Does ‘purple drank’ or ‘sizzurp’ mean anything to you? It means something to this guy.
Mixing cough syrup with mountain dew results in a purple fluid, and a very weird way of gettin’ high. Apparently it’s big if you’re into hip hop, live near Texas and like drooling on yourself as you slip into a waking coma. If you’re not keen on any of those things, don’t fret: we have our own version of purple drank now. Behold, Mother: Frosty Berry flavour.
The resemblance of the logo to some kind of Crusty Demons poster is significant. Unlike purple drank Texan-style, this purple shit has enough caffeine in it to make you want to get naked and chew on somebody’s face, while doing burnouts and fishtails. In a space shuttle.
If that sounds like fun, you must be wondering: does it actually taste good? I think so, but what would a true beer (or wine) snob say?
“It pours lurid purple with a lilac, frothy head that fades quickly. The nose presents strong, flat notes of warm grape jelly. On the palate the mouthfeel is surprisingly soft and buttery, but resolves quickly to fresh factory fruits and food acid. The finish is dry, with a full and lingering jelly aroma and hints of aluminium, typical of this varietal’s North Parramatta terroir”
Essentially, this is the Fanta Grape of the energy drink market. Sweeter than normal Mother, Red Bull or V, but with a weird fruitiness that reminds me of the cheapest lollies at the school tuckshop. I really appreciate the lower acidity of this drink, and if the local kwik-e-mart is out of Rock Star and Boca Lupo, this is a safe plan C for you energy junkies out there.
No comment on whether it’s good with cough syrup…
[Last weekend, an upcoming bar/restaurant place called Alfred and Constance fed my awesome friend Nhi a whole lot of delicious cocktails and she wrote a fantastic review for us. I loved it, hope you do too. Enjoy!]
‘Tiki Bar’ – the very words don’t conjure good thoughts. Not once have I woken up and thought, “Today’s the day I’m going to sit under a cheap straw hut and drink cocktails with tiny umbrellas that are more wasteful than decorative, surrounded by fake wood mask carvings and furniture from Bali at Home.”
Putting aside the fact that there are probably few people who do have these thoughts, it was with these not very positive impressions that I headed to a preview cocktail tasting for Alfred and Constance, a new bar from the team behind Limes set to open in August. Currently under construction next to Limes (aptly on the corner of Alfred and Constance streets), the bar promises to be a one-stop-shop for food and drink. There’ll be a gastro bar with a wood fired oven (to roast whole animals, no less), milk bar, beer garden with more than 30 beers on tap, dessert café, underground wine cellar and yes, a tiki bar. The tiki bar is where the fun, dancing and grass-skirt shaking will happen.
Disclaimer: I have never actually been to a tiki bar – but for good (maybe ill-informed) reason. I know they’re inspired by Polynesian culture and the more kitsch and fun, the better. I’m a big fan of kitsch. But to me, like tribal tattoos on a white guy, they offend rather than romanticise Polynesian culture. At the preview (held at Limes) we were offered to taste six cocktails set to be on the tiki bar menu – I wondered if a tipple would help change my mind.
First up was the classic (trite?) pina colada. Served in a half-pineapple, it was quite frothy and not as sweet and ‘coconut-y’ as pina coladas I’ve tried before. My Plus One agreed and we were both disappointed when our second pina colada came out much the same, in addition to being unpleasantly lukewarm. The head bartender used fresh pineapple juice rather than (usually very sweet) bottled juice – always a plus in my books, but perhaps this crop wasn’t as sweet as it should have been.
My Plus One told me that a popular tiki bar in London called Mahiki serves their pina coladas in whole pineapples. Alfred and Constance need to lift their kitsch-game if they want to play with the best! And it may be this monstrosity that’ll get them there:
Behold the kava bowl cocktail, a drink to be shared between four or five people. I say monstrosity in a good way – who doesn’t love absurdly over-sized things? Served in a ‘volcano bowl’, the cocktail includes rum, house made almond syrup, grenadine and citrus juices (the absence of actual kava didn’t go unnoticed). An extra shot of rum in a half-lime balanced on the volcano bowl’s crater and, when set alight and sprinkled with fresh cinnamon, delightfully replicated a lava explosion. [Ed- be glad it doesn’t have kava in it. Kava tastes like detergent mixed through ditch-water].
The cocktail itself was refreshing, cordial-like and scarily easy to drink thanks to the sweetness from the grenadine and juices. I was starting to understand why those Full Moon Party buckets in Thailand are so popular – drinking from communal bowls is fun.
Heck, even the whole concept of tiki bars was beginning to grow on me. The bartenders and staff at Alfred and Constance showed a genuine passion for all things tiki and cocktails, and this definitely rubbed off – the remaining cocktails we tasted were excellent. They had done their research, seeking out tiki bars around the world, and demonstrated a thorough knowledge of its history. Sure, a white guy invented them and they’re super tacky – but maybe tiki bars are not meant to offend, but rather pay homage, to the culture of our Polynesian neighbours.
Alex Lotersztain, Queensland’s current darling of the design industry, will be doing the interiors of Alfred and Constance. Given that he designed Limes Hotel and a bunch of cool things around Brisbane you never knew you knew, I’m certain he’ll bring a level of taste and maybe even elegance to Brisbane’s first tiki bar.
Alfred and Constance is sure to get everyone excited about at least one of their diverse offerings. With such an eclectic mix, they do run the risk of being a confused jumble of everything, rather than targeting a niche group of patrons. But I’m not too worried – Alfred and Constance’s great reputation precedes them and with a bunch of big restaurant heavyweights behind them (including E’cco Bistro’s chef and Jocelyn Hancock of Jocelyn’s Provisions) they’re sure to add an interesting dimension to Brisbane’s bar and restaurant scene.
Alfred and Constance opens mid-July.
Mikeller 1000IBU (beer)
Unrated: novelty value only
Mikkeller – Denmark’s ‘gypsy brewer’ – is famed for a number of things, but his achievement of making what is supposedly the world’s hoppiest beer is now seared into my memory. And palate.
With a theoretical rating of 1000 International Bitterness Units (IBUs), Mikkeller 1000 IBU has a reputation that makes it irresistable, in the same way that a dangerous mountain or really spicy food is alluring because of the challenge it promises. I like hops, even very strong double IPAs, so I scurried down to The Scratch in excitement, like a moth attracted to a fiery green hop-lamp. Needless to say, I got burnt.
I’ll let the photos describe the experience for you.
It looked like this:
And I was like:
Because it tasted like:
I guess sometimes memorable accomplishments aren’t always pleasant. Having guzzled almost half a litre of this stuff, I feel like I have more hops in me than the average brewery.
Much like Rex Attitude, this an a beer for extremophiles. Try it once, at the end of a session, and savour the craziness even as your palate dries and your eyes start to water. Don’t even think about trying to enjoy anything afterwards.
BONUS FACT: This was the 4.9% ‘lite’ version. Apparently they do a 9% one which is inexplicably named ‘ultramate’.
Yardbird Ale House – 6/24 Martin St, Fortitude Valley
4/10 – Avoid
At some point, every genuine innovation will be imitated poorly, by someone vastly less competent and sincere. For every Nirvana, a Short Stack must eventually follow. Yard Bird Ale House is surely the Short Stack of Brisbane’s bar scene: ugly, cheap and utterly lacking in any genuine conviction other than a desire to make money.
The craft beer emergence across Brisbane has spawned some exciting new bars in the last few months, but it’s also become a bandwagon. Yard Bird clings to it with transparent desparation that is immediately apparent, and had plenty of visitors annoyed when I came through. They spruik their craft beer credentials, yet offer only a few common brews from big breweries like Little Creatures and Monteiths. The decor is a confused mix of Ed Hardy trash, zombie art and low-budget woodland kitsch, including a tatty stuffed pheasant. A number of staff are rude and incompetent, often at the same time. There’s always a queue at the bar. They can’t even get seating right; when it rained, a number of seats under their haphazard temporary gazebos got soaked, and things got cramped quickly.
Worst of all, Yardbird heavily markets ‘specials’ that conveniently run out of stock just as the day gets going. At 1pm we were told ‘we’re not serving food yet’, even as other visitors were already tucking into meals. By 1:30 food might’ve been an option for our hungry group, but ‘oh, we’ve changed the time for the special, it starts at 3pm now’ and then by 2pm the line was ‘yeah, we’ve run out’, delivered with hostility and a total lack of shame or apology. As this was going on, the promised special continued to flow from the kitchen, even as they turned other guests down and ignored the growing queue at the bar. At best this is serious incompetence; at worst it’s a deliberate trick to get people buying more booze and their other (overpriced) menu items.
Avoid this shithole. People have already started drawing cocks on the walls, and I wish I’d brought some paint along to do the same. Yardbird’s best shot at any long-term custom is its cheap alcohol and competitive eating (classy, yeah), and they can be relied on to eventually mess these up too.
I usually detest the word ‘meh’. It is the ultimate communicative cop-out; an expression of apathy, of being so disengaged that even explaining one’s indifference is like, so not worth it. So I find myself a bit baffled that right now, for the first time, it’s the perfect thing to say.
On the topic of having breakfast at Anouk: ‘meh’.
There, I said it. I even gave my hair a little swish, as if to push my nonexistent fringe away from my eyes.
Anouk has deserved this term not by being good, not by being bad, but by being so surprisingly unremarkable. In spite of a creative menu (which apparently changes constantly) and plenty of hype, the best thing about my meal by far was the interesting conversation in between bites. Anouk left me with nothing to remember it by, and I left with food still on my plate.
The food is clever, but lacks flair. The coffee is, well, okay. The interior is comfortable, but comes with nothing to recommend it, though the large furry things on the walls (huge sheepskins?) make for a decent talking point. Service is like the furtive mating of panda bears: loving and attentive but slow to get going. Prices are on the steep side, yet punters were out in droves (literally queueing out the door) to cough up for the meals on offer. Even the logo is a bit confused: a font like the one used in those ironic sailor tatts that hipsters get on their chests, but in the loopy cursive form that bogan females like to get on their wrists or lower backs.
Strange times. Here’s some specifics on the food. To its credit, it was excellently presented.
These are the ‘Beignets’ (basically savoury dougnuts) made out of sweet potato, sage and Gruyere (a kind of Swiss cheese). Surprisingly these were quite bland, lacking a strong flavour of herbs, cheese or even sweet potato. The Hollandaise was pretty acidic, and the overall impression was one of eating fried mash covered in lemony mayo. It’s clear a lot of inspiration goes into coming up with these meals which made the pretty mild taste quite surprising. The Mistress was pretty pleased, though.
Baklava french toast. This was a pretty awesome idea indeed, yet it didn’t have anyone crying out for more. Anouk avoided the cardinal sin of french toast, which is having it a bit too wet in the middle; they get kudos for this. Sadly, the toast was on the other end of the spectrum – almost dry bread except for a milimetre of batter on either side. Pistachio walnut crumble is exactly as good as it sounds though.
Our other guests had various egg dishes that had them pretty happy but didn’t quite seem to bring on the ‘wow’ moment – this is what I kept waiting for. It never came, until we came upon this ridiculous dog that we found outside the cafe, pissing (sweating?) blithely in the spring sunshine. Wow.
I’m starting to develop a theory that restaurants can reach a point of hype that even with un-amazing food, the sheer social momentum of word-of-mouth is enough to keep everyone in love with a place regardless. If that’s what’s happening here, it all makes sense.
Otherwise, well… meh.
Rex Attitude (beer)
Unrated: novelty value only
How did you feel when the Vic burnt down a couple years back? English doesn’t have a single word for my sentiments, so we’ll borrow from German: Schadenfruede: ‘joy at the suffering of one’s enemies’. The sweet smell of schadenfruede and ash accompanied my stroll to work for weeks after that fire.
The use of german is apt, because I relive this feeling every time I visit the Brisbane German Club. It was this grubby establishment that introduced me to one of my favourite drops: smoked beer (or Rauchbier, as some brewers still call it). By drying malt over an open fire, and then using it in the brewing process, you get BEER THAT TASTES LIKE FIRE. Or burning bogan establishments (‘victory’ indeed). The classic is ‘Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier’, which at about $10 a pint is the closest thing that a person can drink to smoky bacon that isn’t, well, bacon grease.
To my delight, I discovered that smoked beer is actually not that hard to find locally. Sunshine Coast Brewery does a really excellent smoked beer, as does the 3 Ravens Brewery – both taste less like bacon and more like proper smoke.
Twitter is a good place for beer dorks since one can talk direct to brewers. Thus, I was told by @Yeastieboys a couple months back that their ‘Rex Attitude’ Golden Ale is the smokiest stuff on the market. It’s made of peated malt: the same stuff that makes some of the world’s more potent scotch (e.g. Laphroaig’s Quarter Cask) taste like burning swampwater. Then at a recent tasting, local beer guru Matt Kirkegaard apparently described the stuff as tasting ‘like pissing on campfire’. Mmm.
Naturally, I was sold, and scurried down to Archive’s cellar to secure a bottle.
Here it is:
Exciting as it is to look at (as one friend said, “That looks like Trogdor”), Rex Attitude is a brutal experience and I’m not sure if I mean that in a good ‘let’s be heavy metal about this’ way. I have had single malt whisky straight after waking up at 5am and this was even less pleasant than that. In some ways it is still exciting as a novelty and it was drinkable, but a bottle is too much for one man.
On the pour Rex Attitude is deceptively pale and modest; unlike other smoky beers there is no visual cue for the coming devastation. However, the smell is incredible. On opening the bottle, the rich, smoky aroma is intense – very pleasantly scotchy but with a chemical hint that makes me imagine that the paint peeled on nearby walls and eyes watered around the table. One friend could smell it being opened from three metres away, and more than one guest got a bit of methane/ammonia on the nose. Yes, this may indeed be the scent of a burning pit-latrine.
On the palate it attacks ruthlessly, refusing to deliver even a hint of the malty richness that is typical in many smoke beers. It does deliver a strangely dry, intense, inorganic chemical flavour that I’ve experienced once before in old french wine. To be precise, this is the taste of oil paint, right in your mouth. We were all toddlers once, and lessons are learnt at that age.
The finish is lingering in ways that I’ve seldom experienced, too. The ashes of that burning pit-latrine linger at the back of your throat long after the surprised soldier has been carted off to hospital.
In summary: check this out for lols, if you like a challenge, but don’t even think about buying a six-pack. It is not an entirely joyous challenge, but it is much more fun than drinking bacon grease or having a toilet explode under you.
On account of being a bit sick and uninspired to write, I instead provide a fun little photoessay themed around things that will make you go ‘:S’ in Brisbane.
Wendy Francis (the christian leader in the recent Adshel snafu) musta missed this one. It is corrupting our youth by making them all :S when they visit Coles.