How new Melbourne bar, Waterslide, came to be


Waterslide, Melbourne

Address: Southgate Centre, Southbank, Melbourne
Phone: 0425 757 400

Waterslide is a new addition to the nightlife of Southbank in Melbourne, and it enjoys some spectacular views of the city skyline. But the drinks inside are just as spectacular, as is the bar itself. We asked venue manager, Tim Wastell, and Fred Siggins, who consulted on the list, a few questions about what they’re doing there.

You’ve got pretty comprehensive spirits selection on your menu — can you tell us a bit about the way the menu came together, and why you’ve listed what you’ve listed?
Tim Wastell: We started with a list of 1200 potential spirits; lines that I was experienced in working with. Fred and I them curated the list down to something more workable whilst covering as many possible bases as possible, whether it be several varietal expressions from the Agave Karwinskii family of Mezcals to just having a well thought out and balanced list of Scotch Whiskies. Having Fred’s input really made the offering so much better than just doing it myself and pushed us both to listing something that we’re really proud of.

Fred Siggins: We wanted our spirits selection to offer things you wouldn’t normally see in this part of town. The idea wasn’t to be comprehensive so much as engaging. We wanted to make sure the real aficionados could find something they haven’t tried before, or that might be difficult to find, while also offering people the price flexibility to try new things.


The cocktail list has spaces for people to mark up — either “I’ve tried this” and games like, “Dear Tomorrow Self…”. Tell us a bit about the thinking behind that — have you had any good responses that people have left at the bar?
My favourite responses so far seem to come from the ‘Dear tomorrow self’ or ‘Notes’ sections of the menu. How can you go past gems such as ‘Dear tomorrow self, don’t worry, you made good choices. If your hand is sore, high fives are to blame’ and ‘As long as I have my dear, beloved mistress whom I may high five at any point and the wonderful staff/bartenders here to attend to my hydrational needs, I shall be uplifted and have the strength to live another damn day’? We laugh every week when collecting them.


FS: The big idea with the bar menu was to have something interactive, not passive. We want people to engage with what we’re doing, and with what they’re eating and drinking and experiencing, instead of just grabbing a drink then pulling out their phones.

Which cocktails have proved to be the most popular so far?
TW: ‘Princes Court’ with whole robot couped lemon which produces a cocktail with a bitter lemon aspect is a big seller as is the ‘Grace Kelly’ which includes pear and Earl Grey tea.
FS: “The Cure” is really popular. People love vodka and berries, but we’ve given it a twist with ginger and balsamic. “The Bright Idea” also goes pretty well – it’s passionfruit, rum infused with Pho spices and Vietnamese mint. We like our drinks to be approachable but still inventive and people seem to be responding really well.

Could you describe the guests that come to the bar? What walks of life do they come from?
TW: It’s an absolute social mish mash. Bar fly’s, tinder dates, thong wearers, the corporate sector, spirit nerds and beer drinkers. It never ceases to amaze me the variety of guests we serve. We don’t enforce a dress code, we’re a fucking bar for God’s sake, we do however try to expand our guest’s drinking game as much a possible whilst also offering comfortable favourites.

FS: We get an amazing range of folks that come to the bar. There are heaps of offices and apartments very close by, so most people are young professionals, but we’re also right behind the Arts Centre, so we get a lot of the arts crowd, and a fair few tourists as well, especially during big sporting events.

Could you tell us a bit about the bar team you have in place?
TW: Well, taking a job as a Venue manager and finding out that the bar consultant for the project was Fred Siggins (Kodiak Club, The Black Pearl) was pretty fucking exciting. We have just entered stage two of our team build and by that I mean a couple of the opening crew have moved on. Having been in the game for as long as we have though has attracted new staff with incredible pedigrees. Having incredibly experienced people like Scott Reed  (Botanical Hotel, Collin’s Quarter)and Toby Silcock (The Mill, Charlie’s Bar, The Collection) on board full time to help mentor and train the staff while leading by example is just amazing. Our original team was a younger crew with solid bartending skills behind them and those kids are now reaping the benefits of having three other people on site that are all more than capable of doing my job. It’s a fucking dream team and I’m incredibly proud to be able to work with every one of them.

FS: Our original crew was young and keen and most of all they’re just a lovely bunch of people. Every one of us is really dedicated to people having a good time, and we hired people that do that naturally. No grumpy bartenders. No massive egos. It’s a great mix of personalities and in just a couple of months we’ve all become pretty tight. The new injection of experienced staff has brought things up to a whole new level. All that is backed up by the experience Tim and myself bring with us, so there’s room for everybody to learn and build a lasting legacy.

How does Waterslide fit into the surrounding area?
TW: Nicely I think. Southgate now has a more balanced and wider range of variety in drinking if I do say so myself. We’re not in direct completion with other business models but we certainly offer something a little different to the current range of options.

FS: It’s a great place to pop by for a relaxed drink after work if you’re not in the mood to pack in with the happy hour crowds, perfect for a cocktail before or after the theatre, plenty of space for work functions or catch-ups with a group of mates, and spectacular views of the city skyline if you need to impress. Basically, we wanted to offer something to this area that was a little more refined without being exclusive. It’s also a uniquely Melbourne bar. Our inspiration comes from the amazing history of the area and the incredible range of flavours and influences that make the hospitality scene here so vibrant.

How important is food to the venue? Can you describe the thinking behind the food options?
TW: 25% of all guests who come through also choose to also order off of the Bar Snack menu, so very. We’re not reinventing the wheel here but I like to think that our cheese selection is pretty fucking sexy by any standards, whether it’s having a little laugh by offering Blue Castello or getting serious with Smoked offerings.

FS: We’re a bar first and foremost, but we have access to a brilliant chef so of course we wanted to make the most of that. The food really reflects the diverse influences on Melbourne food, but especially Italy. We lean towards light, Mediterranean style snacks with a few fun New World options like our Cuban sandwich.

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