A little over a year ago Dan Gregory took out the Australian final of the Angostura Global Cocktails Challenge. Drinks World checks in with newly minted Taswegian.
Known and loved by many, Dan has worked behind the bar at some of the country’s most respected venues such as Black Pearl, Eau De Vie, The Gresham & Shady Pines over his 11 year career. He has a long list of awards and accolades to his name including, Australian Bartender of the Year, Drinks World Top 25 three years in a row, as well as this year’s Drinks World Top Bartender Award.
Always a huge fan of Angostura’s products, he says, “It has been a great honour representing a premium brand like Angostura. I’m looking forward to continuing my journey with the Brand in 2019.”
After winning the Australian title, and battling it out with the best of the best at the Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge (AGCC) in February 2018, the now Hobart based bartender, is more passionate about the Trinidadian bitters and rum than ever before.
At the AGCC, which was held in Angostura’s birthplace, Trinidad, during the Carnival celebrations, Dan went head to head with 10 of the best and most creative bartenders from around the world.
The Winning Cocktails
For his first cocktail, the rum based ‘The Williams Flip’, Dan combined Angostura 7 YO Rum with pineapple juice, apricot brandy, vanilla palm sugar, as well as Angostura aromatic and orange bitters and a whole egg.
“The inspiration for The Williams Flip was bringing together one of my favourite eras in cocktail history, the 1700s, and combining that with one of my favourite modern cocktail styles, the Flip,” Dan said.
In his second drink, Dan used Amaro di Angostura, Oloroso Sherry, Pedro Ximinez, and Angostura aromatic bitters to create his Amaro cocktail, which he named ‘Like Father, Like Son’.
“This drink was an evolution for me, in which I combined my love of cooking and food with my passion to create the ultimate digestif. I wanted to showcase the amaro and the aromatic bitters as the stars of the drink, and to have them supported with the help of a soft, sharp goats cheese and quince.”
House of Angostura
Being in Trinidad during the Carnival festival and competing in what is arguably one of the toughest and most competitive cocktail challenges in the world is an experience that Dan will treasure for the rest of his life.
“My experience in Trinidad during the hype and excitement of Carnival, and having the privilege to compete as a finalist in Angostura’s Global Cocktail Challenge, is something I will never forget,” said Dan.
“It was a truly life-changing experience. Seeing the passion the island has for rum and for Angostura is pretty massive. The people who live there are extremely proud of the rum and the bitters they create. It was a humbling experience for me.”
Dan was able to visit the House of Angostura, where he learned about the history of the famed bitters, rum and amaro, and to uncover some of the secrets behind Angostura from its Master Distiller, John Georges.
“Angostura is an iconic brand. The yellow cap and oversized label make it stand out, and speaking as the Australian brand ambassador, I can say that throughout its 200 year history, Angostura rum and bitters have remained quintessential and definitive elements of many a classic and contemporary cocktail,” Dan said.
“Something I learned while visiting the House of Angostura, and meeting with Master Distiller, John Georges was that part of its success is that the recipe has remained unchanged for the past two centuries.
“The whole of the secret recipe for Angostura bitters, which features 52 ingredients, is known by just five people, while other staff and people who work for Angostura know only portions of the recipe,” said Dan.
With the role, Dan has been keeping local bartenders and consumers up to date with brand training, imparting knowledge and training programs, as well as designing new drinks and serves for the Angostura portfolio. He has also lead a series of events for House of Angostura including bar takeovers.
With his already known status within the industry, pairing the veteran bartender and House of Angostura is somewhat of a dream team, and the perfect person to share what he has learnt and how to utilise the Angostura range of products. Indeed, most bars around the world will stock Angostura aromatic bitters, the classic guarded recipe that is responsible for not only some of the world’s best known cocktails but also for the Australian famed classic drink, lemon, lime and bitters.
A spokesperson for Angostura said the company is proud to have someone of Dan’s pedigree representing it in Australia. “Dan is an exceptionally talented bartender. It’s easy to see just how passionate about food and drink he is, and to taste and watch the creativity of the cocktails Dan makes, we are proud to have him as the Australian Brand Ambassador.”
Dan’s passion for drinks and bartending was spawned from his first career as a chef, which he began at the ripe young age of 16. He was lured from the kitchen to the bar after witnessing the creativity bartenders have. “I saw how much potential there was, and how you could utilise creativity in cocktails and drinks.” Now in his early 30s, he has embraced the role with the House of Angostura, being able to put out what he has learnt over his journey in hospitality and being able to teach and inspire young bartenders.
Today, however, when he isn’t representing Angostura, you can find Dan working at the Piano Bar downstairs from Ettie’s.
Ettie’s is a restaurant in North Hobart where the upstairs French oriented restaurant has a focus on wine. Wander down the spiral staircase to the basement with no windows, sandstone walls and you’ll find a tiny little bar which is more like a bench style bar than a traditional bar, as Gregory puts it, “It’s like standing at your kitchen bench; there’s no real barrier between you and the clientele.”
The room holds a handful of people and there’s a side room with a baby grand piano that is played on weekends. What Dan loves about his role at Ettie’s is that the menu is designed around local produce, which is some of the highest quality. Dan says, “You can’t go past it in Tasmania, the local produce is readily available. You can even drive to some farms to pick up what you need. I’ve been doing a lot of fermenting as well. It’s interesting and a bit of a challenge for me as well. We show a bit of love to all spirit categories and styles of drinks and aren’t pigeonholing ourselves and people aren’t afraid to be adventurous with their drinks.
“Some of the bars down here definitely rival Melbourne and Sydney, and there are a lot of bartenders moving down to Tassie these days. It’s pretty chilled down here, which is just the way I like it.”
At Drinks World, we are definitely fans of that!
Dan’s Signature Drinks
Dan made two cocktails; one using Angostura’s award winning rum portfolio and the other using Amaro di Angostura, with both cocktails featuring Angostura’s iconic bitters range.
The Williams Flip
60ml Angostura 7 year old rum
60ml fresh pressed pineapple juice
15ml apricot brandy
20ml vanilla palm sugar (vanilla syrup)
3 dashes Angostura orange bitters
1 Whole egg
Method: Shaken with ice and strained
Like Father, Like Son
30ml Amaro Di Angostura
30ml Oloroso Sherry
10ml Pedro Ximenez Sherry
5ml Angostura aromatic bitters
Method: Stirred with ice and strained
For more information on House of Angostura, head to angostura.com