A new generation of passionate bartenders is emerging into cocktail competitions and bars near you. In our upcoming February edition of Bartender magazine, Cara Devine has interviewed five of these personalities. Here we give you a sneak pic of one of these interviews with the interview with Judith Zhu from Sydney bar Door Knock.
Story by Cara Devine. Cara is our Melbourne-based drinks writer. She is the manager of Bomba in Melbourne and the face and talent behind the cocktailing YouTube channel Behind the Bar. You can email her at email@example.com
From globally recognised cocktail bars to cosy neighbourhood pubs, afternoon wine bar snacks to 2am seafood feasts, Australia prides ourselves on our hospitality scene. As we all well know, this industry is all about the people. After a shaky year or two of staff shortages post Covid it has been exciting to see a new generation of passionate bartenders emerge into cocktail competitions and bars near you. Even better, they are shaking off the stereotypes of bartending and doing things their own way. Here I chat with Judith Zhu about the state of the industry and where it’s headed.
Bar Manager, Door Knock, Sydney NSW
Zhu was tired of studying online during the pandemic, and decided to channel her love of flavour and desire to interact with people into creating memorable cocktails and experiences for people. In the past year she has been recognised in the Top 50 of World Class, secured a position in the Drinks World Top 25 Bartenders, and won the 1883 Syrups Drink Design Contest. She is also proud of winning the Bartender Boxing competition at Bar Week after ten weeks of rigorous training – “that was an extraordinary experience that fostered a deep sense of camaraderie with my peers.”
What keeps you in the industry?
I’m continuously fuelled by the incredible community of talented women in the industry. Their dedication and creativity inspire me to keep pushing boundaries and creating memorable experiences.
“At Door Knock, I’m dedicated to fostering a safe and nurturing space where individuals, particularly women and gender-diverse bartenders, can access training and support that might not be readily available elsewhere.”
What do you see as opportunities for growth?
I’m committed to entering competitions and collaborating with brands and individuals that share my values and ethos. As for the next five years, while it’s hard to predict specifics, I’m eager to continue developing and expanding my skill set and eventually exploring international opportunities that come my way. The industry’s ongoing support in terms of mentorship, sponsorship, and creating platforms for growth and learning is something I deeply appreciate and rely on as I strive to achieve these goals.
What do you see as areas for improvement within the industry?
Creating a supportive and inclusive environment is key. At Door Knock, I’m dedicated to fostering a safe and nurturing space where individuals, particularly women and gender-diverse bartenders, can access training and support that might not be readily available elsewhere. It’s imperative for the industry as a whole to ensure inclusivity in providing these opportunities.
Trend predictions for 2024?
I foresee bars and brands continuing to embrace a sustainable ethos across all aspects of service and cocktail creation. Additionally, I hope to witness a surge in bartenders exploring unconventional flavours. and spirits that break away from traditional norms.