WORDS BY BEN DAVIDSON
This year at the annual Drinks World Australia’s T25 Bartenders Awards, we went a step further and awarded a Top Bartender as voted by the bartenders that made up our Top 25. Dan Gregory was a clear winner, receiving the most votes in a 3-2-1 format.
Dan Gregory is the man, the myth, the legend when it comes to drinks. Among his peers, he has the reputation for being the ‘silent assassin’ when it’s time to shine on the competition stage. Daniel is the House of Angostura Australian Ambassador and the reigning Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge Australian Champion, and is one of the industry’s most respected bartenders due to his ability to take flavour combinations to the next level as a result of his chef training and background. Having bartended in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, he is now plying his craft at Ettie’s in Hobart, and is part of the Tasmanian revolution making mainlanders sit up and take note.
After making our prestigious T25 Bartenders list for the third year running, and having lived and worked in more cities than most, Dan has broken down his career into a three part trilogy –
“Part I: Party by Night & Sleep by Day (The Brisbane years); Part II: The Homeboy Years (The Black Pearl years) and Part III: Escape from the Mainland (The getting out of Sydney years),” he jokes.
Regarding his surprise move to Hobart, he says he is inspired by the city and excited about its burgeoning hospitality scene.
“Hobart is seriously up-and-coming. Most people know about Dark Mofo, but there’s really great stuff going on here all the time. Some of the bars in Hobart would rival those in Melbourne and Sydney, and quite a few bartenders are moving down to Tasmania. It’s becoming a bit of a hotspot for hospitality,” Dan says.
“I think Hobart really fits with my values. It allows me to explore my creative side more. It’s all about amazing quality, natural and seasonal produce, which is so easy to get hold of – you can even drive to farms to pick up what you need. I’m making more cocktails in Hobart than I ever have before. I think that’s because Tasmanians love a good quality cocktail made with what’s in season and they’re more adventurous with their drinks.”
When asked about his secrets to success, Dan is quite unassuming. However, as with most successful people, there is a method to the ‘madness’.
“I’m not sure I have a secret as such,” he says. “When I’m competing, I’m really focused. I plan out my chat well in advance so I’m not worrying about what I’m going to say and can instead really concentrate on getting my drinks right.”
Dan has been working closely with the House of Angostura brands as their local ambassador after taking out the Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge in 2017, and he is vocal about his love of the brand.
“Everyone knows the yellow cap and oversized label of the iconic Angostura aromatic bitters, but fewer know that the House of Angostura has an amazing, award-winning rum range and an amaro,” he says.
“Angostura aromatic bitters have been around for 200 years, so it’s been at the creation of many of the cocktails we consider to be classic today, including the Pink Gin, Manhattan and Old Fashioned. Angostura aromatic bitters is the quintessential ingredient in all of them and I’ve always thought there’s something quite humbling about that.”
“My inspiration for my T25 cocktail was actually Amaro di Angostura, not the bitters. The amaro was voted Best New Spirit at Tales of the Cocktail in 2015 and I just love using it. I wanted to showcase some of the vegetal notes in the amaro by using beetroot and soften the finish with the citrus at the same time. A perfect afternoon sipper with friends and a great way to watch the sunset.”
Sunset Over Trinidad
By Daniel Gregory
50ml Amaro di Angostura
10ml Lime juice
10ml Grapefruit oleo saccharum
Topped with grapefruit and beetroot soda
GARNISH: Candied beetroot disc and lemon thyme
METHOD: Build the first three ingredients in a Highball glass and stir with a large rock of ice. Top with more ice and fill with soda almost to the top. Add a paper straw and garnish