The February issue

Our clean eating issue is out now, packed with super lunch bowls, gluten-free desserts and more - including our cruising special, covering all luxury on the seas.

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Australia's top 20 rieslings
22.02.2017

We’re spoilt for variety – and value – in Australia when it comes to good riesling. Max Allen picks the top 20 from a fine crop.

Recipes by Christine Manfield
21.02.2017

As the '90s dawned, darling chefs were pushing the boundaries of cooking in this country. A young Christine Manfield, just starting out at this heady time, soon became part of the generation that redefined modern Australian cuisine. She shares some of her timeless signatures from the era.

Normandy landings
20.02.2017

To travel to Normandy along the Seine is to take it by stealth, writes Larissa Dubecki, who ventured forth in search of chateaux and Calvados.

Cirrus, Sydney review
20.02.2017

Cirrus moves the Bentley team down to the water and into more lighthearted territory without sacrificing polish, writes Pat Nourse.

How to grow rocket
20.02.2017

A vegetable patch without rocket lacks a great staple, according to Mat Pember. The perennial performer is a leaf for all seasons.

50BestTalks brings World’s best chefs to Sydney and Melbourne
16.02.2017

Massimo Bottura and more are coming to the Sydney Opera House.

Toby Wilson, Sean McManus and Jon Kennedy to open Bad Hombres
16.02.2017

Expect Mexican-Asian flavours and an all-natural wine list from two of Sydney’s edgier operators.

Local Knowledge: Moscow
16.02.2017

Director of Shakespeare theatre company Cheek by Jowl Declan Donnellan walks us through the essential sights and his favourite cafes and restaurants of his hometown.

Bar Exuberante preview

Matt Bax, Bar Exuberante

Matt Bax, Bar Exuberante

Two years ago, Matt Bax closed the doors to Der Raum, the game-changing Melbourne bar recognised as one of the world's cocktail trailblazers. Bar Económico took its place - a rollicking "rum brothel" and roaring contrast to the polish and price-point of its predecessor. Tomorrow, though, Bax brings a little bit of that Der Raum magic back with Bar Exuberante, a slick 14-seat complement to its more gregarious sister on the same site.

"They are totally separate but both rooted in rum culture," says Bax. "Just different ends of the spectrum."

The Exuberante end is fine rums and cocktails kicking off at a not-inconsiderable $22 a pop. "Some of Der Raum's famous creations have been revived and, I'd say, improved," he says. "The fanciness is back in Richmond."

Der Raum's famous Hot Cold Piña Colada makes a comeback, while the BX Cocktail No.1, a variant on Der Raum's New York Minute, comprises Carpano Antica Formula vermouth, Luxardo Maraschino, robust barrel-aged bitters, macerated roasted Guatemalan coffee beans and Ron Zacapa 23-year rum.

"Our Zombie, Daiquiri and Mojito are by far the best I've ever tried," Bax says. He checks himself: "I'm a biased, arrogant bastard, but I'm happy to stand behind that claim."

Drinkers who don't dig on rum aren't left sucking their thumbs, either. Bar Americano's Negroni has migrated south of the CBD and the 1864 Manhattan from Der Raum makes a reappearance.

Bax has lost none of his flair for detail. The ice, as at Bar Americano, is branded. "Of course it makes our drinks taste better," he quips. He's lost none of his taste for top-dollar offerings, either, but you get what you pay for. There's a $30 cocktail, The Airmail, which comes with a letter from one of the world's leading bars (Artesian in London, perhaps, or New York's Attaboy). "You also get to send a letter back," says Bax, "all included in the price of the cocktail." Der Raum's flavour chart is back in the form of a cocktail clock, and the rum list has been simplified into a dart board-inspired target.

"Anyone can, in theory, pick the perfect cocktail or nip of rum without knowing anything about either liquid," says Bax. "It took me about six to nine months to get these two features perfect."

As for the theme, a sort of imperial-era hotel chic: "It's the love child of every pompous hotel I've ever stayed in," he says. "I cringed when I later heard about Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel coming out, but I'm a massive fan so I don't care about the comparisons."

Bar Exuberante, 438 Church St, Richmond, Vic, (03) 9428 0055

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