We often field questions from people — whether they’re brands or bar owners or others from consumer publications — wanting to know who are the bartenders that are pushing boundaries, the guys and gals creating truly interesting drinking experiences. And one name we’ve had on the list of late? Dean Buchanan.
Buchanan began working at the Perth outpost of Long Chim — where he is now the bar manager — under James Connolly, and since taking over the reins he has been busy pushing the drinks further along the progressive spectrum (we have, for example, in the past fielded a recipe from Buchanan that was all about petrichor).
So we wanted to know just what goes on for Buchanan on any given day at work. Here, lightly edited and condensed, is what his job involves.
7:00am: The beautiful sound of Queen’s We Will Rock You blasts (it’s my alarm tone) and I’m awake(ish)…
Unfortunately, my wife Vanessa is already well and truly at work by this stage so I usually wake up alone. I lay in bed for 10-15mins checking reports and emails from the previous night. I have a lot of people in the building requesting for things so I need to be on top of my replies nice and early, I also have a quick look on socials as you never know what happens overnight. James Connolly [Buchanan’s former boss at Long Chim] has usually sent me a meme or two by now as well.
7:25am: By this stage I’ve showered, brushed my teeth, and done my hair all while my alarm keeps going off every two minutes just in case I haven’t woken up.
7:30am: April and Whisky have now heard me and begin begging for breakfast (these are our cats). They will have a blend of turkey and some dried things and I’ll have scrambled eggs and spinach on toast with a coffee.
8:23am: I always enjoy the bus trip into work as it’s my part of the day where I get to do some reading and prepares me for the day ahead; I’m currently reading up on neuroenology – how the brain creates the taste of wine. It pretty much explains how the fluid mechanics of the wine in your mouth and the patterns of your breathing activate your sensory and motor pathways to create the taste of wine, and together with your central brain system for emotion and memory, generate the whole perception of wine pleasure. Science.
9:00am: Arrived at work. The first thing I do is check on the fermentation areas (hopefully nothing has blown up). We always have a large amount fruit wines, meads and various other funky stuff all at different stages of the fermentation process so daily love is a must!
Currently we have a lot banana, jackfruit, sticky rice, plum, and mango wine that has been maturing for 250 days-plus; a variety of other native and seasonal wines etc. I then head to the loading bay to check on deliveries and sign any invoices that have been missed.
10.20am: Head up stairs to Telegram Coffee (if you’re ever in the State Buildings you need to have a coffee here it’s good stuff).
10.30am: I start setting the bar up and crack on with prep; usually by 11am I will try take one or two quick meetings because as we open at 12pm there usually isn’t a lot of time. I try to pop up to Wildflower two or three times a week. That’s the next drinks menu I’ll be working on with the team up there, which will be heavily focused on native Australian ingredients and that lower ABV approach.
12.00pm: Lunch service is usually pretty good and busy — lots of sodas and wine and more prep.
2:30pm: By now I’m usually working on some ideas for a drink concepts. Kaden — who is now my assistant bar manager — comes in to start and sees me taking photos for Instagram and says. “Ohh this is what you do all day long.”
He’s a super talented dude and together we talk super geeky stuff that would never make sense in a venue the size of Long Chim — but we still do the experiments anyway. Kaden has helped me create some of the drinks for Long Chim’s new menu where it is inspired by a journey through the streets of Bangkok. Some of the standout drinks are Banana & Cassia Bark wine, a sparkling jackfruit ferment, and a super tasty mace Martini launching soon.
3-4pm: I’ll be either in the office doing ordering, rostering, getting hounded by [Long Chim venue manager] Katie Chan for forgetting to do something or taking some late arvo meetings.
5pm: Evening service begins and as most bars and restaurants at this time it’s usually pretty intense; the team is great and its always a good fun to be together.
8pm: I usually take a dinner break; I used to only eat chicken rice and broccoli but I got over it after two years, and the food in the State Buildings is fantastic — we are lucky enough to be able to have a staff meal from Petition, Post or Long Chim. I will also try get a call or a few messages to Vanessa during this time as obviously I start to miss her a lot.
8:20pm: Back to service and making drinks and chatting to guests until around 10-10:30pm (depending on the night sometimes 12am or sometimes earlier).
10:30pm: I have arrived at my warehouse in the suburbs not far from my house this is where my side project base is. Working with some mates, we focus on extracting maximum flavour in numerous ways to create delicious liquid (more info to be released soon).
12:00am: Home, showered, feeling pretty good about the day and all ready to do it again.