The BACARDÍ Legacy Four Most Promising were named last October at The Boom Boom Room in Brisbane. Here, they talk about the inspiration behind their BACARDÍ Legacy and share a little about their own journeys.
Jungle Boy, Melbourne
Why do you do what you do? Are you a people person?
I’d like to think I’m a people person. People can get on my nerves, as I think they do to all. I worked hospitality throughout college, because I had to, to pay for my degree. I started travelling, and I got a job in a resort in Western Australia, in Broome. The manager asked me if I’d rather be on the floor or the bar, and at that point I’d worked on the floor for a long time, and said, ‘You know what, I need something new — something fresh.’ I wasn’t looking at it as a career move, but I just needed something to invigorate me a little bit.
Two weeks after I started, the bar manager quit and he said, ‘Okay, you’re the bar manager.’ I remember someone ordering an Amaretto Sour and I was googling how to make an Amaretto Sour, I remember that. There was something about that moment that just triggered me, it was awesome — I’m creating stuff with my hands.
Do you script your presentations?
I do script things to a degree, it depends on the competition. I like to script myself to the degree where I have very specific points, like if I want to hit a brand point. But I don’t script myself to the point where every single word is scripted because I’ve found that you tie yourself to something and then if you screw up, then you get kind of worried if you miss one word.
Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind your drink?
I think no matter what we do, you can take anyone out there, someone who is a pasta maker, whatever — there’s always someone who came before you. There always is. And whether or not you were directly or indirectly influenced by them, you were influenced by them. Because they progressed that field and profession. What you’ve done is picked up where they left off.
So I wanted a drink that heroes that, and to then dive deeper and create a drink that heroes the Cuban cantineros. They were killing it way before 1920 and Prohibition, but not a lot of people know that.
The Gresham, Brisbane
Do you consider yourself a people person?
I have to be — I never thought I was. My mum will tell you that I’m not. She has always told me I should be a mortician, because I work better with the dead and they can’t talk back! I’m being dead serious.
Tell us about your drink and the women who have inspired it?
It’s an idea I’ve always had to use if I was going to enter a cocktail competition — it’s been stuck in my head. But I was like, how am I going to come up with the ingredients in the drink?
I sat down and wrote a word association as I was writing it out. I had an original idea — and it was shut down. I dumped it into the drain, 24 hours before it was due. I wasn’t going to enter this year. But Jack [Stacey from The Gresham] pushed me, told me ‘Don’t give up — go into the back room, sit down for an hour, come up with an idea.’ And that’s when I got it. It’s about inspiration.
To be honest, my upbringing? Chicks are my family. The very first ingredient I could think of was honey, because my mum is just crazy — she has bee suits in the backyard. I have terror every time I have to look after her place for the weekend, I don’t want to go down and look after the chickens because there’s a bee hive right there! I got stung once when I was young and it was painful. It’s horrible to me! Honey’s okay, but my mum is obsessed with it. Her car is legitimately a black and yellow Mini.
So honey is for my mum, the violette is for my grandma. The first time I can remember getting my arse beaten was when my granddad told me off for picking too many violets from her garden. And when I first tasted the Aviation, that was my inspiration for cocktails, at Press Club — Sean Chow made it for me. It was the first original taste where I had never tasted anything like it before in my life. I’ve been obsessed with violette ever since — it’s in my perfume, everything.
And obviously the lime is for my friend Courtney. She absolutely hates citrus, and I used to sneak it into all her drinks at Deathproof — I was like, ‘You need to take some vitamins or you’re going to get scurvy. You’re a dancer — be healthy!’ Now she’s dancing at the Moulin Rouge in Paris and she doesn’t have scurvy — it’s all up to me. I did that.
The last thing, the Coco Lopez refers to coconut body products, a fake tan for a friend Jordy who used to wear it all the time and I hated it. It turned me off it so bad — she used to stink of vanilla and coconut all the time, I can’t take it.
And the girl who it’s named after, she’s an artist and a photographer who goes under the name Me Oh My Girl, and I’ve been friends with her for a long time. I wanted her permission to name it after her, and she came and tasted it and said, ‘Girl, it tastes like a Gucci Daiquiri.’ Yes! That’s what I’ve been waiting for!
I feel like it was just the right time and the right culmination of people, to be honest.
Restaurant Hubert, Sydney
What’s the inspiration for your drink?
When I heard the name Legacy, I thought about what I want to leave as my legacy. In a career, in a lifetime, what do you want to do as your legacy, what do you want people to think of what you leave? There’s this joke of [me] being a queen and one of the leading females in the industry, so what can I teach to others coming through my footsteps or coming through a path that I’ve led. What can I leave by example and what can I do? I want to first and foremost preach having fun. Why do we do this? It’s because it’s fun, because we enjoy it — why else? What’s the point of living if you’re not having fun? If I was to rule the world for a day, what would I do? I’d tell everyone to have fun, follow what they’re good at and what they enjoy, not because it’s what they’re supposed to do but because it’s what they want to do. If that’s my legacy, to give people a little more fun in their lives and to make people a bit more true to themselves? I’m unashamedly myself, and there’s no cutting corners around that. It’s taken me a long time to be unashamedly myself. There’s a lot of darkness behind not being okay with who I was, not feeling good enough and stuff like that.
When you’re behind the bar you’ve got that three feet of safety buffer. They don’t know how you are. You can be who you want. It took me a long time to [admit] I’m not happy. Over time you realise, you go, ‘I’m okay’, and then one day it just clicked and I thought: I’m going to own this. I stopped apologising for who I was, or how I was, and found that people reacted well to it. It’s a very scary thing putting yourself out there.
That’s what I wanted to put through in this drink. You can find that bit of you and bring it forward and say this is my legacy, or this is the mark I want to leave on the world, or the mark I want I want to leave on today — or even the mark I want to leave on this service.
When you finally let go of everything and you say ‘Hey, I’ve got nothing to lose.’
This is what I’m going to put forward.
Snapper Rocks, Darwin
How do you prepare for a competition?
Look, it’s interesting. For a competition I roughly like to get the key points that I want to get across, but I like to work to my crowd and actually gauge feedback from them as to where I want to go and how I go about it.
It’s a personal conversation as well. You [the judges] are my customers and it’s just great to have you there.
Tell us about your drink.
This is a fun drink. For me, the Grasshopper has been important in my career in bartending, something that’s been at the key moments in my bartending career. So for me to re-envisage a drink that’s based on the Grasshopper is something that’s really cool.
In terms of the drink, it’s really simple: we’re talking about 50mls of BACARDÍ Ocho 8 Year Old Rum; we’re talking about 10mls of crème de cacao, the white one; 10mls of crème de menthe white; we’re talking about a rinse of Branca Menta. It’s delicious, a beautiful drink.
I was on holiday in New Orleans, everyone loves a holiday in New Orleans. Getting to go to a bar called Tujaque’s in New Orleans for me is something that’s really spiritual and really amazing. It’s the first ever standup bar in America, the second bar in New Orleans, and the home of the Grasshopper invented in 1919. And there’s a correlation between BACARDÍ and Tujaque’s facing Prohibition at the same time — Tujaque’s traded through Prohibition the whole time. They were hiding shit in their aprons, it was gorgeous — proper bartenders. The police didn’t give a shit. They were the cool place to be.
There were two factors going on there, so that was happening, but there was also the medicinal side. Branca Menta wasn’t invented at the time, but Fernet Branca was going nuts, because it was classified as medicinal.
So those were happy days — life was great.
Why do you do what you do?
We love what we do. Hospitality is the best industry there is. I’ve worked many roles before, where I’ve gotten up to a position where all I do is answer emails, and I had to leave that. I need the interaction, because without it I sit there and I’m bored — I hate it. The interaction with people is what drives us to do what we do.
Do you think people are born with hospitality or is it something people can learn?
You know whether it’s your thing straight away, and it always was for me.