What I’ve learned (so far) — Alissa Gabriel


Story by Alissa Gabriel
Alissa Gabriel is the reigning champion of the Australian final of the Bacardi Legacy Global Cocktail Competition, and works at Eau de Vie Sydney.

When I first stepped behind the bar it was New Year’s Eve, almost five years ago in a small pub in Rockhampton. I was thrown into the tiny corner cocktail bar, given a spec sheet with a dozen drinks and spent 12 hours of fumbling around, making 300 of possibly the sweetest, fruitiest drinks you could possibly imagine, I emerged from behind the three feet of bar and was hooked, not just on the art of making cocktails but the ability to influence the outcome of someone’s night.

I bought my first cocktail book so I could better facilitate and educate my guests and from that point onwards I constantly pushed and challenged myself, as well as my customers to try new and exciting things. It was not an easy challenge, with an often blinkered drinking culture, but when I left Rockhampton two years later to move to Brisbane and pursue my career further, I looked back on the transition, of not just myself but my return guests transitioning from Long Islands and Toblerones to Negronis and Martinis.

My journey was far from over, in Brisbane I worked at three different styles of venues, each teaching me to learn, adapt and overcome. Somewhere in those two years the physical and emotional exhaustion got the better of me and I asked myself, ‘what am I doing with my life?’ This pushed me to work even harder.


A trip to New Orleans For Tales Of The Cocktail refreshed my passion and gave me my Nomad Mentality; a way of life, a passion to travel, learn and inspire. A quote I now live by is “A leap of faith is scary, but you wont forget it”. So a month after returning from the U.S. I lined up a job, packed up my hopes, dreams, belongings, and drove to Sydney to start my next big adventure. I now have the privilege of working in one of Australia’s best bars, Eau De Vie, and have an amazing team to challenge and inspire me, this industry is my family and the venue my home.

Five years of experience is not a lot in this industry, but I am now in a unique position where I have to ability to not just influence my guest’s experience, but also my fellow bartenders.

The greatest piece of advice I can give to anyone is: Never stop learning. The second you don’t feel challenged is when you are not learning. Set a goal, work towards it, when you reach that goal set another, never rely on anyone to push you. Self-motivation is harder, but has a more rewarding outcome. Always listen, ask questions and don’t settle if you think it can do or be better.

Ask yourself this: Who are you? What are you trying to achieve? What do I need to do to get there?

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