We speak with Paige Aubort, of Sydney rum bar du jour, The Lobo Plantation. Paige tells us about how she got into bartending, how she worked out what style of bartender she is, and how The Lobo Plantation is the best damn job she’s ever had.
As told to Sam Bygrave
I was doing a business degree and was making absolutely no money at all, and my sister told me that I should come and work with her as a cocktail waitress at a new venue that had opened up, called Piano Room.
I very, very quickly realised that I wanted to be on that side of the bar, probably much to the distress of my managers I was very pig-headed and stubborn about it and was like, that’s where I want to be, that’s where I want to work.
I had periods where I thought perhaps it comes too easily, I’m having fun too much, and I’m making good money. I was watching all my friends slave away at uni, not being fulfilled, and I thought I wasn’t justified — this couldn’t be a real job because I love it too much.
When I went to work in the cocktail lounge at ivy, working under a guy called Matt Beaumont, who was just incredibly professional and a really great guy, that’s when I started to realise this was an actual job.
I don’t want to tend bars for the rest of my life but within hospitality? Then yes, definitely yes.
I’m quite passionate about women bartenders remaining in service roles as opposed to moving onto brand ambassador roles; I understand it, but there’s a part of me that would like to continue in the service side of things.
I went to Ocean Room in Circular Quay, which was not my style — it was a dispense bar. It also made me realise the type of bartender I didn’t want to be. The reason why I think I’m good at what I do is not because I make drinks really well, not because I retain information and have that lust for knowledge, but is because I love interaction, I love people and knowing how their day is and where they come from.
We served until 8:30 in the morning, [at Dive Bar] before the lockouts. It was amazing. You start anywhere between nine and 10 o’clock at night, then go through until about 9:30 in the morning. It was awesome, and it reiterates why I like being in this industry. It was really, really wild.
This is hands down the best job I’ve ever had. I’d never learnt so much and worked with such amazing people. Yeah I’m entrusted with the keys. I take care of all the really boring stuff that I really don’t find boring at all — wages, staffing, and the floor, messed up ice machines.
That comes from working at Lo-Fi, working with boys who, you go out, they get beers and shots — no one wants to wait and stand around for you to get a Negroni. So I very quickly learned I might hate beer, but I can definitely do shots of rum.
I’ll try everything. I definitely prefer rums that are on the sweeter side, because when I drink rum I tend to have them in boozy straight up
drinks or neat.
The family mentality — that’s it in a nutshell. The other thing I love about the Sydney scene is it’s relatively quite young compared with cities like London and New York, and to be a part of such a pivotal time in the scene, to be there when it’s growing — I’ve always contemplated moving overseas and expanding but to leave at this point, when you’re actually being a part of kind of history, is definitely one of the things I love about Sydney.
Personally I don’t like being told what to do — but to have enforcements and restrictions placed on when and where I can and can’t do certain things, I really don’t like. And we’re trying to be recognised on an international scale, and we’ve got all of this incredible talent, and we can’t grow. We’ve got these guys and girls who’ve got these incredible visions for bars and they can’t do anything with it.
The Mary Welsh
50ml El Dorado 3 Year Old
7.5ml Green Chartreuse
30ml fresh ruby red grapefruit
20ml fresh lime juice
15ml coconut gomme
Shake with ice, and double strain into a wine glass. Garnish with a skewered cherry.
Adapted from a recipe by Paige Aubort.