Small-batch, craft, boutique and hand-made doesn’t always mean pretentious and unapproachable. Sometimes it means jaffles and good times
Local spirits and Lamington jaffles. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Well, maybe it isn’t. Mexico has tequila and tacos. America has beer and hamburgers; so why can’t Melbourne have Australian spirits and sealed toasties?
That’s what owner Sebastian Costello thinks, anyways. He has opened Bad Frankie in the old Bar Paradiso site, which once housed the neighbourhood’s favourite so-kitsch-it-was-good café, Felice’s. Walk into the small lounge and bar and you’ll see tea candles in Mason jars acting as lamps, a mirror running around the wood-panelled walls to trick you into thinking the space is larger than it is, and rope hanging from the ceiling.
When you think local spirits, you probably think a few gins, a couple of whiskies, a handful of rums and a vodka or two. Wrong. The generous bar featuring multiple examples of each spirit would leave any booze enthusiast in shock at how well Costello has stocked the place. Whiskies include favourites such as Tasmania’s Lark, Sullivan’s Cove, Hellyers Road and Nant, to Victoria’s Bakery Hill and newcomer Starward; Gins run for a whole page including Four Pillars from the Yarra Valley, all the way to the lesser known KIS and Great Southern. You get the idea.
Costello hands over a drinks menu littered with clever combinations and justified pairings like West Winds’ savoury-style gin in a dirty Martini called the Salty Dog, served with an eye dropper of brine so you can adjust the dirtiness according to your preference, but has MGC’s gin in a Pepperberry Fizz to highlight the dry, crisp quality of the spirit. If you’re looking to get a bit meta, Bad Frankie does a mean Fitz Roy with Maidenii Sweet Vermouth, Overreem Port Cask Whisky and Mister Bitters to make their version of a Rob Roy.
Jaffle-wise, chef Michelle Boyle has got everything from the Classic of cheese with either Vegemite or tomato chutney, to the Shroooom filled with a fine dice of mushrooms cooked with garlic, red wine and thyme served with feta, pressed between slices of wholemeal, to the ever-so-curious Lamington, which holds lashings of hot jam between a chocolate soaked sponge, sprinkled in coconut with a side of cream. It’s the perfect drunk food, all from $5-$10 a piece.
Bad Frankie isn’t just a good cocktail bar, it’s a clever cocktail bar aiming to showcase local spirits you never would have heard of, the way they were meant to be enjoyed. Get yourself a seat at the bar and start creating some nostalgia.