Early Christmas

Carson Bodie enjoys a mulled wine tour in Freo, visiting Darling Darling and sampling a glass of winter cheer at Jungle Bird. Photo by Byron Evans

AS a fugitive from the Northern Hemisphere, there was a time I simply could not endorse winter without Christmas. 

Last year, I bought myself a pair of little ceramic Santa Claus earrings in the middle of June, which I wore around the house.

I also went to the market across the street – where they know my buying habits and have long abandoned expectations of normalcy – for an injection of clandestine cheer. 

Those days, I’m happy to announce, are gone. 

Freo has something better than Christmas – we’ve got mulled wine, and plenty of it. 

This week, I got together with a group of loved ones and hunted for the perfect glass of winter cheer in the port city.

We began at Clancy’s Fish Pub on Cantonment Street, in my opinion saving the best for first. 

A moustachioed bartender by the name of Louis poured us a generous serve of mulled wine ($9) and explained that Clancy’s has been mixing up the same combo of fruit juice, brandy, red wine and cinnamon sticks for decades.

Why mess with perfection?

“The beauty is in the simplicity,” said Louis, nestling cloves in an orange slice. I couldn’t agree more. 

Next we headed to Jungle Bird on High Street for a creative cuppa ($9).

Owner Ben explained that the original recipe was an import from Suffolk, where he used to run a pub.

More recently, a happy accident with a tub of mulled cider has led to its permanent inclusion in the recipe. 

Here, we lost my friend Paul in the swirl of steaming purple comfort.

He may never call himself a rum drinker again (at least until summer rolls around).

With two pubs down and my friend Mercedes holding out for the perfect mug of spiced wine, we walked into a peanut-allergy nightmare at the nautical-themed Darling Darling on Henry Street, where people devour bowls of free monkey nuts and toss the shells on the floor. 

Thankfully manager Ollie’s flaming red beard was like a beacon in the tiny dimly-lit pub, and we headed to the bar and ordered a mulled wine ($9), which according to Ollie was inspired “by many moons at sea” 

This one packed a spicy punch, leading Mercedes, another exile of the frozen north, to declare – “It’s like Christmas in June!”

by CARSON BODIE

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