A Talk with Matthew Bax, Australian Artist & Bar Owner
Mixologist from Melbourne

Text: Florencia Serrot

Photography: Jan Averwerser

It’s welcoming staff are captained by bar owner Matthew Bax, a Sydney born mixologist and artist, who has made Gamsei into one of our favourite places in the city. After sampling a few of his creations, we sat down for a chat. A place like this is something that will change your perception of what a cocktail can be for your whole life. Even when Gamsei closed and Mathew moved back to Melbourne to open new Bars , we will never, ever forget our experience of having drinks made by him in an enviroment so special as Gamsei was. It was a perfect combination of Art and Cocktails. It was a bit as if München suddenly made it to the best of the "top bars " of the world sort of things with a concept that was young and amazing. We miss you in München Gamsei.


Tell us a bit of your story. An auzzie from Melbourne living in MUC. What made you leave the ocean for the Mountains?

Love. My partner is from Munich and my second great love is Bayern. Munich is also where I first came to love cocktails, I lived here briefly 14 years ago and discovered classic drinking at places like Schumanns. It was always a bucket list item to open a bar here.

You`re an artist as well as a mixologist and gastronomist. How did you get involved with the cocktail world?

I left accounting for the bar world to give me more flexibility with my schedule and more studio time.

I guess the bar part took over. Tell us about your sustainable plan for Gamsei. What does it involve?

My motivation is to deliver better tasting, more interesting drinks. I’m not running a campaign here. We try to use as much wild produce as possible in the menu and when we can’t source it ourselves we turn to local artisan famers. The wild is naturally more interesting as nobody in the bar world has attempted this before (or at least not to my knowledge). The result is flavors that one cannot purchase in a store. I like to think of our concept as kind of cocktail appellation.


Our rules and principles mean better tasting raw produce .
Smaller producers farming responsibly with passion and not just chasing a profit.

It means sourcing products without using air mile or long distance freight.

It’s about supporting locals and celebrating the fact we don’t need to look beyond a few hundred km’s to source an entire menu.


One of the consequences of this is that there are no lemon cocktails on the menu.


Instead there are  vinegars that you mix with some herbs you find in the mountains and use as substitute for the citrics…

Verjus and house vinegar and house kombucha are our go-to sour sauces but we also use wild wood sorrel, unripe green apples and other fruits.



Tell us a bit about the uniforms of your staff, the pottery and the beautiful panelling in the bar.

The aprons were based on a design by my sister Jessica ( a budding Fashion designer) and local leather expert Caroline Antonetty.

The pottery was a collaboration between myself and Keramik-Künstlerin Franziska Schmid-Burgk. Credit for the  design and expertise is all hers (I just helped with the shape).
The interior design is the work of Fabian Wagner & Andreas Kreft. They made my rough sketchs for Gamsei a reality. Florian Schwer was the mastermind behind all the lovely Oak.




I guess that the fact that you change the menu change every two weeks keeps you very eager to find and experiment all the time with new ideas. Tell us a bit about this. When do you find time? Do you make them on your own or in collaboration with your

I don’t sleep much. The creative work is nothing new: I have been working on the menu for the past 2 years prior to opening but most of this time was spent sourcing products and learning more about local wild plants etc.

In truth the menu has been changing several times a week which is an enormous creative and production pressure. I’m experimenting the entire time, often during service in the laboratory hidden behind Gamsei’s guestroom. I’d like to be behind the bar more, but right now the creative work for the menu is taking priority. The menu is actually run as a dictatorship right now but hopefully next year the guys will have more of an input. Der Raum [a bar that Matt had in Melbourne] had similar pressure so I’m used to it.




Tell us about the other bars you run around the world, why are they special?

Bar Americano in Melbourne, is my ode to classic bars. Its tiny, standing room for 12 only. The menu is neat in that its based on one classic cocktail book each year. It reads exactly like an excerpt from the book. Right now we are using “Roberts 1922: Cocktails : How to Mix Them” as our muse.
Bar Economico opens next month at the old Der Raum site. I’m describing it as a Rum Brothel. Really easy going, kind of a ghetto bar with great drinks (and very generous pricing). Its going to be loads of fun. I closed Der Raum last December after 11 years. Its was/is probably the most famous bar in Australia if awards and press are to believed. It ranked most of its life in the world top 10. It was as high as number one on several occasions. It will be remembered for its innovation and modern techniques. It was certainly a bar cut from a different cloth to the rest.



Turning to your suppliers, how do you find them? There are a lot of schnapps that you use that are like really traditional Bavarian digestives (pear, marillien).  What are your favorite local products?

I spent two years here prior to opening to source products. Timon (one of my barstaff) has also been a great help locating small brands and unusual products.


So what are your favourites?

Oh that’s a hard question. Staehle Muehle, Reisetbauer, Forschungsbrauerei, Weingut Himmel, Raumland and Weingut Ziereisen probably.

The guys on your team are all also a bit nomadic and international. How did you meet them?

All the guys contacted me when they learned of my plans here in Munich. Sourcing really flash staff has been actually very simple. Johannes is from near Basel, he is a sommelier by trade and wanted to learn cocktails for a year. He was with Gordon Ramsey & Jason Atherton in London for  5 years. We are really lucky to have someone so gifted within our team.
Timon is from Freiburg but has been living/studying  in Munich a while. He recently returned from a stint with Pegu Club (NYC). Of the new guys Martin is from Wien and Kim is from New Zealand ( although he spent his youth growing up here in Bavaria).


Tell us about the cocktail you have prepared for us- in the photo session with Jan- with the pear!

Its called Pyrus Communis. It’s the name of the pear used in the drink.  It’s really just a fancy way to showcase Han Reisetbauer’s remarkable Pear Brand. We shock freeze a slice of the same pear in Liquid Nitrogen to begin with. The cocktail is simply a good measure of Reistebauer Pyrus Communis Brand. We then drop in the frozen pear and as it thaws it chills the drink and releases a cloud of amazing aroma. Reisetbauer’s Brand are so amazing on the nose.
We then make the drink safe to drink (liquid nitrogen chilled fruit is rather cold) with fresh cold pressed pear (of the same variety, pressed with a rather special herb juice extractor). It’s a very simple drink which is about showcasing one pure flavour.

Do you have any Favorite spots in Munich with a contemporary sustainability touch that we should know about?

Oh sustainable I’m not sure. But I find Munich locals in general are very environmentally conscious. It would be nice to see it flow more into gastro venues.  I can tell you where I like drinking/ eating though.


Pacific Times has great food and classic cocktails), Zephyr is always fun with awesome drinks. Rice is the best Vietnamese in Munich and Walter & Benjamin is our favourite wine shop/bar.  For classy cocktails and good service, Schumann’s and Goldene Bar. Then for coffee it’s definitely Bald Neu. Gallery wise I’d go for  Andreas Grimm.

How has the city reacted to Gamsei?

With wild curiosity and excitement. I’m surprised how quickly they have taken to our concept. Especially since we must charge a little more than normal given the work behind our menu and the quality of products we use.

Any upcoming plans? Maybe an art exhibition where we can see both sides of your creativity together? That would be amazing!

I have a show booked for November but its with Anna Pappas Gallery in Melbourne. When I get some free time, I’ll have to sort out a local gallery!

Thanks so much for your time Matt!