Josh Reynolds: Group Beverage Director of The Point Group on learning from the best & his creative approach to crafting drinks

Story by Andy Ratcliff, email him at

I first met Josh when we worked together at The Baxter Inn in 2017. He was fresh from London and arrived like a powerhouse on to the bar scene. Josh works like a controlled tornado. It’s simply impossible to keep up with the way his brain processes information, but I’ve tried. He has a hilariously dark sense of humour and makes the most delectable drinks imaginable.

To give you an idea of his international reputation, I was once in a cab with Erik Lorincz (Kwant, The Savoy) and he asked me who I thought made the best drinks in the country. Without a moment’s pause, I blurted out,” Josh Reynolds makes the tastiest drinks I’ve ever had.” He looked at me and said, “Ali’s little brother? I don’t doubt that for a second.”
We talked with him today to hear his story, which has taken him from his hometown of Derby (which he affectionately calls Dar-bay-dos) all the way to Sydney.

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Tell us about your start in hospitality. Where did you grow up and how did you make it into the industry?
I grew up in England and started hospitality at the age of 18 down in Nottingham as a barback after Ali (my older brother, now head of advocacy and global ambassador for Stauning Danish Whisky) got me a trial shift at this weird bar called Eschucha. It was super seedy, but I was on the bar in 6 months or so, making some classics and on menu drinks, a good experience, if I’m honest. Some extremely talented bartenders at that time in that little city have gone and accomplished some incredible things.

After heading down to the big smoke that is London Town, where did you work and what did you learn coming away from that experience?
Ali called me one evening when I was working in Bristol to move to London and help him really kick start Pollen Street Social, a venue owned and run by Gordon Ramsey’s protégé Jason Atherton in Mayfair – I learnt that service was everything, cleanliness was paramount and hard work got you places. Hours were daunting but thick skin was attained in abundance in that place. Then it was onto Hawksmoor Spitalfields, joining Ali once more, where I’d say my career really set alight, learning every single day from London’s finest, an incredible restaurant and bar. The training was second to none, and you were held accountable for standards in every aspect every single day. I loved it. I spent five years there. Three of them as head bartender, taking that bar to Tales and winning best international restaurant bar was incredible.

“Try not to drown. Listen to your gut and have fun. Sometimes, things don’t go the way you think they should go in your head, you’ve just got to roll with the punches.”

Your brother Ali has been a big influence in your life. What’s it like working together? I’d imagine a melting pot of emotion and classic Reynolds chat.
He absolutely has, I love him to death. I worked with him pretty much from age 21 to 27, it’s a joy man, intense at times but that’s two brothers for you who hate to lose, at anything, ever.

You spent a lot of time working with Matt Whiley at Scout (London & Sydney). How did that shape the way you made drinks or just add another element to the arsenal?
He made me realise that there are so many ways to approach the construction of a drink, the man is a genius and I still ring him to ask him questions about all things weird and wonderful. The best thing about Matt is that he is more than happy to educate anyone at any time.

The Dolphin in Surry Hills

We had so many great times over the years in many bars. You’ve got a lot of energy and drive and a commitment to quality that should demand respect. What keeps driving you? What motivates you to “make it perfect” every time?
The drive is to make something I’ve never made taste incredible – that excites me. And the “make it perfect every time” mantra is simple. The answer for me is this. – “Would I pay for that?” That’s it!

Tell us about your experience winning Chivas Global and Wild Turkey. How did the travel and accolades change you and the way you approach hospitality?
Never again will I experience those trips, once-in-a-lifetime sort of stuff. Making drinks on the Great Wall of China, travelling Asia for three years, making whisky with Colin Scott, talking to Jimmy Russell, bourbon dinners at castles in Scotland, and meeting legends of the industry left, right and centre, to name a few. Something I’ll cherish until my day is done. It didn’t really change my approach; it just opened my eyes to drink-making around the world. Priceless!

Tell us about your role with the Point Group. It’s a massive undertaking being a group beverage manager. What are some tips for bartenders looking to make the jump into a role like yours?
It’s a plethora of things, really; I’m based at the Dolphin because that’s my baby, and it’s also where my workspace is for all drink creation. It is not easy constantly coming up with drinks on your own, but it’s a lot of fun for sure. Training across the group, instilling passion wherever possible. I’m a stickler for standards and getting the basics perfect.It’s all well and good making clarified mandarin juice but if you can’t make a well-constructed gin and tonic, you’re probably missing something.

Some tips for bartenders: The weeks are lightning quick in bars and restaurants so prepare to move and keep up with the times. Try not to drown. Listen to your gut and have fun. Sometimes, things don’t go the way you think they should go in your head, you’ve just got to roll with the punches.

Tell us about the new menu for Shell House. What makes a great winter style cocktail and how have you achieved this in the new menu?
It’s 12 drinks each allocated to where we see it working within the four venues of Shell House. I love seasonality, always have, always will. It’s the height of flavour. I also like tongue-in-cheek mixed in with, say, the seriousness of the preparation all the way up to the serve. There’s flavours that appear throughout the drinks I’ve created like, The Roasted Chestnut Negroni, Buddha’s Hand Alpine Negroni, Truffle and Cacao Boulevardier, Rhubarb and Vanilla Clarified Custard Punch, A Hazelnut and Pine Mushroom number with Whisky, the Feijoa Libation with quince, guava and salted plum and a Kumquat Jack Rose, I also created a chocolate brownie Ron Zacapa drink with toasted cardamom, hay caramel and walnut wine, a winter spritz with fresh yuzu and riesling vermouth. It’s been the most intense prep but also the most fun I’ve had creating a menu for a long time. A great winter drink is something that lends itself to the word Winter – which can mean many, many things. Use your imagination.”

Shell House, Sydney

Last question! What’s your favourite bar on earth, and if you could only have one last drink, what would it be, and who would it be with?
My favourite bar on earth doesn’t exist and it never will. However, my last drink would be a pint of the greatest Guinness with a pack of salt and vinegar crisps with my brother, in our 70’s. He’s my best drinking partner hands down. The end!