Dimitri Rtshiladze isn’t going to tell you how you should approach Foxtrot Unicorn, his new 100-person basement bar in the original headquarters of Western Australia’s R&I Bank. You want a beer? Go ahead. Wine? Be their guest. Somewhere to geek out about spirits and cocktails? You’ve come to the right place. Instead, he promises he and his team are going to do their darnedest to create a space that’s “comfortable and fun”.
“We just wanted to make a good bar,” says Rtshiladze, a gun bartender best known for his six-year stint at Mechanics Institute. “Progressive, ever-changing. You can come one week and then the next and have new stuff and never be bored. I’d like this to be a bar that guests feel they can come to and always find something they like.”
Although Foxtrot Unicorn channels good-natured humour (“It’s the Seinfeld of bars,” quips Rtshiladze. “It’s a bar about nothing”), plenty of thinking has gone into the operation. Gone is the mostly black fit-out of former tenant Fromage Artistans. In its place: lots of timber, Chesterfield couches, Westraliana galore and boozy ephemera, including pieces and furniture salvaged from long-gone bars. It’s a look that feels right at home in this 130-year-old space, with most of the room given over to mismatched tables and chairs.
While the spirits aren’t quite 130 years old, there’s a handy selection of vintage booze in the liquor cabinet, including irreplaceable gins and whiskies. Drinkers can sip these rare spirits neat, or enjoy them in vintage, era-specific cocktails (Whisky Sours made with brown spirit from the ’70s, say, or Hanky Pankies bulked out with ’60s-era fernet). Otherwise, guests can order from the rotating cocktail list. The opening selection includes classics, highballs, native-inspired beverages and non-alcoholic options, alongside the aforementioned vintage numbers. Local producers will feature strongly in the beer and wine selections.
Joining Rtshiladze are Mechanics Institute and Dominion League offsiders Tom Kearney (bar manager) and Jessica Arnott (who’ll be overseeing the food). Cheese and charcuterie will form the cornerstone of the menu, with local smallgoods producer Black Pig Deli bringing the porky and beefy good times to the party (here’s to you, lemon-myrtle lomo and pepperberry-spiked pancetta). There’s also a bolognaise and cheese jaffle, and Arnott has plans to add “completely irreverent, but yummy” fillings such as mapo tofu and French onion soup to the menu soon.
Foxtrot Unicorn opens tonight.