canberra

Summer Cocktail Series: The Highball Express

highball express cocktails canberra

Let’s take a trip together. It’s Friday afternoon, you’ve just finished work and the warm evening air welcomes you to the weekend as you walk outside. Enter, the Highball Express – Canberra’s newest bar that’s flown in just in time for the summer.

If you haven’t heard about it yet, the Highball Express was the nickname for the plane that took wealthy Americans to Cuba during the Prohibition years. On board, they would drink cocktails in highball glasses, excited for a weekend full of sunshine, Cuban rum and everything that Prohibition America wasn’t.

So about that trip. The Highball Express is an easy, breezy, laid-back bar that will whisk you away to Cuba with the first sip of a rum cocktail. Located on the top floor of the Melbourne Building (above Smith’s Alternative on Alinga Street), the shady open balcony that looks out to Black Mountain is the perfect spot for a warm Friday afternoon.

highball express cocktails canberra

When it comes to the contents of your glass, rum cocktails is where it’s at. The team behind the Highball Express are serious about their rum. So serious that they’re even barrel-ageing cocktails.

It was a warm but rainy Friday night when I visited with some friends a couple weeks back. As I came in off the street dripping from the rain, I couldn’t have been more ready for a rum cocktail or two. As we sat on the balcony watching the rain come down, we sampled more than a few on the list and loved every one.

highball express cocktails canberra

If you’re into interesting and unusual drinks, the carrot-flavoured cocktail is surprisingly good. And if you’re with a group, I recommend ordering a rum punch from Peggy, the cute little punch trolley.

I am so glad the Highball Express landed when it did. I can see it quickly becoming a summer favourite – sitting on that bright and breezy balcony, sipping on some rum and enjoying the warm weather.

If you’re keen to jump on board and see what all the fuss is about, fly up the stairs at 82 Alinga Street in the City or check in to the Highball Express on facebook or instagram.

– Bec x

highball express cocktails canberra

highball express cocktails canberrahighball express cocktails canberra

highball express cocktails canberra

Advertisements

Canberra Cafe: Urban Pantry, Manuka

urban pantry manuka

It’s Steven’s birthday today and we are of course heading out for birthday brunch to celebrate. But I thought it appropriate, on this day of celebration brunch, that we share our latest Canberra cafe feature – Urban Pantry in Manuka.

It was a few weeks back that Steve and I spent a Sunday afternoon sussing out the newly revamped mainstay of the Manuka cafe scene. Urban Pantry has been kicking around Manuka for a while now, but it had been a long time since either of us had visited and we were keen to check out their new digs.

Their fresh new look is just that – fresh. They’ve gone for a Hamptons inspired interior, it’s laid-back, very white and a space that you want to spend time in. My favourite addition is the new deck outside, where Steve and I were seated after a short wait. It seems we weren’t the only ones who wanted to see what had changed that day.

urban pantry manuka

The menu has had a makeover too and we were faced with a tough choice. In the end, we both went for all-day breakfast and chose the two most indulgent items we could find. I had the madeleine ricotta pancakes ($16) with green apple, fresh berries and vanilla bean yoghurt, which came out light, fluffy and just the right amount of sweet. Steven ordered the brioche French toast ($16) with maple bacon, cinnamon mascarpone and toasted pecans, and by all reports enjoyed every last bite.

But the real hero of the whole revamp, in my opinion, is their new drinks list. With a big range of juices, smoothies, chilled organic teas and house made sodas on offer, they have something refreshing for everyone this summer. Their spiced chai house made soda is my pick of the bunch – an interesting flavour for a cold soda, but if you’re into your chai tea, then you’ll be into this.

Urban Pantry is located at 5 Bougainville Street in Manuka, they are open every day of the week and do all-day breakfast on weekends. You can also find them on facebook and instagram.

Oh, and happy birthday Steve! Love you little bro.

– Bec x

urban pantry manukaurban pantryurban pantry manukaurban pantry manukaurban pantry manukaurban pantry manuka

Canberra Eats: Akiba

akiba canberra

It didn’t take long for Akiba to shoot to the top of my favourite restaurant list when they opened up late last year. With a modern, fresh take on Asian cuisine, a killer drinks list and the best vibes going around, Akiba always leaves me wanting more.

A few weeks back, I found myself there once again. This time, it was a family affair to celebrate my dear Dad’s birthday. Not a family to shy away from a celebration, we ordered a round of drinks to start and then about a million dishes.

The drinks list at Akiba is exceptional. I introduced Mum to one of my favourite cocktails – the Stiletto, a simple but delicious combo of vanilla vodka, passionfruit and sparkling. The boys went for the non-alcoholic strawberry & mint “Akiba Pop”, which is made in house and comes with the option to “make it BOOM”. In this case, “BOOM” equals bourbon.

akiba canberra

The food at Akiba is designed to share and the dishes come out when they’re ready, even if you’re not. That night, we’d ordered so many that we were having trouble keeping up.

As the vegetarian, I made sure we had my favourites on the table – the shiitake and water chestnut dumplings with red vinegar and chilli oil ($10 for 4), the sweetcorn pancakes with chilli caramel and togarashi ($8 for 2) and, on the side, a serve of the smoky potato with dill, black garlic and mayo ($9).

From the raw menu, we ordered the oysters with ume mignonette ($10 for 4), the kingfish sashimi with coconut, nam jim and coriander ($14) and the snapper sashimi with jalapeno, yuzu and honey ($14). The pork belly buns ($8 each), the satay chicken sticks ($6 for 2) and the Japanese fried chicken ($16) kept the carnivores among us happy.

akiba canberra

Speaking of the Japanese fried chicken – this has got to be the favourite Akiba item among the men in my life. I once went out with three of them and they fobbed off the rest of the menu and just ordered a plate of chicken each. It comes served with lemon braised onions, parmesan and the option to go supercharged, which means a slathering of sriracha sauce for an extra $2. And yes, they always go supercharged.

Akiba’s dessert menu is pretty on point too. As if we hadn’t had enough to eat already, we ordered one of each dessert to share. There were three – the chocolate-filled steamed bun with passionfruit ($8), the lemon tofu cheesecake with anzac crumb and pandan jelly ($8) and my pick of them all, the chocolate coffee tart with shiso pickled strawberry ($9).

But it’s not just the drinks and food that keep me coming back to Akiba, it’s the pumping but relaxed vibes and consistently great service. The staff are always happy, helpful and super friendly and if you’re a fan of 90s RnB, the music will never disappoint.

If you haven’t been yet, then get yourself along to Akiba (40 Bunda Street, Civic) and check them out on facebook and instagram.

– Bec x

akiba canberra

akiba canberra

akiba canberra

akiba canberra

akiba canberra

akiba canberra

akiba canberra

akiba canberra

Summer Cocktail Series: White Rabbit Cocktail Room

Summer is my absolute favourite time of year. Sun-kissed skin, bare legs, cute party dresses and warm nights that seem to go on forever. It’s the time of year when cocktails at 3 in the afternoon is a regular occurrence and Friday night drinks is a must.

To celebrate the arrival of t-shirt weather, I’ve got a new series featuring some of my favourite cocktail bars in town. First up is new kid on the block, White Rabbit Cocktail Room. A few weeks back, a few of us dropped by for a sneaky Friday night drink.

Playful. Curious. Intimate. Decadent. Sophisticated. That’s how the owners describe this whimsical bar located on Northbourne Avenue in the city.

Everything at White Rabbit is a little bit pretty, a little bit decadent and a lot of fun. The team behind the scenes tell me they want people to feel pleasantly surprised by their unusual dessert and cocktail ideas – and pleasantly surprised we were. One look at the menu and we had fallen down the rabbit hole and landed right at the Mad Hatter’s table (cue all of the Alice in Wonderland puns).

For me, it’s all in the details. Like the cucumber sandwich that comes served with the Alice Be Curious cocktail, a sweet mix of Hendrick’s gin, Lillet Blanc and house made berry and rosemary tea served in a pretty little tea cup. Yes, a cocktail in a tea cup. It’s a scene straight out of Lewis Carroll’s imagination, am I right?

Also, be ready to get your sweet tooth on, for their other strong suit is dessert. Think creative items like blood plum soufflé served in a tea cup or a strawberry and vanilla bavarois “forest” featuring strawberry mushrooms and dark chocolate trees. It’s dreamy and decadent and had us all grinning like the Cheshire Cat.

When I ask what cocktail I should order for a hot summer night, I’m led in the direction of the Tweedle Rum. “It’s the perfect blend of rum, pomegranate, pineapple, ginger and crushed ice.” Served with pineapple chips on the side, I have to agree, the Tweedle Rum is the ultimate refresher.

So what else can we expect from them this summer? “More playful and quirky twists with the menu” – I can’t wait.

If you’re game, follow the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole to 65 Northbourne Avenue. You can also find this cute little cocktail bar on facebook and instagram.

– Bec x

white rabbit

white rabbit

white rabbit

white rabbit

white rabbit

white rabbit

white rabbit

Canberra Cafe: Muse, Kingston

muse canberra cafe

Ever since they opened their doors in August, I’ve been very keen to try the new part-cafe, part-wine bar, part-book store located at the East Hotel in Kingston – Muse.

Despite my best efforts, I hadn’t quite made it there until last weekend when Steve and I went out for a sibling catch up date. There was a short wait for a table when we arrived, but that didn’t matter. We ordered coffees and had just enough time to look through the book store and take cute photos of each other.

The entire menu was pretty tempting, but I couldn’t go past the “French Breakfast” – goats cheese, baguette, butter and jam, a choice of pastry, freshly squeezed orange juice and a little coffee. I went for the chocolate croissant as my pastry and was officially in French breakfast heaven. This is the perfect choice for people who like to graze when they eat – you can nibble on some baguette with cheese, have a corner of your pastry, sip on some OJ and then go back for more cheese. And for $20, it’s damn good value too.

muse canberra cafe

Steve was also pretty chuffed with his choice. He went for something a little sweeter and ordered the buckwheat and coconut waffles with banana, nut crumble and dulce de leche ($16). The banana came in ice cream form and was all kinds of delicious, tying the rest of the ingredients together in a breakfast that could almost be dessert. And let’s face it, who doesn’t like dessert for breakfast?

Muse effortlessly throws together food, wine and books in a way that works, and works well. I particularly love their attention to detail and their commitment to local and seasonal food. Their lunch menu changes daily to keep things fresh and they use locally-roasted coffee from Red Brick Espresso, one of my favourites. With different events scheduled regularly (think book launches and wine nights), Muse has you covered not only when it comes to good food, but arts and culture too. 

Muse is located at the East Hotel (69 Canberra Avenue, Kingston), and can also be found online and on facebook and instagram.

– Bec x

muse canberra cafe

muse canberra cafe

muse canberra cafe

muse canberra cafe

muse canberra cafe