Luke Whearty

LUKE WHEARTY

A cocktail and industry mastermind is coming home. After working in Singapore for almost 4 years, and receiving more than 10 awards in 3 years’ time, Luke Whearty is heading to his hometown Melbourne to open up his new project BYRDI. Luke is known as one of the most forward thinking persons in the Industry and his BYRDI bottles can already be found in bars around the world. With is mind set to focus on only local ingredients we can expect some of the most unique Australian cocktails to be found in Melbourne soon. Will he be recreating his mums homemade Baileys for his bar? One of Luke’s guilty pleasures…

Interview Luke Whearty

  1. What kind of education did you do before you ended up in the drinks industry?
    Went to Coffs Harbour High School in N.S.W and the went on to study a Bachelor of Psychology at Southern Cross Univeristy.
  2. What made you want to focus on the drinks industry?
    At first it was just a job that I found myself liking because I could work nights and then surf all day. Slowly the creative side of bartending and making drinks took over though and I decided to make a career out of it.
  3. Who is the person that inspired you the most?
    So many people to be honest but I would have to say my younger brother and my childhood friends. Growing up I was always surrounded by inspirational and creative people.
  4. Best cocktail book written?
    The Modern Cocktail by Matt Whiley
  5. Best Non-cocktail book you would advise everybody.
    Perfume, Story of a Murderer by Patrick Susskind.
  6. Which cocktail are you most proud of?
    Its actually a drink inspired by the above book called Perfume. It’s a gin based cocktail with lavender, citrus and distilled jasmine and it basically tastes and smells like fresh jasmine blossoms and is Spring in a glass. I love it because Jasmine is only blooming a few weeks a year so we only serve it during this time. Its gives us something to look forward to each Spring.
  7. What’s your favorite classic cocktail to drink?
    Americano
  8. What’s the most easy and tasteful drink to make and drink?
    Also the Americano.
  9. Favorite glass to drink from?
    Wine glass
  10. Why is a glass that important for a drink?
    The glass contributes so much to a drink. From aroma to even the feel of it in your hand it all influences the experience.
  11. Glass: Durable or Fragile?
    Hah hah as a bar owner I would say durable. As a customer I would say fragile.
  12. Glass: Classic and simple or outspoken?
    I think a bit of both. You can be outspoken but still remain classic and simple.
  13. Of which achievement are you most proud?
    The birth of my son Bronson.
  14. You’re going to open up a new bar soon in Melbourne; Byrdi. How is this bar going to be different than your other bars?
    I guess the biggest difference is it will be truly seasonal and have a strong sense of provenance. For example we may only use certain ingredients that are at their peak for a few weeks in the year. We will also be using a lot of different preservation techniques and using fermentation to our advantage to use things from previous seasons. Basically it will be a bar that you have to come and visit to experience because it wont be able to be replicated anywhere else.
  15. What style of cocktails will you be serving?
    We will be stripping things back quite a bit so in appearance the drink may seem simple but it will actually be quite complex. For example on of the drinks we are working on is simply called Apples & Pears and will be based entirely around those two ingredients but manipulated in a variety of ways such as being smoked, distilled, fortified and fermented all the while using specific varieties of fruit from local orchards.
  16. What style of glassware will you be using in your bar?
    Our glassware style will be quite minimalistic and understated to allow the liquid inside to really shine however there will be a strong focus on having glassware that not only compliments the drink aromatically but also offers something in terms of texture and how it feels in the hand.
  17. What is your main goal of your new bar?
    To showcase the amazing and diverse produce that we have here in Australia that is grown by the passionate farmers and producers that quite often don’t get the credit they deserve for their hard work.
  18. The most underestimated drink in the industry?
    It is possibly our greatest resource as a society and its importance is often underestimated. Also on a basic level in hospitality its surprising to me how often people don’t provide water to their guests. In my opinion it is an absolute must.
  19. What’s your guilty pleasure drink?
    Baileys, my mums homemade stuff though, not the commercial one.
  20. Which ingredient will be used far more in the future?
    Anything local. I think people are starting to shift their mentality in regards to exotic imported ingredients. Because of the nature of globalization these ingredients aren’t as exotic anymore as they are more readily accessible. People are going back to using what is growing around them and creating unique experiences around that.
  21. How will the current and future trends chance the current bar industry?
    I think as I said above. Using local and seasonal ingredients to create ever evolving and adapting menus that create unique experiences that cant be replicated in other parts of the world. People will be given a reason to explore again.
  22. What’s your opinion on the whole simplicity trend?
    The idea that less is more even though its kind of a trend at the moment its something that has been around for ages. A great example of this is the wabi sabi philosophy pioneered by Japanese tea masters as early is the 15th Which finds beauty in simplicity and imperfection.
  23. What your favorite bar to visit yourself?
    Here in Melbourne it is a bar called Above Board by Hayden Lambert. Internationally it is Scout in London by Matt Whiley.
  24. Which restaurant would you recommend to everybody?
    Here in Melbourne it is a restaurant called Lesa by chef Dave Verheul internationally Lyles in London by chef James Lowe.
  25. If you could go back in time and change any existing/classic cocktail glass, which glass would you change and why?
    If I had the ability to go back in time changing a cocktail glass would be the least of my concerns.
  26. If you could travel back in time, who would you like to meet and why?
    Id go back to meet myself to give the younger version of myself the heads-up on a couple of things.
  27. After simplicity and the non-alcoholic trend, what will be the next big thing?
    Local, local, local.

BIOGRAPHY

Luke Whearty & Aki Nishikura are bar operators, restaurant innovators and drink creators. Creativity is evident in everything they do, and they do it with passion. Between them they have over 20 years’ experience. And what an experience it’s been. They’ve travelled far and wide, each new place shaping them along the way, and ultimately leading to their latest venture, BYRDI.

There’s a bar on the horizon, and BYRDI bottled cocktails are already available in selected bars and restaurants.

Luke and Aki have travelled the world and gained a wealth of accolades along the way. They’re at the forefront of forward-thinking minds in the world of bartending, and have presided over some of the most progressive drinking programs.

Luke cut his teeth (so-to-speak) at the internationally acclaimed Der Raum, as head bartender, winning multiple awards.

2009 – Winner – Cocktail List of the Year, Australian Bartender Awards
2010 – Winner – Cocktail Bar of the Year, Australian Bartender Awards
2011 – Winner – Cocktail List of the Year, Australian Bartender Awards
2012 – Ranked No. 1 – World’s Best Bars
2012 – 3 Glass Rating – The Age Good Bar Guide

Luke then made the move to South East Asia where he worked alongside Chef Ryan Clift at the highly acclaimed Tippling Club. While Aki trained under her father Hiro Nishikura, at arguably Melbourne’s best traditional sushi restaurant, Shira Nui. Coming back together they joined forces again in Singapore opening Oxwell & Co in 2013, with celebrated chef Mark Sargeant. After establishing this as a mainstay in Singapore’s bar and restaurant scene, they went on to open a trail blazing cocktail bar by the name of Operation Dagger.

Created in a basement space, Operation Dagger is an experimental and innovative bar, pushing boundaries with new equipment, culinary influences and techniques. In its first few years of trade, it made waves around the world.

2015 – Winner – Best New Bar, Singapore Bar Awards
2015 – Top Ten – Best New Intl. Cocktail Bar, Tales of the Cocktail
2015 – Top 30 – Greatest Bars in the World, Conde Nast Traveller
2015 – 57th Best Bar in the World – Drinks International
2016 – Winner – Most Creative Cocktail Program, Singapore Bar Awards
2016 – 7th Best Bar in Asia – Asia’s 50 Best Bars
2016 – 21st Best Bar in the World – World’s 50 Best Bars
2017 – 6th Best Bar in Asia – Asia’s 50 Best Bars
2017 – 24th Best Bar in the World – World’s 50 Best Bars
2018 – Top Ten – Intl. Bartender of the Year, Luke Whearty, Tales of the Cocktail

2018 – Top Ten – Best Intl. Cocktail Bar, Tales of the Cocktail

B Y RD I (Melbourne, Australia)

Luke and Aki’s latest creation has taken them back to their hometown Melbourne, Australia. It’s still in the making opening soon in September 2019, but you can expect the local environment to inform the drinks at the new bar, and a concept that’s uniquely Australian. BYRDI bottled cocktails are already stocked in selected bars and restaurants, so get a taste of what’s to come, early.

Wilson Pires

Wilson Pires

“NEVER JUST CREATE, INSPIRE”

A Portuguese bartender that has been getting his recognition in the Bar industry -through his creative cocktail presentations, menus designs and the development of full bar concepts.

He is part of the Libbey family since we met him in 2014, as the winner of the Portuguese contests “Barman of the Year” and vintage which was sponsored by Libbey during Lisbon Bar Show. He participated in the second edition of Glassology by Libbey Design contest, where he reached the semi-finals. In Lisbon Bar Show in 2017, we invited him to perform a guest shift in the Libbey stand, where he created surprising and tasty cocktail combinations.

Wilson has been all over the world as a guest behind bars and lately traveling to learn more about the different cultures, meeting new people and exploring new gastronomies, to inspire and make the difference for people in his own community.

Following is the interview where you can read Wilson’s statement and bio.

1. What kind of education did you have before you ended up in the drinks industry?

I have a degree in Tourism

2. What made you want to focus on the drinks industry?

Like most part of the people from our industry, I also ended-up here by accident. I first started because I joined a Cruise Line company, where I could travel and work at the same time. During that period of time, I felt in love for this liquid art form, that is created to deliver so many good moments and smiles to my guests. So, I decide to work on becoming the best professional I could be and make my leaving from it.

3. Who is the person that inspired you the most?

I had the chance to work with incredible professionals and human beings. I would not be fair if I mention only one name, I would pick someone from a completely different industry that is an Idol for me: Sam the Kid. A Portuguese rapper that change his scene and is an inspiration for so many generations. I aspire to be like him in my industry someday.

4. Which moment in your career changed your life?

In 2014, when I won the competition ‘Barman of the Year’ in Portugal. In that moment, the cocktail scene was growing super-fast in Portugal and was lucky to be one of the faces of that change, together with so many other colleagues that I admire like Paulo Gomes, Sandro Pimenta, Zé Robertson, Emanuel Miñez and a few more great people.

5. Best cocktail book written?

I’m not a big fan of cocktail’s books … I read a lot, but not only with ‘cocktail focus’. If I need to pick-up something related with our industry, the service industry, I would name and recommend the ‘Be our Guest – Performing the art of customer service’ by Disney Institute itself. Because hospitality is the base of our job.

6. Best Non-cocktail book you would advise everybody?

‘Death with interruptions’ by the Noble Prized Portuguese writer José Saramago. Simply incredible.

7. Which cocktail are you most proud of?

More than the cocktail is the concept around it. Was made for a cocktail competition and is called ‘Trilogy’; where I would have 3 kinds of Classic Martinis (Vodka with a Twist, Gin Martini and Dirty Martini) in the same glass.
7.a. And which ingredients does it have?
Inside the glass a simple combination of a homemade ‘White Port Vermouth’ and Vodka. And outside the glass is where the magic happens. Three different dusts on the rim, side by side, one made out of Citrus (twist), Olives (dirty) and Juniper Berries (gin). That cocktail gave me the trophy and as prize, I got the opportunity to go to Ibiza for a few days. Not bad at all…

8. What’s your favourite classic cocktail to drink?

So many hard questions…ah…ah…ah. I can always enjoy a great Sweet Manhattan. And, because I always like to bring some Portuguese with me, I recommend you all to try it with a mid-sweet Madeira wine, instead of vermouth. It’s delicious.

9. What’s the most easy and tasteful drink to make and enjoy?

I would go with the same answer. Sweet Manhattan.

10. Favourite glass to drink from?

The one with a tasty drink inside. Ah…ah…ah

11. Why is a glass that is important for a drink?

Because it is the body of the soul that is the drink. You can use it to shape it, to highlight something, or hide its imperfections.

12. Glass: Durable or Fragile?

Durable. I’m too clumsy for fragile glassware.

13. Glass: Classic and simple or outspoken?

Outspoken for sure.

14. Why have you been traveling lately around the world? What do you hope to learn with these travels?

My goal with these travels is to learn more about different cultures, meet new people and explore new gastronomies.

15. You are often using the #neverjustcreateinspire. Why?

Because my goal in live isn’t to create something that will turn me into to the best bartender ever, neither to win all the prizes in the world. I want to have a chance to inspire people by making the difference in my community. I want to change people’s lives by sharing with them my experience and make them better professionals and human beings. I want to have this idea shared among a large group of people, so that they can keep going with it and help other people turning our industry, community, country, world a better place to be.

16. When you finish the traveling, what is the next step?

I have a lot of ideas in my mind, but I don’t know when that time will come.

17. What style of cocktails you prefer to serve?

It doesn’t really matter to me. That is a time, place and people for everything. More than a style, I like to think about strange combinations and surprise people. But not always, not everywhere, not for everybody.

18. What type of glassware has your preference?

I like something that can be elegant, simple and outspoken, all together.

19. Is there any glass style you consider that is missing in the market? Which one and why?

You need to wait for my registration for the next ‘Glassology’. Ah…ah…ah

20. You often use other type of recipients (not glassware) to make your cocktails. Why?

I always like to develop conceptual drinks/menus. It’s not better or worse than the other styles, is just what I like. So, the recipes, the vessel, the inspiration, the way how is served, everything is part of something bigger and need to make sense all together. That is the reason. Like I said, the body (glass) need to represent the soul (cocktail).

21. As you know, we have a glassware contest in Libbey that you already participate. What is your general opinion about it, since the main purpose is to create your own glass?

I loved it. It’s a fantastic way to invite bartenders to think about different bar’s aspects, that a lot of times we have them for taken and we don’t really believe we can make our own design.

22. The most underestimated drink in the industry?

Old Fashioned. It’s simple that a lot of bartenders don’t understand its balance and a lot of time taste terrible because there is no focus on its creation.

23. What’s your guilty pleasure drink?

A delicious Miami Vice toped-up with champagne. You can’t beat that! Ah…ah…ah

24. Which drink you prefer when not drinking any alcohol?

I drink a lot of tea. Now, in Brazil, I drink a lot of fresh coconut water as well.

25. Which ingredient will be used far more in the future?

I need to pick an entire category for this answer: Super foods.

26. How will the current and future trends change the existing bar industry?

The awareness of our guests about the problems that the alcohol of poor quality can bring, as well as the consumption of this one in big amounts, are leading the consumers for a different kind of drinking. Less quantities but with more quality.

27. What’s your opinion on the whole simplicity trend?

It is what it is. In all kinds of arts, we’ve seen this happening. From painting to music and architecture. How should this art form be different? I believe that the most important thing is that everybody finds the style they prefer, learn it, improve it and share it with everybody so we can all grow and learn together

28. What your favourite bar to visit yourself? Not being one of your own?

I love bars where I can have a nice drink, food and good talk. One of my favourite bars in the world is Tales & Spirits, in Amsterdam. I know, I worked there, and I loved it!

29. Which restaurant would you recommend to everybody?

I’ll Gallo D’oro in Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal. Was probably the best meal I had this year.

30. If you could go back in time and change any existing/classic cocktail glass, which glass would you change and why?

I think glass designs have been developed for many, many centuries. A cocktail glass is just a reflection of what generations of people have been using to drink. They’ve been thought for so long… Who am I to change it?
Plus, they’ve been changing year by year, but in the end the essence is always the same.

31. If you could travel back in time, who would you like to meet and why?

I would love to meet Julio Cesar, the Roman imperator, to have a chance to see next to him a fight at the Colosseum. I know, it wasn’t something pretty, and I’m not a martial art sports guy myself, but I can’t even imagine the energy of that place in a moment like that! Should be surreal.

32. After simplicity and the non-alcoholic trend, what will be the next big thing?

I think the next trend will be focused on service. How to turn our work more interactive with the guest and really make them be part of the experience.

33. Best advice you can give to young bartenders?

Don’t be focused in making delicious drinks, learn how to be e good person for your family, friends, colleagues. Learn how to treat and host people and if you work hard the rest will happen to you naturally.

Wilson Pires
Bartender
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wilson.inpires/