Opinion: swearing has its time and place (just not at the Bar Awards)


Opinion by Julian Damjano. Julian has had a long hospitality career running successful venues; he counts Hugo’s, Goldfish and more on his resume, and is the general manager at Henry’s Cronulla.

I swear as much as the next guy, but the Bartender Magazine Australian Bar Awards this year was out of control!

Not everything we do has to change the world and I’m not implying that people should stop swearing; a time and a place people, everything has its season.

Our industry has improved in leaps and bounds over the last 20 years; Australian cocktail bartenders have mixed it with the best of them, all over the globe and can count themselves to be as accomplished as any other on the planet.


We wear braces, bowler hats, tartan vests, we sport moustaches harking back to the forefathers of the industry from the 19th century. We use the finest Japanese mixing tools and bear the modern stamp of allegiance, tattoos, yet struggle to match this persona with our actions, even though great bartenders are famous for their banter and wordplay.

What is our legacy? Does it apply to a speech that you have the chance to inspire young bartenders from across the country? What is the take home message in one’s acceptance? Could humility, gratitude, and pride be the overarching sentiments?

One of the most important characteristics of our industry is mise en place, this is so all-encompassing that it should flow into our daily lives. For example, the Bar Awards finalists are released in July, so everyone has two months to prepare a speech if they win an award. Even if one doesn’t win, the speech doesn’t have to go to waste. There’s always next year or another awards event, or better yet, tell your fellow colleagues about how great it is to be part of the team with the same driven focus and attention to detail who have been recognised and appreciated amongst the hundreds of bars by their peers.

Some folks up on stage swore because of nerves mostly, or when they got a little tipsy; there was no malintent, it just seemed gratuitous. I understand where people get comfortable, if we were at an event with the corporate off-premise kind for example, I think everyone would hold a certain level of decorum and curb the swearing.

We are meant to be representing the Voice of Bar Professionals. Look at what has already become an illustrious international competition: Tales of The Cocktail. I can’t imagine anyone winning an award and swearing on stage representing their bar and country.

Remember the class and humility of Tash Conte, a fitting Outstanding Contribution Award recipient this year, now that was a speech from the soul and it shows why so many great bartenders have come out of her bar, Black Pearl. This award should be everyone’s goal — obviously not all can win it but everyone can be inspiring to the people they come in contact with, even if it’s only for thirty seconds. The power of one!

We need to elevate. Think before you speak. There is an amazing community vibe in the Australian hospitality industry and if we can take it to the next level then one day we can have the Bartender Magazine Australian Bar Awards on national TV. It’s not about going mainstream, more about showcasing our craft to the general public and having more gravitas and sway in politics to be able to stop and overturn critical issues such as the lockout laws of Sydney. This could easily lead to Prohibition — stranger things have happened, I swear!

Have you got an opinion you want to get across? Get in touch with us at sam@spantonmedia.com.

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