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A History of Australian Bars and Bartenders

During the Bacardi Global Legacy Cocktail Competition in Sydney, Australia, several speakers were brought in (including me!) to talk to the 34 competing bartenders on various subjects. I'm writing up a couple of them here. 

AustMy favorite seminar (next to mine, of course!) was a talk on the History of Australian Bartending, lead by Australian bartenders Fred Siggins and Lee Potter Cavanaugh. Here are some notes from the talk.

Olden Days

  • Rum was used as currency in Australia in the olden days
  • 1808 Sydney had a "rum revolution"
  • One of the main hospitals was built on rum money in 1811 and is known as the Sydney Rum Hospital
  • 1851 There was a Gold Rush near Victoria – and the money brought fine wines into the country
  • 1851 James Harrison's Ice Making Machine was invented in Australia
  • After industrialization, it became a lager beer country
  • 1970s cheap industrial wine market boom “We found a way to make wine unclassy”

Early Days

  • Eddy Dorado Tirado – 1950s famous bartender. Wrote a few cocktail books. Set up the Australian Bartenders Guild.
  • Flair used to be the name of the game for bartending up through the 2000s
  • The 2000 Olympics helped change the hospitality game.  A lot of British bartenders came into town.

Modern Bar History and Australia's Important Bartenders

The dates below aren't necessarily when the bar was opened, but the year of its greatest influence according to the speakers. 

  • 2000 Hemmesphere with Julian Serna was the top bar/club.  Fancy, clubby.
  • 2001 Melbourne. Ginger, with Alex Ross (a relative of Sam Ross). More casual scene.
  • 2002 Luxe Bar Perth with Jared Plummer. Fresh fruit.
  • 2003 The Bowery, Brisbane. With Barry Chalmers. Pre-prohibition/NY style classic cocktail bar.
  • 2004 Gin Palace Melbourne with Vernon Chalker.  One of the “laneway” back-alley bars. This helped define that trend. Perfectionism of the bar program. Martini bar.
  • 2005 Bayswater Brasserie, Sydney with Naren Young. He was very influential bartender.
  • 2006 Der Raum, Melbourne with Matt Bax. Less of a service-specialty bar, but the interaction was with the cocktail itself.
  • 2007 Sweatshop, Melbourne with Jason Williams. The opposite. Fun, interactive, fast. Also the inception of the Melbourne hipster bartender. Ice program.
  • 2008 1806, Melbourne with Sebastian Reaburn. Menu with cocktails from every era. Smart, education focused.
  • 2009 Black Pearl, Melbourne with Tash Conte. The importance of hospitality.
  • 2010 Eau de Vie, Sydney with Sven Almenning. Brought the word ‘speakeasy’ to the masses. Superstar bartenders. Everything had its own serve, fancy drinks somewhat molecular, but done fast, friendly, and “slick”.
  • 2011 Shady Pines, Sydney with Anton Forte and Jason Scott. Americana whisky bar. Introducing lots of people to cocktails. Whisky with apple juice made to order. Not sophisticated cocktails. Took the fancy off the menu. Fun.
  • 2012 The Everleigh, Melbourne. With Michael Madrusan. Classic cocktails, Milk & Honey style. All classics. Beautiful, fancy bar.
  • 2013 Bulletin Place, Sydney with Tim Philips. Seasonal, don’t use limes if they’re not in season. Butcher paper menu that changes daily.
  • 2014 Hello Sailor, Sydney with Luke Redington. Fun party bar. You always end up there.
  • 2015? Archie Rose Distilling with Will Edwards. Distillery with a cocktail bar, whisky focus. 



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