We talk to Merivale’s new man and Reematch!!! Beeyatch!!! founder Paul Mant

Paul Mant

Paul Mant, a name most people equate with ridiculously cool London bars — not to mention the Reematch!!! Beeyatch!!! event —  has now relocated to Sydney to work with the Merivale Group, taking over where Mike Enright left off. Australian Bartender took the chance to chat with our country’s most recent English immigrant to talk bars, booze and plans for the future…


What’s the attraction of the bar business for you?

I’ve said this before but without doubt it is enjoying what some unfortunate folks deem to be a glamorous life.


How did you come about the role with Merivale — what does it entail?

It’s a pretty overwhelming job description so I tell myself that its managing a large team of bar managers. I sleep better that way.

Tell me a little about the venues you’ve worked at before…

Two big  ones were Mahiki and Quo Vadis. Mahiki is a tiki styled bottle service nightclub in Mayfair, London. It’s how I got my stripes in the London bar scene and helped me meet a lot of the legends I now call friends over here in Australia. Our bar team was insane and we were often (responsibly of course) smashing out treasure chests and diver’s helmets full of booze to the future king of England. Will and Kate used to love it there. Every day on the walk to work, I would pick up the paper and see my place of work splashed across the back and middle pages. It was a mad, mad time. Eight years on, Mahiki is still a machine with an incredibly high turnover… (you wouldn’t mind being a pound behind the owners, I can tell you).

The other was Quo Vadis in Soho. Quo is the thing I am most proud of so far in my career. Sam and Eddie Hart are two of the nicest people in the business. Here, we put together a stellar team and did things with ice that nobody thought could be done at the time. Clear, hand carved rocks or fingers in every single drink. With everything sitting at a predetermined temperature we could produce amazing martinis in seconds, every time. I got to meet some really cool people there – actors, poets, artists and authors who would ask me about scotch rather than the socialites and it-girls downing apple martinis at Mahiki. We won or got nominated for pretty much everything going; they were some good years. It’s still going strong and it remains my ‘go-to’ whenever I’m in London.

How do you manage the challenge of multiple venues?

There isn’t a bar manager out there who won’t appreciate that when you have that title, you are that but also a plumber, administrator, counselor, loan shark, HR manager. The great thing about this job is that I can focus on exactly that – the job. And when it gets too much there are departments to do what they do best. In short, the structure and scale of the makes it possible to manage.

How do you continually develop your creative ideas?

I’ve never been the most creative of folks in terms of mixology. I do what everyone else does; take the good idea and polish it up making it bigger & brighter. All those “new” ideas like barrel aging, cocktails on tap and fat washing are all references to the most old school of ideas that had their roots saving money or using what was available. People who claim to be pioneers these days get found out pretty quickly thanks to the internet and the new ways in which we exchange ideas.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Old books, people I’ve worked for in the past and the rag-tag band of pirates I call my industry friends.

What excites you about the Sydney bar industry?

My arrival here is effectively my fifth visit since 2006. I hope it doesn’t sound as if I’m speaking out of turn when I say that whilst I loved the city back then I was more impressed by the people in the bars than the bars themselves. Since then there’s been an unbelievable evolution, most notably with the glut of small, owner operated venues that have come about since the Laneways Proposal came into effect…and although that creates competition for me in my new role, competition is good; we’re all feeding from the same pot.

What does it need more of? Less of?

I’ll get back to you on that, give me a chance!

What mistakes have taught you the most important lessons?

Ah, that’s information I only share with my nearest and dearest.

Are there any local or international bar operators that you admire? Why?

It sounds like an obvious one to say Merivale but then I wouldn’t have accepted the job here if I wasn’t in awe of them!

How important are staff in operating a successful business?

As vital as the customer. It’s getting them all reading off the same page that is the biggest challenge.

What advice would you give young bartenders looking to make a career out of bartending?

Set a date that you’ll be the one ordering the drinks rather than making them and work toward it. Don’t look at the bar that you want to work in but the people you’ll be serving and who’ll you’ll be working under.

What are you drinking right now?

I’m at my desk so an assortment of samples of various things for our new site in Manly.

It’s last call at The Bar At The End of the World.What’s your last ever drink? Who’s it with?

It’d be with Gregor de Gruyther and Henry Besant. As with all my favourite bars, the drinks don’t matter; it’s all about the company you keep so I’ll have whatever they’re having; most likely tequila and Jagermeister. .

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.