Meet Thalita Alves, one you should watch in 2016


2015 was a cracker of a year for Thalita Alves. Nominated in the Bartender Magazine Australian Bar Awards for Rookie of the Year, she seemed to make the final round of just about every cocktail competition around.

The late mail is that Thali is moving down to Sydney, but before that she was working at The Gresham in Brisbane.

Interview by Sam Bygrave
Photography by Declan Roache

Tell us a bit about The Gresham and what you do there?
The Gresham has been my home for the last year or so. Whether because of pure luck or faith they had a position going at the time I moved to Brisbane. Soon after I was welcomed as part of this amazing team.


Located in a heritage listed building in the heart of Brisbane’s CBD, we welcome a multitude of diverse consumers. With some good music always playing in the background, at any time of the week you can see along the bar all these different personalities enjoying all sort of drinks. What is great about that is the range of products that we need to have to please such diverse needs: lots of everything and always on rotation, constantly changing. All of this worked as an amazing learning platform. Every stock-take day is like Christmas: new whiskies, beers and wines. Ryan is always researching what is new, what is different. I believe he actually never leaves the venue.

We all do a bit of everything. Everyone collaborates with input on new products, new seasonal cocktail lists as well as cleaning and polishing glasses. Our pretty large back bar selection is pretty awesome to play with.
Why are you a bartender?
I used to be a physical education teacher. I worked in schools, hotels, hosted recreational events, and ran classes in different gyms and dance schools all over Brazil. I absolutely loved my job, talking with people for a living. When I first moved to Australia I wasn’t able to pursue the same career path right away. First I had to learn a new language, then I had to get a proper visa and understand a totally new culture to me. On top of that I also had to save enough money to pay for that visa plus my Masters in Education that would have allowed my 5 years long Brazilian Uni degree to be recognised in this country. My “to do” list was so long and somehow intimidating. I went from teacher to part time cleaner, food runner, food truck driver. It was a challenging time and it took me a daily doses of strong motivation not to give up.

From job to job I eventually got a role as a bartender. Nothing extremely fancy, but I was really enjoying it. Suddenly I found myself enjoying working again. When the time and conditions for me to do my masters came around I realised I didn’t really wanted to follow that path any longer. I had found a fresh new passion. I can still remember the first drink I ever mixed behind the bar almost two years ago and how excited I felt about it. I really can’t imagine myself doing anything different now.
The most important thing I’ve learned about bartending is…
One word answer: Respect. Our diverse industry is made of all different types of venues bartenders and personalities. Luckily we are all very different. How boring it would be otherwise. I believe that respecting and understanding these differences is very important if you want to follow a career in the bar business.
What do you want younger, newer bartenders to understand about working behind the stick?   
Be humble, always. It doesn’t matter how much you think you know, there is always more to learn. When you are humble your eyes capture what is good in other bartenders, everyone is able to show you something new. I really dislike labels and judgmental looks. In such a dynamic profession you need to keep yourself open for new information coming from all sides.
That is very well defined in one of the first bartender rules: “Don’t be a d…”

How is the Brisbane bartending scene? Who have been some influences on your career?
Brisbane has a special place in my heart. The bartending community is very tight up here and I always felt very welcomed. I made good friends and I had many great mentors. I won’t be pointing out names because I could mention well over twenty different legends without thinking too much. Not only we have great professionals, they all shared their experience without hesitating. They are all about the collective growth of the industry, and I am so grateful for it.


Summer Diplomat

40ml Cocchi Americano Rosa
40ml White Port
10ml White Nectarine sous-vide Genever
2 dashes of Marashino
2 dashes of Peychaud Bitters
Stir and strain in fancy cocktail glass
Lemon Twist for garnish

“I have a particular love for fortified and aromatised wines and aperitifs,” said Alves. “A favourite classic of mine is called ‘Diplomat’ that mixes sweet and dry vermouth in equal parts as the hero of the drink. It is a fairly simple and refreshing cocktail and I like serving it with my own little twist.”

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