Damien Kos-Beckwith is the first ever bartender from Geelong to reach the lofty heights of the Top 8 in the Bartender of the Year competition sponsored by BACARDÍ & De Kuyper. Hailing from the 18th Amendment Bar, here Kos-Beckwith talks regional bars, rum and his plans for a podium finish in 2020.
You’re the first Geelong bartender to hit the Top 8 in a while, if ever — what did that feel like on that night?
It was an absolutely humbling experience being in stage in front of hundreds of the industry’s finest! Something that I will never forget, and that I aim to do again. Time felt like someone hit fast forward and it was over before it began. Being able to represent a regional centre that has so much undiscovered potential is very exciting and I can’t wait to see more Geelong venues among future Bartender Magazine Bar Awards in the future.
Is there a spirit category you think deserves more attention and if so, why?
I feel that rum has always been a popular spirit in Australia but not for the right reasons, there are some absolutely delicious premium sipping rums that don’t get enough spotlight amongst the other dark spirits.
Can you describe what your idea of a great bar experience is?
A great bar experience is when I walk into a bar and get taken by atmosphere of the venue, then instantly feel at home and comfortable enough to relax and enjoy.
The 18th Amendment Bar I call my home, and it’s because I welcome people to it like it is my home. I feel like this level of hospitality isn’t reached sometimes because “it’s just a job” but when you love what you do the customers can see that and it usually ends in return business.
What’s 2020 got in store for you?
In 2020 I would love to push myself to the pointy end, the Top 3, for BOTY.
We also have a new venue opening in Geelong which will be all hands on deck for the early part of the year, getting that established and ready for a new bar of the year nomination (fingers crossed).