though it looks simple, the flavour is huge. The blue cheese mousse with the wagyu pattie is a sublime match, but the crispy, light, buttery bread was the added element that made A and I wanting more. So much so that a week later and we are still talking about this sandwich (and the cosmo!) and wondering if it’s strange if we attend another cocktail class especially for this delicious match as unfortunately this sandwich isn’t featured on the menu.
Even though the cocktail class was over, A and I continued chatting with Mike. We learnt that Canton Lounge Bar have a variety of Japanese scotches available and there are a number of people who venture to Canton especially for their collection.
Mike mentioned that Canton Lounge Bar takes requests for the cocktails featured within the classes, so if you’d prefer to learn something specific, call Mike to request it. I really recommend heading to one of these classes, as $39 for two cocktails (and lessons on how to make them), plus the amazing Beef and Blue Cheese Mousse New York sandwich is a bargain!
A and I will definitely be back, either for another cocktail class or a cosmo and some of the other awesome sounding Asian food on the menu (which are very reasonably priced too!).