Industry News

This guy is yesterday’s news.

Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final 2013 - Day 5 - CIROC Party at Ushuaia
World Class 2013 is hours away from producing another World’s Best Bartender, and Australia waits with baited breath to hear if local-boy-done-good Luke Ashton will add the title to the lump sum he picked up for taking out the Antipodean leg of this years contest.

With all this anticipation flooding the internet, I felt it apt to pause for a moment and offer up a few words for a man who’s night can only end in the pangs of bitter disappointment.

Twelve months ago, Tim Philips was samba dancing with abandon as he assumed the title of World’s Best Bartender™ for his own.

Tonight that all comes to an end.

Sources close to Philips acknowledge a life where monthly first class travel, photo-bombing opportunities on Dutch grannies and intimate chats with Angus Winchester (albeit in front of camera and a studio audience) are no longer commonplace will be hard on the young man’s outspoken but impressionable psyche.

Expect to see a small shrine, with book display and honesty box for the fruits of his year (below) appearing at the venue very soon.

The book will be a memorial of the drinks of Tim Philips, hopefully a few puns too

The book will be a memorial of the drinks of Tim Philips, hopefully a few puns too

In all seriousness, you could not find a funnier, more humble guy for this honour and the trappings that come with it. I for one am looking forward to him actually making me a drink at his bar.

Industry News

Industry shock as Bayly renounces hats, tequila; plans to open subzero vodka exeperience

Phil BaylyErstwhile Mexican and Dr Seuss revivalist Phil Bayly shocked the city of Sydney last month by closing the doors on the city’s favourite den of fajitas and iniquity, Cafe Pacifico in Riley St.

Bayly delivered a rambling and at times difficult to follow address to the assembled bearded young men, tattooed young women and jaded industry hacks on the venues final night. Weeping openly, Mr Bayly spoke of his supreme disappointment in the hipster bartending movement and their obsession with appropriating the style of previous generations, decaring hats to have “become mainstream” and alluding to a  shift in his own petasusian leanings, with berets, beanies and potentially viking horned helmets getting a look in.

Sources close to Bayly have him linked with a new venue in Circular Quay’s International Passenger terminal. Billed as the largest subzero vodka experience outside of the United States, it seems like Bayly is once again setting out on a bold journey to educate consumers and build an audience for an authentic spirit.

Anyone who has got this far through this article should know, the story outlined is just as believable as the fact there is no longer a Cafe Pacifico in our lives.

Really looking forward to seeing what is actually next.

Photo honestly stolen from Chic Traveller

Bar, Industry News

You could not have it more wrong.

George Souris, Minister in the O’Farrell Government here in Sydney, has come out swinging at the small bars in the wake of the bashing death in the Cross last week.

I don’t think he could have it more wrong. Sydney’s small bars are fostering a new drinking culture in the city, but I think that anyone who has experienced it would attest that it as extremely positive one.

I don’t normally get into politics here, but any attempt to pin negativity on the great bar culture growing up in this town should be something that anyone that like a good drink, and therefore anyone that reads this blog, should really care about.

Obviously he’d rather be working with big hotels, as evidenced by the chap he appointed to an open position on the Casino, Liquor and Gaming Control Authority, last year. Brian Ross was heading the Hotels Association (a lobbying group that advocates for large venue owners) before taking up a vacant spot on the CLAGCA that was open for a legal representative.

It’s all quite strange really.

Maybe Mr Souris should stop hanging out in the pokie parlours, head to one of the great small bars that are dotted right across Sydney and try a decent drink for once.

Industry News, Training, Wine

Know your bubbles.

In 2010, Champagne imports to Australia totalled 3,687,140 making Australia the 9th largest export market for Champagne.  Recent figures also show that per capita of Champagne consumption is one bottle for every seven people, placing Australia in the top five countries for Champagne consumption in the world.

I know I drank more than average so that must mean that many of you just aren’t drinking your fair share. One way to rectify that, and maybe learn something along the way, would be indulge yourself in a Champagne Masterclass.

The Champagne Bureau will mark the beginning of Spring with a series of Champagne master classes across Australia. The classes will provide a forum to taste and discuss a selection of non-vintage, vintage and other unique styles of Champagne wines. All for only $60.

Classes will be taken by winners of the Vin de Champagne Award. Organised every second year by the Champagne Bureau, the Vin de Champagne Award seeks to find Champagne ambassadors who will share their knowledge and encourage the enjoyment and appreciation of Champagne in Australia.

In Australia, The Champagne Bureau represents the Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne (CIVC). The Bureau’s main role is to educate trade and consumers on Champagne wines, along with promoting and protecting the world-famous Champagne appellation.


Monday 22nd August 2011
The Hilton Hotel 488 George St Sydney, Level Two The State Room
TIME: 6.00 – 7.30PM
PRESENTERS: Huon Hooke and Greg Plowes


Monday 29th August
Sofitel Melbourne, 25 Collins St Melbourne, La Trobe Ballroom
TIME: 6.00 – 7.30PM
PRESENTERS: Kate McIntyre MW and Martin Williams MW


Tuesday 30th August
Sofitel Brisbane Central, 249 Turbot Street Brisbane
TIME: 6.00 – 7.30PM
PRESENTERS: Prof. Tim Sullivan and Martin McAdam


Wednesday 31st August
The Apothecary, 118 Hindley St Adelaide
TIME: 5.30 – 7.00PM
Presenters: James Smith, Jane Bromley and Dr. Patrick Iland


Friday 2nd September
Frasers, Frasers Ave Kings Park West Perth
TIME: 6.00 – 7.30PM
Presenters: Lexie Thompson and Steven Leslie


T: (02) 9555 8891  F: (02) 9555 8959

Industry News

Philip Duff – Autocue Comic Genius

Philip Duff, of Door 74 and much vaunted speaking fame, has a real talent for producing these hilarious video gems.

The off duty bartender is very much worth visiting his channel for as well.

Oh, and this is NSFW, in case you haven’t started watching it without the sound turned down already.

Oh, and he’s coming to barshow too.

Industry News, Spirit

Stolen Rum – soon to be available everywhere

Two weeks late to the party on this one, but the lads at Stolen Rum have signed a deal with Beam Global to get their award winning products around the world country (sorry, jumped the gun, the deal is only for NZ for now…).

Australians should be keeping an eye out in Melbourne this week for the boys from Stolen, they’ll be visiting the bars and getting to know some folk as they look to get things started with NZ’s closest cousins.

Nice work boys, great to see quality booze brands coming out of the South Pacific.

Awards, Competitions, Industry News, Legends of Bartending

Bar Week Cometh.

Like Bartender Christmas, it rolls round once a year. Sydney town is inundated with Tom Cruise wannabees, full of dreams and staring wide eyed at the big city. Well, not really, but it’s a nice thought.

Festivities kicked off yesterday with the Bartender’s Brunch at Cafe Pacifico and the Bacardi Daiquiri Party at the marble bar at the Hilton.

Those of you who aren’t working can head down to the Argyle Hotel in the Rocks for the Bartender of the Year competition. Things kick off at half ten and run pretty much all day.

Later tonight the Coney Island Bartender Bumfight will pit bar teams from around the country against each other as they turn out classics without the help of a recipe. It’s on at Victoria Room and round one will get underway at 8.30pm.

Tuesday promises to be a little quieter, probably a good day to visit the Barshow and then think about the Whisky & Punch Bartender Olympics, starting at 6.30pm down at the Argyle.

Wednesday is all about the Bar Awards dinner at the Hilton. Winners, Losers & piles of intrigue (or at least debauchery.) Official after party is at Goldfish in the Cross, or you can go renegade at the Flinder’s Hotel for the unofficial one.

It’s going to be a big week.

Bottle Shop, Industry News

Augment This!

42 Below have taken Augmented reality to point of sale in the New Zealand market. Their Fatboy kiosk allows potential imbibers of the world’s most awarded vodka to interact, learn about the product and how to use it.

Yes. This is an unashamed gimmick but remember, they’re selling vodka, a spirit that is 99% style and 1%substance. What I love about it is they’ve found a way to take a new piece of technology and move it close to the point where people make a purchase decision. I am sure that it will suck people in like a honeytrap does bees.

Nice work!

Competitions, Industry News

This just in: ‘Best’ is a fluid concept right now.

I’m always a little suspicious of awards tastings. Spirits taken naked, mapped to a perfect category ideal, scored out of a hundred and mercilessly spat back into a bucket, spent, wasted.

The process to me has always seemed to ignore the personalities that truly wonderful spirits demonstrate. The quiet ones that you coax out gently; The complex ones that change completely depending whose company they are in; the strong ones whose base you can build up into something massive.

I was quite interested then, in the recent Ultimate Cocktail Challenge that pitted products against each other in the same drinks. Gins performed in the Aviation, the Extra Dry Martini, G&T, Negroni and Tom Collins. This seems like a much better way to sort things out. I can’t really fault their choice of judges either. A DeGroff, a Meehan, a Wondrich and presumably a Regan taking the photo.

Tanq 10 in the Aviation, and the one I had at Eau De Vie on Friday was rather fine. Their recipe, like mine and the UCC does not include any Violets. Tanq Dry, the Extra Dry. A Plymouth & Tonic if you please. Tanq Dry again in the Negroni and once more with Tom Collins.

Full results are available here. You’ll also find all the recipes, methods and minutiae you could possibly require.

Industry News

Kicking Ass in the Kingdom of NO.

Justine Troy and Geoff Ross have written a book. That’s them standing either side of me in the understated frame above. The marital coupling behind New Zealand’s wonder brand, 42 Below, decided that putting pen to paper was a way to both provide the team that was a part of the brands success a nostalgic nod and a way to flick the big finger to a few of the people who didn’t jump on board as part of the team.

I was lucky enough to be in Shanghai at the same time 42 was looking at coming in, my company, ConfuciusSays, got to be a part of the fantastic journey. We went crazy with it, building and intriguing a family of Chinese and Expats that followed the brand and wracking our brains trying to translate the advertising copy into Chinese characters, without ending up in Chinese prison.

Anyone familiar with the brand pre-Bacardi will give a wry smile at the design, the words and the guest appearances of many of the favourite sons and daughters of the brand. The words from Daryl and Jacob were highlights in my mind.

The book does a great job of capturing the very things that made 42 a global brand. It was not a savvy marketing plan or a favourable agreement on distribution hammered out around the table. It wasn’t a business plan or a cute viral video. Those things were all a part of it, they were all important but the thing that made a difference was a culture of passion. Finding people who believed in the brand and having them take it further than anyone believed possible.

It’s also a story of the owners having belief. Believing that it could be done, finding cash and partners to do it. This is where that big finger is waved at the banks and investment community in New Zealand. I agree, we don’t fund creativity nearly enough in NZ, the investment crowd favours soundly mediocre over possibly amazing. I am part of the choir and I have been converted. I do wonder if the unconverted congregation of New Zealand and the investment fraternity will give a flying fuck what our multi-millionaire preacher has to say. It’s probably why he started his own investment group.

The best of the legends are in there, The container sent to Azerbaijan, James Dale in New York. It was the legends and the chance to be a part of one that made it such a great place to work. I love the brand, I love the man, I love the family of people who were (and in some cases, still are) involved. I can’t wait to get a copy of this book, I’m going to treasure it.

You can click on the cover above to be whipped via the internets to Wheeler Books, to pre-order you very own copy.

Advertising, Industry News

And now, for something a little different

Bacardi have had a long history of producing advertising that appeals to a mass market. From their days in the fold of David Ogilvy until the more recent muddling the shit out of the Mojito in Miami, the direction has always been more about the consumer than the craft.

These, then, represent a pretty substantial step away (or towards, depending on where you sit) from the light. With slick, beautiful drinks being presented in modern bar environments. I’ve also heard tell of a third one featuring a Brit making a Mojito for the mystery guest. I’ll keep my ears to the ground for that one.

These three ads cover the main types of great cocktail experiences that are talked about currently. The Samurai could be in any standing bar in Tokyo, or indeed much of Japan, his holds, pours and cuts exemplify the Japanese style. I could only really fault the eye contact and the lack of a double strain. The Hummingbird is a very Miami style setting, and while I’m sure some will fault her for tasting the drink openly, behind her bar, I think it works. The third movie, is meant to be set in a more intimate bar where cocktails are worked out of the ether using new combinations and amazing ingredients. Think Jim Meehan in PDT, the boys at Milk & Honey or Sydney’s Eau de Vie.

I’d love to think that this was part of some larger effort, where true originals are going to picked out from around the world and invited to the private Bacardi Island for the most amazing contest the world has ever seen. I’m happy to put my hand up to be the mysterious stranger, just in case Facundo Bacardi or Seamus McBride find this at the end of a Google Alert.

Travelling the world, handing out golden (well, red and black) tickets sounds like my kind of gig.

Industry News

UPDATED: The end of something special.

jumpUnconfirmed report that all the most of the staff at 42BELOW got their marching orders today and that the brand will be rolled into Bacardi Global Brands. The brand team stays but its going to be tough to keep some heart in that big space with only four people.

It was always a danger when the brand was purchased by the Global giant, and after the corporate management failed to either continue the culture of the brand pre-buyout or to activate any new marketing on a global level, this has had a bit of an inevitability about it.

I hope the brand survives. I’m a passionate supporter after my 4 years working with 42 in China and North Asia.

My thoughts go out to the core of true believers that were still slogging it out in the NZ HQ, they’d been there from the start and had a belief most brands can only dream of.

Kia Kaha brothers, you are all fantastic people.