In light of BACARDÍ Legacy Australia’s announcement of the Three Most Promising for 2018, Drinks World sat down with each bartender to discuss their motivation behind entering, how they’ll be promoting their drinks and what they’re bringing to the competition.
Our last (but definitely not least!) finalist is Queensland’s Zachary Mynott. A bit of an Aussie larrikin, Zach might enjoy some friendly banter and a good laugh, but he’s taking this year’s competition seriously as the first Most Promising member to serve his own shrub.
DRINKS WORLD: Why did you enter BACARDÍ Legacy?
ZACHARY MYNOTT: One of the draw cards for me is the simplicity factor. It’s very hard to come across a cocktail competition that encourages simplicity, skill and balance. And finding that area, that sweet spot, between simplicity and a standout drink is quite difficult. A lot of people say things like, “It’s a legacy cocktail, it’s not that hard and not that creative.” I think, in a way, it’s actually very difficult to create a modern classic that highlights a simple ingredient and can be made in any place.
This is the first year they entered a shrub, which was a big factor that contributed to me entering because I use competitions as a chance to boost things that I don’t know. I think it’s the best way to learn how to do something. Shrubs are, funnily enough, something that I haven’t played with before; I’ve clarified things, I’ve done oleo-saccharums, but I’ve never really experimented with shrubs. So when Bacardi put it forward, Peter Hollands had a chat with me about it and I decided that I wanted to give it a go.
I also love the aspect of the marketing. It puts us well outside our comfort zone, and I think that’s really cool. BACARDÍ Legacy also gives people the opportunity to move outside the bartending scene and on to other things, for example Peter Hollands who was top three two years ago is now a Brand Ambassador for BACARDÍ. He gained a lot of experience through the marketing steps of BACARDÍ, and I think that’s invaluable knowledge.
DW: How has your venue reacted to your selection as top three?
ZM: Their words were, “Congratulations, we’re really proud of you, that’s awesome! If you win the national final you’re fired.” (Laughs) I’m pretty sure they were joking, but they were like, “You need a week off work to go party in Mexico?” I tried to explain that it was to compete in Mexico but I don’t think they quite believed me. (Laughs)
They gave me a bit of a nudge, but overall I think they’re pretty happy about it. Canvas Club is different to a lot of venues in Brisbane. Many have a policy that in order to work behind the bar, you need to enter competitions. Canvas Club isn’t like that. They encourage you when you want to enter competitions, and they accept when you don’t.
Although I don’t think they’re thrilled about the amount of fridge space currently being taken up by the shrub… I’ve got about six or seven litres of it in the fridge out the back because it’s got to rest. I’m trying to promote my drink by getting it on the menu of bars but a lot turn me away at the concept of having to make a shrub, so I tell them I’ll make the first batch for them. As a result, I’ve got a whole bunch of it in the fridge and they’re kind of a bit funny about it still… So there’s a bit of mixed feelings.
DW: Roughly how many hours a week would you be dedicating to prepping and training yourself for the national finals of BACARDÍ Legacy?
ZM: For me, personally, I’ve spent maybe an hour and a half before my shift that last couple of Fridays cutting about eight pineapples, weighing them, measuring them and putting them away. In terms of practicing speeches for the video and preparing for the final, I’ve put a fair amount of time into it.
I think with any competition, especially one at such a high level as BACARDÍ Legacy, it’s really important to prepare. Preparation is super important. You can’t walk in and wing it.
It’s not so much training that takes my time time, as the time I spend talking to bartenders or customers about the passion and inspiration behind my cocktail. Because the more I talk about it to them, the easier it will be to relay that to the judges.
DW: What do you think your point of difference is from your competitors?
ZM: I think one of the biggest differences is that I’ve spent a lot of time with a gent named Kal Moore – one of my old housemates and venue manager – who has ranked in Australia’s top 10 bartenders for four or five years straight now. He’s just a walking encyclopaedia. He’s drilled me on the classics, so that my point of difference is that I do have a very good understanding of them all, even the obscure ones. This gives me a really broad base for what I want to do in competitions. It’s funny, because out of all the obscure classics I know I’ve twisted a piña colada.
Another point of difference from the other guys is that I am a bit loud and boisterous in my own kind of way. I got into bartending as a job that I didn’t really think about much. I was looking for some work, so I started pouring beers in an RSL and eventually got fired by an 80-year-old woman for leaning on a bar and chewing bubblegum. (Laughs) I’ve just grown from there.
What’s taken me to this point in my bartending career is the conversations I get to have with people from behind the bar. I love to light up a room and keep people in it, get groups sitting at one side of the bar to engage with the group on the other side of the bar. Working in a small cocktail bar, I have the unique opportunity to make bespoke cocktails for people and make it an interactive experience for them, which I think is really important. So I’d say my service style sets me apart. It’s a bit more relaxed and free-flowing. Overall, I think it’s the energy that I have behind a bar and the ability to have a conversation with patrons.
DW: How are you promoting your drinks during the ‘Most Promising’ period?
ZM: I’m terrible at social media. I’m honestly God-awful at it. (Laughs) I was thinking about using Facebook as the main medium, but someone today informed me that Instagram is the best form as far as reach goes. So the first thing I’ll be doing is getting an Instagram started up and linking that to my Facebook page.
I’m predominantly trying to target consumer trade events. My thought process is that people want to find their own photos, so I’ll be taking photos of everyone who drinks my drink and handing them a business card. The card will have on it the venues that will be supplying my drink on their menus, and let the consumer know that the only way to get the photo and upload it for themselves is to go to my page and find it. We’re aiming for 1,000 consumer and 1,000 trade in tasting, so I’m hoping that boosts my amount of likes. The other thing they showed me today that I’ll be using is Instagram stories.
Other than that, I have a little ace in my pocket that I’m saving till the last minute.
DW: What do you want your legacy to be?
ZM: I think the legacy I’d like to leave is a drink that gives people the courage and enthusiasm to tackle dreams they never have done before. The idea is that when you finish up your Friday grind and you head to the bar after work, if you have something with a blurb about escape and freedom attached, it might give you the courage to think about making positive changes to your life. I’m definitely inspired by Don Facundo from BACARDÍ, who moved from Spain over to Cuba to work at a convenience store, and when he didn’t find a passion for that, he had the courage to stop and create a rum that we know and love globally. He didn’t go there to make rum, he moved to Cuba from a sense of purpose and so found an escape from Spain. Something inspired him to do so, and I’d love to try and create a drink that inspires people to do something similar.
DW: What’s your greatest memory on a night out whilst enjoying BACARDÍ?
ZM: It was pretty recent! (Laughs) We managed to round up a couple of boys from Brisbane on National Mojito Day and went to all our favourite bars, sat around, talked our usual banter and drank BACARDÍ mojitos! Honestly, before this I never would have ordered a mojito. I love daiquiris, I love piña coladas, but a mojito is just one of those drinks that I’ve never really ordered.
It was just a really nice group of guys that I’ve known for a long time and I’m comfortable having a few drinks with. It definitely got a little sloppy at the end, but it was a really good night out and not something I’d ever done before. It was the realisation that BACARDÍ is quality rum.