At The Bar with Studio Amaro’s Simon Blacher

At The Bar with Simon Blacher, owner of the soon to open Studio Amaro.

A basement bar; situated below a soon-to-open new Italian restaurant is the latest to join the bustling end of Chapel Street, Windsor. Studio Amaro leans on a ‘70s Italo-disco mood with a retro design aesthetic that’s been delivered by interior designer Wendy Bergman who points to the hallmarks of the flamboyant era – think corduroy booths and recycled timber floors. When it comes to drinks, a nod to the halcyon days of the past finds its purposeful place on the drink list, making us crave a decade that is no longer, but with a modernist reboot for a curious palette. Whether it’s an aperitivo, a cocktail or a bar snack you’re after – you’ll find the cosy nook you didn’t know you needed in your life when they open the doors 1st September.

Why Melbourne

I love Melbourne for its multiculturalism and everything that it brings with it. There are so many different subcultures that have made their home in Melbourne, and it allows us to explore different cultures without having to leave the city. I think the culture around live entertainment makes Melbourne a special place. As someone in the hospitality industry, the F&B scene in the city is obviously really important and I love how there are so many pockets of authenticity where people from all over the world have settled and the food scene that has come from it. It’s not something that you can create by design and its inherent to how Melbourne has been and continues to be shaped.

Favourite Food Memory

Thay-Thay-Two on Victoria Street in Richmond. Since I was about three or four years old, we visited every week as a family. It’s the first place that put Vietnamese cuisine on my radar and sparked my love for Vietnamese and Asian food. I vividly remember how surprised all the staff were at how much I could eat – ordering an extra-large soup – best believe I finished it.

Best Bar Memory

The first has to be Mink Bar in St Kilda – sadly no longer – but that place was an institution. It really set the tone for bars and felt like a cocktail club. It managed to balance this super unique act of being half way between a lounge bar and a club. You could dance if you wanted to, but you didn’t have to, and the drinks and music were just really good. The second is Romeo Lane, a craft cocktail bar in the CBD. They used to have a drink called the Bruno – a clarified espresso martini. I don’t usually drink espresso martinis but theirs was magic.

Drink of Choice

Now this is just an impossible question – you crave a different drink for every mood, don’t you? Sometimes a cold beer in a pub is the drink of choice and sometimes a martini somewhere fancy. I’m the type of person who likes good things, done well, in the right environment, whether that’s a beer, a cocktail or glass of wine.  Although, if the most underrated bar is in Melbourne, is Mesa Verde. It’s a Mexican bar and restaurant above Cookie – doing great tequila and great food things.

Best Hangover Cure

Fernet Branca, followed by a Bahn Mi.

Favourite Australian Bar

Cantina OK! in Sydney. It’s a tiny bar set in a garage that holds four people. Excellent craft mezcal based cocktails and the staff are engaging as anyone I’ve come across in the industry.

Favourite Destination Abroad

Ho Chi Min. It’s a city that has the youngest population per capita in the world and is thriving 24/7. It’s a place where you can go from eating noodles on the street to sipping cocktails in a hip bar to drinking in the sky. It’s growing rapidly; Influenced by western culture but not driven by it. In short, it’s affordable and delicious.

A Drink That Describes You

Negroni, mostly bitter with a touch sweet.

Favourite Wine You’re Drinking Now

My favourite wine had to be Soave. It’s been a favourite for quite a while now because it’s got enough layers so that you can pair it with all kinds of food. It’s fresh, citrusy, and has enough acidity. I’m not a huge red meat eater and Soave marries well with all, whether that’s fish, chicken, vegetable, it’s so versatile and like a good chardonnay, it can hold its own with pasta and spice too.  It’s the perfect halfway between a Riesling and chardonnay.

A Winery We Need To Know About

Fin Wines in the Yarra Valley. They’re a wine producer not a grower and collect wines from the area and so many interesting varietals from all over. Their wines are very palatable and the team are driven, young, super enthusiastic and fun.

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