New bar brings a touch of Africa to Melbourne

19 February, 2020 by Andy Young

Bars and Clubs spoke to the Beverage Manager of a new bar in Melbourne about twisting classics and bringing a piece of Africa to Puza Bar.

Seagrass, a group more known for its restaurants like The Meat & Wine Co, Hunter Barrel and 6Head has opened a new bar in Chadstone, which plays on Meat & Wine Co’s South African roots.

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Described as a modern twist on the tradtional African watering hole, Puza Bar features a layered series of circular seated areas, velvet accents and earthy décor. The African theme also plays out in the cocktail offering, with Ben Preston, Seagrass Senior Beverage Manager and curator of the Puza Bar menu, telling Bars and Clubs he has looked to put an African twist on a few classics.

“We looked at all the classic cocktails that everybody loves and enjoys, plus some of our favourites from the bars in our restaurants. We wanted to have a little bit of African influence, because we have African DNA and heritage, but we didn’t want to go too hard.

“So we just created a few classics, that we put a little twist on with some African styles. So if you think of Amarula, anything with Bailey’s or creaminess, we’ve used Amarula.

“Also there is beautiful aperitif called Caperitif, which is made in Cape Town with Chenin Blanc from the Western Cape region, and it’s the beautiful sweet and sour vermouth. So we’ve blended that into a Negroni instead of Campari.

“So we have the Jozi Groni, which is Bulldog Gin, then some sweet vermouth and the Caperitif and little bit of orange bitters. And you get this beautiful, soft, orange sweet-dry texture that you would normally get with the Campari, but it’s made with the South African Chenin Blanc and it’s just gorgeous.”

Preston added: “The other was an African Moon – think of an old-school Toblerone-style drink. It’s a beautiful soft, creamy style that’s got Skyy Vodka, Amarula, Frangelico milk and honey. We shake that put it in an Old Fashioned glass with a bit of ice and some chocolate shavings on the top. You’ve got this Big Lebowski-style White Russian but it’s got Amarula and Frangelico in it, and it is just delicious.”

The third African influenced cocktail available is called African Sunset, featuring dark rum with Campari, vermouth and orange juice, and Preston told Bars and Clubs the idea was simply to have these old school drinks that everyone knows, “it’s beautiful, refreshing, easy drinking cocktails that people enjoy, but with a nice little twist on them for Puza.”

He added: “The vision for Puza bar menu was to curate something that is comfortable, ambitious, and stylish and with an afro-centric twist. I wanted guests to be able to enjoy a variety of cocktail’s, delicious ‘Single Malt’ selection’s, familiar back bar players, boutique wines, beer and whisky.”

Puza works as both a destination bar in its own right, but also as a place people can go for an aperitif, or digestif, either side of eating in the restaurant upstairs.

It is described as “a relaxing, intimate and underground bar, elegantly designed for the locals to enjoy in style, and on any occasion” and is now open underneath The Meat & Wine Co in Chadstone.

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