by David Spanton
Publisher, Australian Bartender
The year was 1999. I was having a meeting with Di Parish at Jim Beam out at their offices in Gordon. I remember sitting there trying to explain why a magazine for bartenders was a good idea even though at that time they were not considered real decision makers at a venue. I had been bartending around Sydney for five years and at that stage I was working at the popular Fringe Bar on Oxford Street (now the Unicorn Hotel). I dropped the name of this popular bar and it seemed to help get me in the door. There I was — all of 23 years old — and being told by the very experienced Di Parish that I would get eaten alive If I tried to take on the established trade publishers. She said she would be surprised if I made it 12 months. In all honesty, I found Di terrifying at this meeting. She ruled the roost over at Beam and didn’t suffer fools lightly. Despite her warnings, she seemed intrigued by this long-haired, big-leather-jacket-wearing, fast-talking young punk in front of her. To her credit (and luckily for me) she saw how enthusiastic I was and she booked an ad. She was my first client and also one of my most valuable clients and supporters for many years. I also remember in that meeting I said something along the lines that in 20 years there was no way I would still be publishing this magazine.
Over 40 is old, right? And I had plans to retire and play a lot of golf.
Well, fast forward to 200 issues and almost 20 years and here I am. I’m still hitting up drinks companies each month for support and working with my team to create the best goddamn trade magazine in the world. This is what I am most proud of. To be able to say honestly to myself that we have been the leading bar magazine in Australia for almost 20 years and to never have missed a month or an edition is amazing. The real reason why this is even possible is simply because of the people who have worked on the magazine over the years. I am extremely grateful for the amazing and talented people that have worked for us over the years. I want to thank past editors like Naren Young, Amy Spanton, Sven Almenning, Simon McGoram, and of course our current and long-time editor Mr Sam Bygrave, who works tirelessly on this mag each month. All our editors have put their stamp on Bartender. Their passion has helped push Bartender magazine to greater heights and made it an invaluable tool of education for our bartender community. Also, Matt Fox who for many years was our gun sales manager plus Mr Randy Watson who I have known for all 20 years and is the greatest designer I have ever seen. His design vision with Australian Bartender is key to our success.
I can’t stress enough how important Amy has been over the many years as without her support and hard work at the business through the good and bad times I might have pulled up stumps many years ago. I’m sure without meeting her I would have stuffed things up many years ago and never made it to the 100th issue let alone 200th issue, so thank you my beautiful wife for being the most amazing friend and business partner.
People ask me what are some of my favourite memories from doing the magazine and I must say this is a hard question to answer simply because so much goddamn stuff has been published! I guess what I enjoy is more the outcome of what we do. We have watched the profession of bartending go from being a side ‘job’ to a ‘career’. I believe Australian Bartender and its events have played a small but important role in this. Seeing the standard of education skyrocket within the trade due to bartenders having a tool to read and learn from.
I also need to thank all the amazing suppliers who support us and advertise within our magazine each month as without your support the fact is there would be no magazine. Bartender has proven itself a trustworthy, respected and effective platform to promote great brands and it has been our privilege to work with you all for so many years.
Finally thank you to all trade who have read and supported our magazine and events over the years as you are the reason we do what we do. I personally love this industry and am honoured to have been able to write about and work with so many talented and inspirational people and bars over the many years. If you all continue to support our magazine myself and my team will continue to work hard and publish Bartender for you all for many years to come.
Long live print and cheers!