Introducing: Bedford Soda & Liquor bartender Lorietta Bahr

The Auckland bartender talks about Bedford Soda & Liquor and the benefits of bartending abroad.
As told to Sam Bygrave

Over the last few years I’ve worked across Wellington and Auckland. I learned how to bartend in Wellington — the last place I worked there was Charlie Noble, and then I moved to Auckland and started managing a bar called Matterhorn. Essentially it’s a Wellington institution, which they tried to bring up to Auckland.

Now I’m working at Bedford Soda & Liquor, a pretty esteemed bar in Auckland. It’s kind of like a New York-style feel. Quite casual food – like meatballs. I guess it’s like a neighbourhood bar but we do cocktails really well. We just want to be a friendly, easy place to hang out and have a good drink while you’re there.

I’m a huge fan of vermouth — I like all things like Reverse Manhattan’s, Americano’s but it kind of depends what mood I’m in: if it’s sunny then I’m going to be having a Daiquiri, if it’s cold then a Hot Buttered Rum, so it depends. I’m all about the time and place.

More recently I’ve started travelling, which is really cool, and a lot of it has been around New Zealand. But lately I’ve had the opportunity to go overseas, working with a New Zealand syrups company called Shot, and they have a lot to do with the Asian market so I get to travel to Asia with them.


The last trip was Bali, and I’ve been to Kuala Lumpur — Jakarta was really cool. I got to see the whole bar scene over there. The year before last I got to go to Tales of the Cocktail and did this huge, big bar crawl around San Francisco, New York, all the big cities.

New Zealand is quite small, so we don’t get to see a lot, we’re left out of a lot of things. Especially for New Zealand bartenders, just the amount you learn [when you travel] — you get to see trends first hand, see what a great drink is, and it’s hard to learn that here in New Zealand. So going overseas opens your eyes to how far you can go within hospitality, what the best people are doing and how you can bring it back. It gives you ideas, it inspires you.

I first started bartending when I was 18, but it was kind of on the side — it wasn’t great bartending. The last three years have been where I’ve actually learned to cocktail bartend, and entering competitions and things like that.

For me, I like simple. I like to drink for the moment, and so I’m huge believer in making drinks for the moment. I’m a huge believer in working seasonally — I love what chefs do with that and I think bartenders should do the same. I just want to make simple, delicious drinks that people enjoy and give them an experience.

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