It’s time to celebrate one of Australia’s truly iconic bars, as Fitzroy’s Black Pearl prepares to turn 21, with “a party for the ages” befitting this venue that has served up so many cocktails and good times.

Owner Tash Conte has guided this local, family bar for its 21 years and is welcoming people to a special party, including special guest Iain MacPherson, founder of Edinburgh’s Panda & Sons, to celebrate Black Pearl’s coming of age.

“There is too much to say after 21 years, I can’t wait to see everyone’s face and to celebrate, thanks for all your love and support possums,” said Tash.

Black Pearl’s 21st party kicks off at 8pm on Sunday, 13 August with a special bar takeover by Iain that will be open to the public as Tash and the team say thanks to the bar’s loyal customers. Iain will be mixing up the wild and wonderful modern cocktails that have gained him international acclaim, and The Black Pearl team will be bringing its signature service and love of a good time with disco balls and panda ears for all.

That team was named Bar Team of the Year at the 2022 Australian Liquor Industry Awards, the latest in a long-line of national and international awards that Black Pearl has earned over its 21 years. As well as its many ALIAs, Tash was named Bar Manager of the Year last year as well, Black Pearl won Best International Bar Team at the 2015 Spirited Awards and reached number seven on the World’s 50 Best Bar list in 2013. The Black Pearl has also launched the careers of countless globally recognised bar professionals, with alumni including Johnny Walker Global Brand Ambassador Tim Phillips-Johannson, Speakeasy Group co-owner Greg Sanderson, and the owners of Melbourne’s Caretaker’s Cottage.

It has also proved to be a hugely popular bar for many working in this wonderful industry, Charlie Ainsbury, Senior bar consultant, Proof Creative, summed up many people’s feelings, saying: “It’s the Black Pearl. No matter what I write from here, it will never do justice to what it’s become and what it means to me and so many other people around the world.

“I know these posts can get emotional but with a bar like this, it can only be. My first drink here was most likely made by Robb Sloan or Tim Philips… definitely not by Cristiano Beretta. Maybe it was made by the bar back, Chris Hysted-Adams at the time. Whoever it was and whatever it was, it hit the spot. Along with the shots of warm gin and hot sausage rolls.

“I know Tash would tell me off for it, but I really miss the old bar. The second-hand espresso machine, the Bain Marie ice well, the old VB bottles they used to decant their liqueurs to make a bit more space on the back bar…

“It was never meant to be the cocktail juggernaut it became, but the team made that old bar work. I wish I worked there. But simply being a guest in that venue is enough to feel like part of the family and after nearly two decades of operation, they’ve amassed a large one.”

Regal Rogue is sponsoring the 21st Party, and Founder Mark Ward said: “After a challenging period during the pandemic, it’s an honour to support the Australian institution that is Black Pearl by heading home with a crazy Panda in tow to toast this fantastic milestone.”

Panda & Sons is one of the UK’s most innovative cocktail destinations and Iain MacPherson is currently listed among the top 50 most influential bar personalities in the world and recently crowned innovator of the year by CLASS magazine.

Known for creating mind-bending mixology techniques like “Switching” (replacing the water content of spirits with other liquids) and “Sous Pression” (ultra low temperature freeze infusion). As well as bringing these incredible techniques to the bar for Black Pearl’s 21st birthday party, Iain will also be hosting a special cocktail masterclass on Monday, 14 August to reveal his secret recipes in Melbourne for the first time. Limited tickets to the masterclass can be purchased here:

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *