At The Bar with Bertie Wine Bar Owner James Connolly

From working in Michelin-star restaurants to running bars in Perth, it made sense for bartender James Connolly to eventually open his own establishment. Enter Bertie Wine Bar, where cocktails, high-quality British inspired pub fare and 120 wines make the drink list here. Cocktails riff on British staples like a Pimm’s Cup and other gin and tonic top shelf lures, while Dry Riesling is the perfect wine to drink when devouring their rock’n’roll cranked scotch eggs.

James talks to The Write Drop for our At The Bar series.

MY CITY 

Perth, 300 days of sunshine a year, some of the best beaches in the world, amazing wine regions nearby and a vibrant food and drinking scene – what’s not to love.

FAVOURITE FOOD MEMORY 

Sitting on Bruny Island (TAS) looking out over the Great Southern Ocean eating fish and chips, drinking Riesling with my wife.

FAVOURITE BAR  

Any bar with good Guinness and food is something I gravitate towards. My favourite spot, although a bit of a drive, is Fibber McGee’s Irish Pub and Steakhouse in Leederville, WA. Best Guinness in town, friendly service, steaks are next level for the price. Sit outside and watch the world go by.

DRINK THAT DESCRIBES YOU

Ha! What a question, would have to include an ingredient that was not to everyone’s taste. Maybe a Last Word (Gin, lime, Maraschino, Green Chartreuse).

BEST HANGOVER CURE

A can of Coke, Marmite (Vegemite if you must) and eggs on toast, yoghurt of some variety, a brisk walk to the pub and pint of Guinness. Failing that, a bottle of sparkling water and two Panadol.

BEST INTERSTATE BAR 

The Ramblin Rascal Tavern in Sydney. The perfect venue for good times and shenanigans.

FAVOURITE WINE

Being a big Chardonnay fan and a parochial (adopted) West Australian, Leeuwin Art Series Chardonnay is always a special treat, generally no matter the vintage. This wine talks to me on so many levels.

FAVOURITE WINERY 

Leeuwin Estate. Art gallery, amazing restaurant, cracking variety of wines, beautiful grounds. Sitting on the verandah on a summer’s day drinking chardonnay is magic.

NEXT DESTINATION

I really want to go to Vietnam, I hear great things about the food, culture, amazing people and destinations.

What inspired you to open Bertie Wine Bar

I have lived in the area for a number of years and whilst we have some great pubs here, we did not have any high-quality intimate drinking and dining places. Our main ethos is “things that taste good” with a few elements of British/European vibes throughout.

With more than 120 wines on your list, what are some fave right now

A couple I love are from Pemberton in the State’s South West. One is the Rosenthal ‘The Marker’ Chardonnay, a great mix of old school chardonnay with modern nuances. I also love Fervor “Burning Violins” Pinot Noir, which is exceptional value for money and a real crowd pleaser. The Collector ‘Shoreline’ rosé from Canberra districts is a great example of some high-quality winemaking coming out of a lesser-known part of the Australian wine landscape.

When it comes to international wines, I love Valli ‘Bannockburn Vineyard; Pinot Noir 2020. Such a good wine, and stunning value for money. Niepoort White Port is my go-to dessert option and I try to include it in cocktails where possible too.

Three dishes and what to pair them with at Bertie Wine Bar

As we all know, British food can be terrible, but also can be pretty delicious too. We try not to overdo it in the British-ness department but we do have some pretty rock’n’roll scotch eggs on the menu served with a house made brown sauce:

  • Scotch egg with Dry Riesling
  • Steak tartare and horseradish with Chenin Blanc
  • Market fish, mussels, tikka masala with Muscadet
  • Sticky date ice cream sandwich with White port

 

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