“I already feel far more relaxed now than when I was in Sydney.”
Jess Arnott – cook, bartender, cheese connoisseur, and one-time Masterchef contestant – is clearly enjoying being back in Perth. After moving back to her hometown of Sydney a year ago, she and husband Richard returned west three weeks ago after realising the Emerald City was no longer for them.
“Moving back [to Sydney] was always on the card, but when we actually did, it didn’t feel like we were in the right place,” says Arnott. “I’m old enough now that I enjoy the slightly slower pace of Perth. I don’t know if I would have felt the same in my early twenties, but in my early thirties, I’m happy here.”
Part of that happiness has to do with her new role as “lord of liquor” – or general manager, if you will – of Tiny’s Liquor Emporium in the CBD. Considering Arnott’s impressive CV, she’s an ideal candidate for the position that calls for a deep knowledge and interest in beer, wine, spirits and good snacking.
“I want to make it a bit more food and spirits focused,” says the hospitality all-rounder. “Bump up the menu, enhance the selection and put a few more meats and cheeses on the menu. I’d really like to put some charcuterie boards together.”
To celebrate Arnott’s return, tonight’s edition of Tiny’s regular Thursday tasting will feature five of her selections. The theme? “Stuff I want to drink and listen to,” she says.
Below she shares what guests can expect to sample tonight and, moving forwards, throughout the reign of Tiny’s incumbent lord of liquor.
Heretic White 2017
Wine from Margaret River and its surrounds makes up about two per cent of Aussie wine produced, but we had seven producers named in this year’s Young Gun of Wine Top 50. That’s a pretty amazing percentage and I’m here to drink all the cool, status-quo-challenging juice they can come up with. When Dan Stocker talks about making Heretic wines, it resonates with me. The 2017 Heretic is 100 per cent barrel-fermented savagnin.
Savagnin is unrelated to the much-maligned passionfruit and cat’s pee monster we have, somewhat unfairly, come to know sauvignon blanc as. Savagnin actually arrived in Australia disguised as albarino, and when prepared in Heretic fashion, is a toasty, textural and orchard fruit number with a little herbaceous sea-spray to neaten everything up.
Sawa Sawa Rouge 2017 Tiny’s Liquor Emporium has plenty of wine that respects tradition with names you will recognise. And then there’s Sawa Sawa. I can’t tell you that much about it except that a couple of dudes from Western Australia’s LS Merchants and South Australia’s Vanguardist Wines teamed up to rip up the handbook and get weird.
The fruit is sourced 50-50 from WA and SA and was finished in South Australia. I can’t tell you what the grape variety is because there is no information on the label and, other than describing the wine as “unfined, unfiltered and unfuckedwith”, all Google searches have proved unfruitful. What I can tell you is that the wine is floral and juicy with a raw earthiness to it.
Archie Rose Signature Dry Gin
I had a really tough time picking a gin for this tasting. We have three gins here that, other than shining bright among the sea of new Aussie gins, were made by some of the best humans I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. However, Mitch “Rummy” Keane from West Winds and Sean Baxter from Never Never were pipped to the post by the endlessly charismatic Harriet Leigh from Sydney’s Archie Rose Distilling. Australian botanicals including blood lime, Dorrigo pepper leaf, lemon myrtle and river mint create a delicate and citrus-forward gin that I could easily drink neat.
Boston Brewing Co Afterglose Raspberry Gose
Gose is a beer brewed using lactobacillus (a form of bacteria that works similarly to a yeast) with traditionally salty water sources. It’s sour and salty and usually enhanced with a fruit flavour. It’s my drink of the summer and I’m hooked on it. This pale-pink raspberry expression from Denmark in Western Australia is perfectly tart, like biting into a slightly under ripe raspberry. It’s crushable and infinitely moreish. I'll take 12.
Beastie Boys – Ill Communication
I believe all wine is magically transformed into something greater when accompanied by the right ambience. Which dictates that good tunes are non-negotiable in the Liquor Emporium. The guys over at Highgate Continental put together an eclectic little collection for us and if you like anything playing in the shop you can buy it along with your wine, too. The record on highest rotation since I started has been Ill Communication by the Beastie Boys. I was nine when it was released in 1994, but had been listening to Triple J since birth. These days I have a much more adult appreciation of what is an unbelievably clever and diverse record combining jazz, funk, hip-hop and punk. Try Get It Together (disc one, side B, track two) with a glass of Riley Harrison’s Fleur de la Lune Grenache and try to tell me it doesn’t taste better.
Jess Arnott’s Welcome Back Tasting is on Thursday October 11 from 4.30pm to 6.30pm. Entry is free.