Warning: descending the steps to the CBD’s newest watering hole may trigger flashbacks.
The chesterfield couches. The framed early-20th-century surveyor’s maps of South Perth, Bicton and Como. The Aladdin’s cave of vintage, bar-related paraphernalia and Westraliana. It’s enough to make you wonder whether you’ve tumbled back through time, Life on Mars-style.
There’s no need to adjust your set. This vintage aesthetic is simply a reflection of the tastes of Dimitri Rtshiladze, veteran Perth bartender and owner of Foxtrot Unicorn. And despite his fondness for the historic – and the 130-year-old site – this new bar offers a contemporary drinking experience, even if the menu is hard to pigeonhole.
“I think people are using it the way we intended,” says the former Mechanics Institute manager. “We wanted it to be a little cocktail bar with a lot of options. One in every three drinks we sell is a cocktail, but people in the city are drinking natural wine, and things from smaller winemakers and brewers are selling really well. We’re also selling a lot of whisky, gin, rum and tequila.”
Old-school furniture and fixtures aside, there are other nods to the backstories of Rtshiladze and his key offsiders. Drinks such as the Banana Daiquiri and the Honeycomb Old-Fashioned are mementos of bar manager Tom Kearney’s time at venues such as Dominion League, Palace Arcade and Panama Social. In addition to a thoughtfully selected back bar of spirits and a tight menu of cocktails organised by group (classics, highballs, native, alcohol-free), drinkers can also sample rare vintage spirits and, for those feeling frisky, ask to have classic drinks made with these liquid time capsules. A brisk Martini made with 1950s gin, anyone?
The strong cheese menu is the handiwork of kitchen boss Jessica Arnott, who helped open the now-closed Fromage Artisans in this very space in 2017. In addition to selecting great cheeses from WA and further afield, Arnott is also behind the 10-cheese toastie on the menu. (Pro-tip: a side order of kimchi is a must.) There’s also bolognaise-stuffed number and changing toastie specials too. (In the first month the bar has served a chicken pot pie version and one with pork rillette and caramelised onion.) Charcuterie from Black Pig Deli in Inglewood rounds off the menu.