The West End Magazine interviews Bacchus Head Bartender, Kal Moore for a taste of what it is like behind the bar.
What inspired you to become a mixologist?
I really hate that word. It makes my job seem so much more important than it actually is. I’ve heard ‘cocktail chef’ bandied around quite a bit as well. Really, all I do is play with alcohol in fun ways while chatting to people – it’s a creative outlet more than anything else. Sometimes it might seem elaborate or overly serious, but it really is, at its core, a fun job. I get to meet and chat to interesting people on a daily basis while getting them drunk. And, I’m in the position to be able to sell the booze that I like, which is another part of the job I like. What inspired me to do all of this? Just how enjoyable the job is – it’s so much more rewarding than a desk job, and I didn’t have to go to university to do it.
I’ve never won a competition, I’m ever the bridesmaid, never the bride. I have, however, placed in a few. Most recently I came third in the national final for the Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Whisky Competition that was held in Sydney last Monday. I’ve also placed in the best ten bartenders in the country for the past three years, and a few smaller comps here and there. The Laneway in the CBD was nominated as the Best Bar in last year’s Bar Awards while I was managing, but that’s probably as close to an award as I’ve gone personally. Canvas won Best New Bar at the Bar Awards in 2011 while I was working there, though.
What do you enjoy most about working in the Bacchus scene?
I think the scope of what Bacchus is trying to achieve is what attracts me to it. The sheer opulence of the venue’s fit-out speaks volumes to me in terms of what the owners are trying to accomplish, which gives me faith in the venue’s future. I expect Bacchus to be a big player in the city’s hospitality scene over the coming years, and being a part of that is rewarding.
Any personal favourite drink? Why?
I’m personally a beer drinker. When all your friends are bartenders, it seems impossible to walk away from any bar top in town without a shot in hand. Beer makes me drink slowly, and it usually tastes great with a shot of whisky (Jack Daniels shots anyone?). That being said, I love a cheeky pastis now and again, or the occasional Greyhound. I think in terms of mixed drinks, I’m most partial to the Prince of Wales cocktail, as it just has all the flavours that I like, and has an interesting history. Invented by Prince Albert Edward (King Edward VII) while he was galavanting around America waiting for Queen Victoria to die, it’s a mix of pineapple, rye whisky, bitters, maraschino liqueur and champagne. Delicious.
What was your most memorable moment as a mixologist? Any famous celebrity? Odd characters or requests?
Most memorable moment behind the bar? There haven’t really been any, and that’s not due to me not being capable of remembering, either. I think for the most part celebrities want to just blend in with everyone else, so I’ve never really made a big thing of serving any of the ones I have, and odd characters are what make the job exciting in the first place!
Why would you recommend Bacchus as a place to be in 4101?
We’re offering a service and a product that is almost un-paralleled in the area. No other venue has the range of services and products that we have to offer, and there are few in town who can compete with our fit-out. It’s unique.
Elaborate drinks? I tend to operate in the easy-to-make, easy-to-replicate realm of cocktail making. However, in a pinch, I’d say it was the cocktail I made for the 42 Below Cocktail World Cup. It was a pousse cafe (layered shot) with a twist. Basically, I removed egg yolks from a few eggs and created a reverse-sphereification mango and mandarine ‘yolk’ to replace them. I then cut the egg-white with lychee liqueur and elderflower liqueur and reassembled the eggs using a protein-glue. Then I thickened some 42 Below Passionfruit vodka with a bit of agar agar and added some maraschino liqueur. Then, I assembled the shot: a shot of the vodka, the mandarine and mango yolk over the top, then whisked the egg-white/liqueur mix to create a foam, and layered it on top. The idea was to have a drink that appeared to be nothing more than vodka and eggs, yet have a medley of fruit flavours that paired well with each-other and the next layer of the shot.
Any advice for aspiring mixologists?
Learn how to cook. Get excited about food, flavours and experimenting with what works well and what doesn’t. Then get excited about alcohol. Learn what you can, drink everything around you and go and work with someone who knows a lot more than you do.