This interview appeared in the September issue of Australian Bartender.
Venue: el Publico
Address: 511 Beaufort St, Highgate, Perth
You might be fooled to think that James Connolly is about the only bartender in Perth sometimes, that is with the amount of times he turns up in Sydney at cocktail competition finals. Save to say, he’s not. However, he is a stand-up bloke and not a bad bartender to boot, so we thought it was only fair to showcase him over a couple of pages in this year’s September issue.
Q+A: What do you drink to impress a lady?
I’m not allowed to impress ladies anymore.
How long have you been bartending?
I worked in a few pubs in the UK when I was younger, but four and a half years properly.
Before you were bartending what were you doing with yourself?
Making drugs…for a pharmaceutical company.
What is your proudest moment behind the bar?
Doing well in comps is always nice, but watching someone you helped train do well in comps is even better.
And most embarrassing?
Knocking over five freshly made Sazerac cocktails on a busy Saturday night.
How do you prepare yourself for success in a cocktail competition?
I spend all day mentally preparing, checking my gear etc. then I get awesome drunk.
Where have you worked previously?
Must Wine Bar, Defectors, the Sentinel and a few shifts at Air Nightclub.
What’s your advice for an aspiring bartender?
Try and take at least one alcohol free day a year.
What’s been your favourite bar to work in?
I love them all.
What’s your favourite bar gadget?
Bar Blade – so versatile.
What’s your favourite city to visit?
Sydney’s always fun.
What’s your favourite movie?
What’s your favourite song?
Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash
What’s your favourite sport?
Test match cricket.
Describe your fantasy bar.
A beach shack, with icy cold beers, a slushie machine, lots of Tequila and Mezcal and Ben Tua as my glassy.
Can you tell us some of your favourite bars to visit?
I always like going to Must, Helvetica for whisky, I really liked Der Raum, and I always end up in Eau de Vie if I’m in Sydney.
What is your favourite product to work with at the moment and why?
I try and put Fernet Branca in everything, I like the challenge.
What do you drink to:
Unwind after a long shift?
The most refreshing beverage on the planet – beer!!!
If you could have a drink with one person (alive or dead) who would it be?
Karl Pilkington (an idiot abroad) such a strange little man.
What was the last book you bought?
Under the volcano by Malcolm Lowry
What cocktail trends are hot at the moment?
Errr Banana Milk??
If you could have a superhuman power what would it be?
Jedi powers would be awesome.
If you were to be something other than a bartender, what would it be and why?
A zoologist, nature fascinates me.
Who’s your hero?
Ian Botham for his cricketing prowess, mullet and drinking skills.
What products do you think will be popular over the coming year?
Tequila is definitely on the way back up and whisky is more popular than ever.
Last drink ever what would it be?
Vintage Champagne – preferably Krug.