Meet Ella Rhodes, from Brisbane’s The Gresham


Ella Rhodes is one of Brisbane’s up and coming bartenders; she’s had some success making it through to the final rounds of cocktail comps this year, and has a spot on the bar at the Bar of the Year, The Gresham, alongside a pretty impressive roster of talent. Here, she tells us how she got behind the bar and why she likes the Brisbane scene.

As told to Sam Bygrave

I started in a pub. I started when I first turned 18 in a pub. It was the Morrison Hotel, The Naked Whisky Bar — they opened this whisky bar that had heaps and heaps of whisky from all over the world, and I sort of got into that.

It excited me — I’m an art student, I went to an arts high school and then I studied arts at uni, so it was another way of me being creative. At the time I was at uni, and working part time and was enjoying bartending so much more — and then I was learning more about whisky and decided I loved it.


I started going to different bars, and going to Cobbler a lot — and I was amazed at everything they did. I was used to pouring with plastic nip pourers, and I was like — I want to do that.

Through those Cobbler boys I got introduced to Pez [Collier], and I started going to Lychee as well, and from that got a job at Lychee and bartending properly.

The boys that work here [at The Gresham], they all have their own set of talents and when they asked me to work here I couldn’t say no. It was awesome to find a bar team that was so solid, you know, everyone has done pretty well for themselves and they offer different aspects which help me.

It’s a bar that’s not wanky, and is straight to the point; it’s like, we’re all expected to know everything, but we don’t have to show that off. I think that’s pretty cool.

I haven’t been to the Melbourne and Sydney scenes much, but I think in general, [in Brisbane] we’re a lot more chilled out, and a lot closer as well. In Brisbane, everyone will know everyone.

It’s good as well because if I ever need any help with anything, I can go to so many bars and it’s never turned away, there’s never any attitude.

I struggle to sit down and focus behind a computer — I need to be out and talking to people, it’s a blessing and a curse.

Comps are good to get your name out there. I like them because I get to meet people — I had never been to Sydney or Melbourne prior to competing, so it’s like this almost glamorous lifestyle where you get put up in this hotel and meet all these awesome bartenders. That’s a really cool aspect of it.

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