These brand ambassadors have travelled the country; here’s what they think is coming next

They’ve got what many consider the dream job: they fly about the country, spreading the good word about their brands, have the expense account, the frequent flyer miles and lounge access, and the chance to see the best bars wherever they may be.

They’re the brand ambassadors, and we’ve spoken to them for our annual feature on some of the country’s best, to get their advice on how a bartending career can move into an ambassadoring role, and what they want to see in the industry in the year ahead.

Thalita Alves, Brown-Forman Brand Ambassador.
Thalita Alves
Brown-Forman Brand Ambassador

If you could give bartenders one piece of advice on becoming an ambassador, what would it be? 
To be honest, becoming a brand ambassador wasn’t really part of my plan when I was bartending. Being behind the bar was the sole career I wanted to pursue and many talented bartenders slinging drinks out there have the same goal. It isn’t an easy path. Not many venues will give you enough support when it comes to “life balance” and “financial security”. If it were, I believe we would see more of us shaking drinks for years to come.

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So my advice, keep in mind that when it comes to career progression you have many possibilities in the spirits world. Working for a brand is but one of them, and only one of them. Put some serious thought into this and choose the one you have passion for.  If it is ambassador work, ensure you have passion for the brands you will represent.

I really love whisk(e)y, and took a job opportunity with a company that has a huge focus in this beautiful dark spirit with brands that I genuinely like.

It’s important not to get overly excited and start branding yourself with just any opportunity in front of you, to consider what you want to achieve next.

What has been your favourite bar industry trend of the last year and why? 
I wouldn’t call it “trends”, but our industry has had an amazing few years raising concerns around topics like wellbeing, mental health, gender equality and sustainability. To see those discussions come to life and putting in place plans of action, makes me feel quite proud to be a part of it.

What do you want to see happen in the industry in the year ahead? 
A nice community feel, all the whisky, more action around the topics I mentioned before. And of course … world peace!


Karel ‘Papi’ Reyes
Monin Brand Ambassador

What has been your favourite bar industry trend of the last year and why?
Enjoy and do your best! Just take into consideration that being an ambassador is a great responsibility and that you are the face of the brand. Educate, represent and inspire bartenders and consumers with passion and dedication without taking anything for granted. You must be ready to work 24/7 and need to know your brand from A to Z, so it doesn’t matter what brand you represent, the commitment is the same. Time, experience and dedication will lead you to the right path.

What do you want to see happen in the industry in the year ahead?
I would love to see in our industry in the year ahead the expansion of spirits and cocktails using more local ingredients. Australia has so many great resources that can be played with in drinks, and it would be great to see them utilised more.

Peter Hollands
Bacardi-Martini Brand Ambassador

If you could give bartenders one piece of advice on becoming an ambassador, what would it be? 
Do all the extra curricular gigs. It’s not enough to be a great bartender. I worked for Jason Crawley and Dylan Howarth at the Drink Cabinet doing beer trainings in Brisbane and outback QLD, places like Roma and Mt Isa. It’s not always glamorous but you need to earn your stripes.

What has been your favourite bar industry trend of the last year and why? 
Adelaide, go there for your next trip, the bars there are some of the best in the country.

What do you want to see happen in the industry in the year ahead? 
I’d love to see all bartenders be able to tell a great story. It’s an important part of bar culture to be able to spin a good yarn.

Moet Hennessy’s Garth Foster.
Garth Foster
Moet-Hennessy Brand Ambassador

Could you give bartenders a piece of advice on ambassadoring?
I have three: One, get involved with brands that you genuinely respect and admire — you are going to be spending a lot of time with them! Two, know your brands and get involved in any training session or activation you can in the bar you are in. Three, practise waking up early on Monday mornings…. The night owl lifestyle may be something you think you can do without — but there is a definite romance to the midweek beach time before shifts which you will most definitely miss.

What has been your favourite bar industry trend of the past year? 
The increase and mindfulness of sustainability. Bartenders have obviously always been leaders in society for many things including drinks knowledge, creativity and flavour innovation but it has been great to see this sphere of influence spread. Having contact with so many people day to day it’s our duty to make a positive difference.

What do you want to see happen in the industry in the year ahead?
Being Sydney based – it is hard not to dream of a dream of a more commonsense approach to the night time economy. Our bartenders, bars and drinks compete with the best on the world stage — and it took an immense amount of work from some really passionate and talented people to get us there. It will be a shame to waste this, and our perception internationally as a global city which in turn affect both Australia as a destination, and our industry as a chosen career path.

Hannah Lawson. Photo: Georgia Verrells
Hannah Lawson
Poor Toms Gin Brand Ambassador

What has been your favourite bar industry trend of the last year and why?
I think the best piece of advice I can give is never underestimate the power of your own ability. Too often I see fabulous people wait for an opportunity to arrive at their feet, or are too afraid to shape their own future. You can’t let your own fears of failure stop you from taking a risk, prevent you from doing something you’ve dreamed of. Be bold, seek out your own opportunities. Ask for that job, meet new people, tell yourself you ARE good enough even if you don’t wholly believe it. If you feel like you are completely insane to attempt such a feat but say ‘stuff it, I’ll do it anyway’, then you’re probably on the path to something pretty amazing for yourself.  I forgot who said it, but I find this quote particularly poignant, ‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.’

 What do you want to see happen in the industry in the year ahead?
Along with embracing sustainability wholeheartedly, I want to see a shift in mindset about toxic past behaviour being seen as acceptable ‘because we’ve always done it that way.’ Too often I hear stories from chefs, bartenders, servers, management and owners accepting unacceptable work standards and behaviour because it’s the norm. It’s so crucial that we call out these stories and ask ourselves, ‘Is this actually okay?’ Whether it’s unfair pay, sexism, harassment or bullying, we need to identify that every single person in this industry deserves work standards that will allow them to grow positively. Change is scary but this industry is in such an exciting time at the moment, and these changes will create a foundation that will allow it to have great longevity.

Cerbaco’s Emmanuel Conde.
Emmanuel Conde
Cerbaco Brand Ambassador

If you could give bartenders one piece of advice on becoming an ambassador, what would it be?
Listen to your clients. Also, always give your best customer service because that’s what you do: you help your clients getting what they want, easily. To be able to actually help people provides great satisfaction.

What has been your favourite bar industry trend of the last year and why?
Discussions around a cleaner industry are my favourite. Think people (mental health, fair wages) and the environment (less waste, no plastic). To see the industry being more and more active around these matters is awesome! Why? Because it means that we offer recreational time (having fun in bars) without compromising on the people doing it, and the effects this can have. I wish I could do more at my level (using an electric bike for my tastings or running physical activities sessions at hospo hours).

What do you want to see happen in the industry in the year ahead?
My friend Libby Travers writes a regular newsletter about hospitality. In her last missive, she talked about “an oath of hospitality”, similar to what doctors have in place. I believe there’s an idea here. To have some acknowledgements or values the industry decides to follow would be splendid. Take a group of hospo legends and down to earth operators across the industry. Write down the most important things to abide by. Create a label. Offer the label to participating venues. Get the government to support the label. Promote it to the public. I think there’s 


Evonne Eadie
Solerno Brand Ambassador

If you could give bartenders one piece of advice on becoming an ambassador, what would it be? 
Live and work with integrity. You will create relationships with hundreds of people over your career, workmates, customers, fellow bartenders.  You never know who may be hiring for that job you want in years to come, so put your best foot forward from day one.

What has been your favourite bar industry trend of the last year and why?
Not so much a trend, but the movement of calling out of inappropriate behaviour.  Whether that be gender related, race related, environmental, or just plain being a dick.  I am proud to be part of an industry that is passionate about equality and taking actual steps to solve much larger societal issues.

What do you want to see happen in the industry in the year ahead?
It is already beginning, but I want to see more support for mental health and more accountability for employers who are taking advantage of staff.  This is a work hard, play hard environment and burn-out it a serious issue.  We need to make sure there are the networks and systems in place to allow us to work in this industry for years to come.


Neil Flannery
Jameson Brand Ambassador

What has been your favourite bar industry trend of the last year and why?
Get comfortable outside of your comfort zone. Look at the key criteria of a good brand ambassador i.e. public speaking, social media proficiency, product knowledge etc. These are all tangible skills which can be improved. Put a plan in place to develop the areas that you’re not currently strong in. In the process, you’ll be gaining valuable experience that will help you argue your case in a job interview. Secondly, know your value. As ambassadors we spend a huge portion of our time trying to engage and excite bartenders. As bartenders you know exactly what works and what doesn’t when speaking to people within the industry. Allude to this insider knowledge when speaking to brands about representing them – it’s a major advantage.

What do you want to see happen in the industry in the year ahead?
We shouldn’t underestimate the power of the hospitality industry in Australia. We are an industry loaded with influential bars, bartenders, live music venues and more. Coming together and using this power to support important causes within hospitality will improve the longevity of this successful period. We’re proud to be sponsoring the amazing Colemans academy, which champions females within the industry. We also put our Sine Metu Squad to work at Ozharvest last month where we made 200+ meals for the homeless. These are examples of the good that can be done. If we pool our resources even further a lot more good can be done.


Georgina Mann
Bacardi-Martini Brand Ambassador

If you could give bartenders one piece of advice on becoming an ambassador, what would it be?
Never stop learning! Events and training sessions are becoming more and more regular and it’s easy to ignore the Facebook invites but the best thing is to get out there… Meet the people in your industry and build relationships. Follow up simply by visiting their bar – as much as knowledge is power, relationships are just, if not more, vital.

What has been your favourite bar industry trend of the last year and why?
There’s been a massive sweep on sustainability and reducing waste which has been really positive. From Trash Tiki to campaigns like “The Future Doesn’t Suck”, the last six months or so has been right behind being better to the planet. I mean, I at least find it pretty shocking hearing facts like: Every plastic straw that has ever been made is still in existence… They were invented in 1888.

What do you want to see happen in the industry in the year ahead?
I’d love to see a stronger mentoring programs going on. I think we need to nurture the juniors in our industry so they have the best opportunity to reach their potential. I don’t think this needs to be in the shape of set programs as such (although they are great too), its just about appreciation and helping them understand how wonderful the bar community can be! I didn’t start out as a waitress with a goal of being a Brand Ambassador or even staying in hospitality long term but my career path took unplanned and unexpected turns and I couldn’t be happier than where I’ve landed now. 


Mikey Lowe
Monkey Shoulder Brand Ambassador

If you could give bartenders one piece of advice on becoming an ambassador, what would it be?

The lifestyle is more peripatetic than fully hectic, bro! A BA isn’t just the face and fun of the brand, it is, but there is more involved depending on the company you work for. Some are sales focused, some are marketing focused, some are both, and some are neither (where essentially you’re an activation specialist). There are long office hours, late nights backed up with early mornings, and constant travel. At times you feel like you’re trying to herd cats on your own amidst a field of clown farmers. You eat what you can, when you can. You start discounting the necessity of water, and exercise is a dream for dreamers. Talk to BA’s outside of their events and you’ll understand before jumping into that role. You want advice?  If you can see yourself as both the roadie and the rockstar, you’ve got the right mindset before you send out your resume.

What has been your favourite bar industry trend of the last year and why?

Let’s stop talking trends, they’re too short lived. Talking trends are a common question, but a question that is already a historical point at the time of asking. We need to stop looking behind. Further conversations need to be had about the future and how we can get to the best perceived future. Let’s look at what has been done today to change the way our industry runs, the welfare of our community, and the pioneering of better practices for tomorrow. There’s nothing behind us, everything ahead of us, as ever there is on this road. Let’s start a trend towards longevity.

What do you want to see happen in the industry in the year ahead?

I want to see a return to the basics. Communication has to be clear so that bartenders can defy preconceptions and dissolve biases. Strip back opinions and uncover the truth. Our community is forward thinking, let’s not fall folly to fallacy nor act as sheep. Let’s also ensure we have more fun, where we learn to play again.

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