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Just the Tonic: A Gin Tasting Cabaret - Review

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by Fiona Anderson (subscribe)
A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Booze and burlesque is just the tonic
Last night I attended what could be a unique event - a combined gin tasting and cabaret, hosted by the aptly named Sophie deLightful. We last encountered the talented Ms deLightful at The Odditorium, a show she MC'ed at the recent Midsumma Festival. What we took away from that show is that Ms deLightful is not only talented in her own right, she is equally talented in pulling together a group of performers who will entertain, astound and amuse an audience.

So when I heard about Just the Tonic: A Gin Tasting Cabaret, which combined two of my favourite things in the world (ie gin and cabaret) it was an irresistible combination.

Just the Tonic: A Gin Tasting Cabaret - Review
Host of the show and co-producer, Sophie deLightful

It's not the first booze and cabaret event hosted by Sophie. She previously hosted and co-produced Frisky Whisky: Exotica Erotica, with a whisky tasting/cabaret combination. Chatting with other audience members last night, some had attended the previous event as well; it's always a good sign to get repeat business.

With Melbourne's seemingly insatiable love of gin, and the emergence of many boutique distillers, gin seems a logical pairing. So too was the selection of local distiller Patient Wolf to partner for the event, located as they are literally just around the corner from the venue for last night's show, Radio Bar.

For a tasting ticket of around $60, audience members had a welcome drink, four gin tastings, and four amazing cabaret acts - and I think that represented great value.

A word about the venue. Radio Bar is a long narrow venue, with a bar running along one side of the room. At the back, there is a small open area - and that was the performance hub for the show. Most audience members sat at high tables on bar stools, a few had couches. As there was such a small amount of performance space, I wondered what sort of show we were in for. My curiosity was piqued all the more when we were told that several of the acts involved fire, and we needed to stay back as the performers entered.

I needn't have worried, as we had four top-notch acts.

First up was comedian, magician and mime Patrick Collins. Patrick performed most of his act (including eliciting the help of an audience member) with his mouth taped closed. How is this possible, you may ask? Well, I won't give the secret away.

Just the Tonic: A Gin Tasting Cabaret - Review
Archie Arsenic - a larger than life figure

The commanding figure of Archie Arsenic heralded the first of the fiery acts. One couldn't help but be impressed with Archie, described as a 'Fire Eating Gender Bending Drag Freak'.

Just the Tonic: A Gin Tasting Cabaret - Review
Archie Arsenic about to do a little fire eating

After intermission, we were treated to two further acts: burlesque queen, Miss Lana Lunacy, who has just been named Melbourne Burlesque Idol winner for 2019, and the very bubbly Becky Bubble. What Becky can't do with bubbles is probably not worth doing!

Just the Tonic: A Gin Tasting Cabaret - Review
Lana Lunacy - recently crowned Melbourne Burlesque Idol 2019

There was one other 'unofficial' performer, and that was Blake Hall from Patient Wolf. Blake proved that as well as having a great knowledge of the Patient Wolf products, he was not beyond a bit of theatre himself, as he jumped behind the bar to produce a fiery cocktail.

Just the Tonic: A Gin Tasting Cabaret - Review
Blake Hall from Patient Wolf shows he's no slouch behind the bar

Overall, Just the Tonic was a fantastic show and a thoroughly entertaining night out. Highly recommended.

Sophie deLightful hopes to bring Just the Tonic II to Melbourne sooner rather than later, so if this review has tickled your juniper bone, make sure you stay in touch with the Facebook event page for updates. It will probably be a different group of performers next time round, but I feel certain it will nevertheless be an equally entertaining event.

While I loved the show, my one bit of critical feedback is that the lighting in Radio Bar did little to enhance the experience. Light falling behind the performers often threw their faces into silhouette from an audience perspective. If the venue wants to make itself available for performances, it's definitely an area where there could be some improvement.

Image credit

The images in this article were taken by the writer.
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Why? Who wouldn't want to attend a show featuring gin and cabaret?
When: Stay tuned for Just the Tonic II
Where: Stay tuned for future events
Cost: Check future listing for prices. (Around $60 for tasting tickets which includes show.)
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by Fiona Anderson on 07/02/2019
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