Sustainable bar practices are very much right in the bartending zeitgeist at the moment. There’s a huge emphasis on provenance and produce and generally doing the right thing, all the while making tasty, delicious drinks.
That’s very much core to what Adelaide cocktail bar, Maybe Mae, is all about. The bar is one of the finalists this year in the Cocktail Bar Of The Year category at Bartender Magazine Australian Bar Awards, and managing partner Ollie Margan has been instrumental in getting the sustainable conversation going around the country.
And come Saturday 14 September at Sydney Bar Week, Margan and three Maybe Mae bartenders are coming to town to give us all a taste of what they do with their Waste-Free Weekend at This Must Be The Place, thanks to 42BELOW.
Margan shares what to expect below, but get a look at the details and make sure you register ASAP.
This is just one of the 35-plus great events lined up over five days of Sydney Bar Week, taking place between Saturday the 14th and Wednesday the 18th of September. It’s set to be the biggest Bar Week ever — get over to barweek.com.au and get your RSVPs and tickets sorted before they run out.
You can also catch Margan talking about sustainability with a suite of other passionate and knowledgeable bartenders at The Business of Bars Conference — click here to get your ticket.
What: Waste Free Weekender
Date: Saturday, 14 September 2019
Time: 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Where: This Must Be The Place, 239 Oxford St, Darlinghurst
RSVP: Register here.
42BELOW is joining forces with Australia’s leading light in Sustainable Cocktail Bars ‘Maybe Mae’, for the wildest of waste-free-throw-downs!
We’re calling on Owner Operator Ollie Margan and his Adelaide team to curate a unique experience that showcases Maybe Mae’s industry-leading approach to minimising waste and smashing sustainability when making drinks. Gain an insight into hyperlocality, nose-to-tail drinking, preservation techniques and drink some straight-up bangin’ 42BELOW vodka cocktails while our DJs throw down the finest selection of guilty pleasures from deep in their recycled crates. You’d be a heartless d*ck to miss this – so come, get trash-free and party for the planet with us Upstairs at This Must Be The Place on Sept 14.
42BELOW, keeping our vodka pure to keep our planet pure.
What made you want to partner with 42Below as a brand?
42Below was a logical fit for us. They are a local-ish liquor company, driven to minimising their impact on the world around them. An uncompromising commitment to creating a quality driven product in a sustainable way. Whenever we look at collaborations, it is paramount that the two parties are operating on the same wavelength. With the latest project, Waste-Free Weekender, this was right up our street and resonated a lot with us so we couldn’t say no.
Can you tell me a little bit more about the partnership and Waste-Free Weekend
This relationship began with a dialogue around “how can we combine our skills and resources to increase awareness and understanding around waste minimisation in the bar industry?” The answer was pretty simple, “let’s throw a party that creates as much noise as possible, and at the close, leaves no trace that it was ever there.” No plastic packaging, no old lemon juice, no fruit scraps, nothing. We have scripted the tightest operating processes we have ever done to ensure we reach this goal.
There isn’t as much attention on the vodka category compared to some other spirit categories – why do you think that is? What particularly interests you?
Vodka is often associated with a fairly dark time in cocktail psyche. Also, ironically enough, that era (cue 90’s) is also home to the least sustainable bar practises in history. Handfuls of plastic straws in drinks, sour mix produced in a different hemisphere, shrink wrap on everything – almost no local or fresh produce was harmed for around a decade. Vodka got punished for a cocktail crime it didn’t commit!
Fast forward to now… we are in a time where local/native/fresh/organic/biodynamic produce is what every bartender is clambering for. Produce driven drinks are representative of the current zeitgeist in Australia (thanks Tim Phillips). Premium vodkas are back! Options such as 42Below on a back bar are proving to be a go-to for bartenders looking to craft high quality cocktails. The versatility of the spirit, be it in stiff stir-down Martini-style drinks, or tall, bright and effervescent Spritz cocktails make it such an exciting spirit category.
What can the trade expect from the Saturday night Bar Week event?
We will be showcasing Maybe Mae in its true form outside of its Adelaide home for the first time since we opened over five years ago. That is a fairly exciting prospect for us. Four of our core team are coming across, and we will be creating a space, complete with our table service aesthetic, and of course some drinks off our soon to be released new menu, which champions what we describe as the ‘Four Pillars of Sustainability.’ We will be curating a list of drinks with an enhanced focus on waste free drinking, championing the 42Below range. Additionally, there will be various highlights throughout the weekender, including a drink & draw session with notorious piss-taker, Struthless. The evenings will see the This Is The Place upstairs bar turned into a sustainable soirée with DJs playing on recycled vinyls that will electrify the dancefloor.
What kind of preparation goes into this kind of pop-up – bringing the Maybe Mae Adelaide flair to Sydney?
A huge amount. As I said, this is the first time we have done something like this, and that is mostly because we recognise the strength of our venue as being more than just the drinks. So to try and recreate the product elsewhere, means a tedious approach to detail to ensure we can do our product justice. We will be preparing several thousand serves, some of this done onsite, and some done at the home base – forecasting and managing freshness etc. is always a logistical challenge.
You are speaking at the Business of Bars conference sponsored by 42Below – why is this topic of sustainability so important to you?
I grew up in the country, removed from towns with shopping centres etc. there was no such thing as ‘convenience’ when it comes to meals. We had a huge market garden, fruit orchards, olive grove, bee hives, sheep, biodynamic pigs, small good curing rooms, chickens etc. When I saw how my parents took these agricultural facilities and built a restaurant concept around it, I just thought it was the coolest thing ever, and wanted to try and incorporate that into whatever I ended up doing. This taught me the importance of seasons; when to use certain things, and then how to take ingredients at their prime and preserve them for use all year round.
This concept is the genesis for my interest in the industry. It excites me no end.
Why did you select This Must Be The Place as a venue to host the pop up?
TMBTP has a strong role in Maybe Mae’s development as a bar. It was somewhere I visited regularly in our infancy. They are certainly a venue ahead of their time. The approach Luke, Elliot and the guys have to drink making is something that continues to inspire me every visit. They are genius’. The ability to be able to share a space with them for a few nights is our absolute privilege. Additionally, working with 42Below, we need a place that as versatile with the other activities that are going on like the drink & draw sessions and the Trash Bash, this place has it all.
What’s next for Maybe Mae – is there any other plans to keep working with 42Below to continue to spread this message?
We really hope this is the first step towards a really meaningful partnership with 42Below, in bridging the gap between producer, industry and consumer so to spread the good word on sustainability, and really enforce its recognition in the everyday bartenders vernacular.
Sustainability is a buzzword at the moment. How are you and 42Below incorporating this to ensure the message gets across to consumers?
Primarily, we are trying to create a super engaging atmosphere complete with great drinks. Hopefully this generates an atmosphere where we can educate consumers and industry alike on some really simple and effective ways in which we can all minimise our impact on the world. It definitely starts with creating a product with demand though, no point in retro engineering some concept that utilises a grapefruit 10 ways if no one wants to drink it.
42Below is known for their unapologetic tone and honesty – how are you both going to bring this to the Waste-Free Weekender
We have always had a ‘no bullshit’ policy when it comes to drinks. Cocktail culture in Adelaide still has a pretentious stigma attached to it. We have found the only way to make it work is to take off the bow tie and be real with our guests. Disruption is key to change, so hopefully we can create a bit of noise without taking ourselves too seriously.