Australian Hotelier April 2024

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8 Cover Story: Looking for another tequila cocktail to add to your drinks list?

1800 Tequila and Fever-Tree have you covered with the Paloma.

10 The Nostalgia Trend: Moving away from cookie-cutter spaces, the most innovative pub designs are being influenced by different eras in our past.

14 Redevelopment: The Pub Group Tamworth’s Southgate Inn makes over its gaming room and sports bar.

18 Venue Profile: With a capacity of 40 people, The Magpie in Enmore is one of the tiniest pubs in the country.

22 F&B Strategy: Solotel’s food and beverage director, Joshua Hillary, discusses the group’s renewed focus on the customer experience.

I’VE NOTICED over the past 12 months that there’s been this very cool emerging trend in pubs, where both the design of spaces and menus have really leant on nostalgic cues. You get these spaces where it looks like you’ve just travelled in time back into the 1980s or 1930s etc. For me, these kinds of wistful plays on nostalgia make sense in difficult periods of time. Basically, these spaces invite you to leave your worries at the door, and pretend for a few hours that you’re back in a golden era without pandemics, economic instability etc.

26 Gastropub Profile: Expat Alex Derrick returns to Brisbane with an authentic London-style pub, the Rose & Crown.

30 Vegan Cuisine: Australia’s first all-vegan pub brings out the best in pub grub.

32 Native Ingredients: Hunt Hospitality has collaborated with Indigenous suppliers on dishes that hero local produce.


6 News: What’s happening in pubs across Australia.

34 Design & Build: Parker Group brings artistic flair and local landscape influences to The Busselton Pavilion.

38 Tales from the Top: The Espy’s Kevin Peters on collaborating with brands on exclusive products.

Editor’s Note Next Month

Chris Loukakis, head of strategy at Example, has another theory which also resonates: that this trend towards nostalgic spaces is in fact a rebellion against the cookie-cutter design trends of the early 2000s, that’s left many pub spaces all looking the same. These new spaces

scream point of difference in a very obvious way, and inject some immediate personality into a venue, which is becoming an important distinguishing factor for venues. We’ve got a great feature on the nostalgic trend (see p 10), but this issue is chock-full with examples of venues that are rejecting your standard offer and bringing something authentic to the table – from the tiny Magpie in Sydney (p 18), to a faithful London gastropub in Brisbane (p 26), to the new Busselton Pavilion in WA that’s mixing local art and maritime influences (p 34), all to tremendous results.


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Contents Ed’s Pick
Vanessa Cavasinni, Editor E:
➤ Beer and Cellar ➤ Better-For-You Beverages ➤ Construction and Renovation 4 | Australian Hotelier


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Momento Hospitality opened Hills

Distilling Co., a small-batch distillery and bar in Rouse Hill, last month with a focus on producing gin, vodka and Australian white malt.

The small-batch distillery is a labour of love for Momento Hospitality’s beverage team, with the idea borne out of the covid era.

“Opening a distillery in Rouse Hill is driven by our mission: to foster memorable experiences and forge lasting connections within our community,” stated Hills Distilling Co. general manager Mirza Baig.

“Our commitment to educate, entertain, innovate, and uphold quality standards ensures Hills Distilling Co. is an immersive experience. From learning about the raw ingredients to savouring the final product, we like to take the local community on a journey. It’s about cherishing moments, forging connections, and celebrating the spirit of our community.”

The ethos for the distillery focuses on handcrafted excellence, using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The gin, Article no.9, is led by juniper’s evergreen profile, intertwined with cascara berries, coriander seed, pepper berries and wattle seed.

The Australian white malt is made in partnership with neighbouring local brewery, Australian Brewing Co. Doublepot distilled from a bespoke Amber ale recipe, the amber malts create a chocolatey silkiness, and the distinctive biscuity character of German rye elegantly merges with a light caramel sweetness.

Adding to the bespoke nature of the small-batch production, every bottle is filled, polished, and packed at the distillery and signed with a mark from the maker who bottled it.

Encompassing a bar as well, the design of the venue was led by architectural firm Archebiosis, with a brief to keep it functional and industrial. The venue comprises the mezzanine level with tanks for blending and a selection of barrels for ageing different products.

On the ground floor is the Cellar Door with bar, retail space and tasting table for groups of six. Gin tastings will be held every Friday. with a selection of premium mixers and unique cocktails complemented by a rotating menu of handmade dumplings by chef Sebastian Tan from JINJA.

An open plan seating area has tables for up to 12 guests and barrels for up to 10 standing, where you can book in

on Thursdays, 3 – 6pm, and experience

Gin production with guided tours of the production space, or gin-making masterclasses. During the masterclasses snack on Italian bites such as cheese and charcuterie by Chef Alex Keene from Sarino’s.

Hills Distilling Co. is the first opening of the year for Momento Hospitality, which is currently completing construction on the highly anticipated Oran Park Hotel in south-western Sydney. In a social media post update, the group stated that the ground floor of the sizeable hotel will be opened mid-year, encompassing a main bistro and lounge, function spaces, kids playground, a central courtyard and all-weather outdoor terrace, a pizzeria, sports bar, bottleshop and car park with a dog wash.

The second stage of the Oran Park Hotel build is expected to be completed later in the year, consisting of the upper levels of the hotel. These levels include more function space, boutique cinemas and a Jinja rooftop bar – following on from the success of Jinja restaurant at The Governor Hotel in Macquarie Park.

Archebiosis Architects are also working on Oran Park Hotel, with the build handled by Versatile Construction.

6 | Australian Hotelier NEWS


The Good Times Pub Group has reinvented an iconic Gold Coast pub in a new location within Southport’s Queen Street Village, a new centrally located retail precinct.

The original Queen’s Arm Hotel was opened by Frederick Fass in 1878 on the corner of Davenport and Nerang Streets. The new iteration of the Queen’s Arms Hotel, also known as The QA Southport, has a contemporary design, with cosy industrial elements like exposed brick.

Response to the venue has been positive, according to Damien Stephen, Good Times Pub Group general manager.

“We’re overwhelmed with the great response by locals who have been calling out for a venue like this to be brought to life in Southport. We are really proud of The QA,” he said.

The QA Southport features a relaxed alfresco dining area and a large brasserie serving a modern Australian menu. Headed by Rob Pickett, the kitchen is serving up dishes such as tavern style pizzas, barbeque ribs, and beer battered coral trout.

The 360-degree sports bar features a large TV screen, which the group believe to be the largest in Southport. Additionally, the gaming room includes state-of-the-art equipment with TAB facilities.

Stephen said that there are plans to continue to expand the offerings at The QA Southport.

“We have some exciting additions coming in the future, including Vic’s Lane, which will be an outdoor cocktail and beer garden, major event activations within the precinct, and the expansion of our gaming facilities.”

April 2024 | 7 NEWS

The Paloma’s popularity on the rise

THE BELOVED Margarita has introduced many Aussies to tequila in the last couple of years, and with knowledge comes an appetite for expansion. Enter the Paloma, another tequila-based cocktail on the rise in the Australian on-premise scene.

“Tequila is so much more than Margaritas and shots, and that’s reflected by the fact that the Paloma is actually Mexico’s most popular cocktail, even over the Margarita,” explains a Proximo Spirits representative.

“We’re also seeing a rise in demand in the Australian On-Premise for the Paloma; the pink grapefruit soda pairs expertly with 1800 Blanco Tequila and a dash of lime to deliver a refreshing and citrus flavoured cocktail.”

To bring the Paloma to more venues and patrons across the country, two esteemed brands – 1800 Tequila and Fever-Tree –have partnered up on the optimal Paloma serve that’s a premium, refreshing and versatile option.

1800 Tequila is the world’s most awarded tequila range, with over 200 years of family expertise distilled into every drop. The year 1800 was the first time tequila was aged in oak barrels. 1800 Tequila celebrates this date: the moment when tequila first broke with conventions and did something differently to get the liquid to a smoother, more characterful place.

To this day, 1800’s Master Distiller selects only the very best oak woods to comprise the smooth characteristic taste of the 1800 range of 100 per cent blue agave tequila. 1800 Tequila is an accessible luxury for consumers and offers them an easy step up into a brand with style and credentials. 1800 Tequila helps consumers who are interested in discovering the tequila category, by offering them experiences and products of award-winning quality

1800 Tequila was also named ‘OnPremise Spirit of the Year’ at the 2023 Australian Liquor Industry Awards (ALIAs).

Fever-Tree has spent 10 years at the top of its category, producing premium mixers using natural ingredients without artificial sweeteners or flavours. Fever-Tree has been named the Best Mixer at the ALIAs for the last decade, as well as being named the Top Trending and Best Selling Mixer Brand ten years in a row for the world’s best bars, by Drinks International.

The Pink Grapefruit Soda, used in the Paloma, is made with real grapefruit juice with Champagne carbonation. The soda strikes a delicate balance between bitterness and sweetness.

“Fever-Tree Pink Grapefruit Soda adds complexity, freshness, and a burst of citrus flavour to the Paloma, making it a standout

1800 Tequila and Fever-Tree have teamed up on an easy-to-make and accessible Paloma to add to your drinks list.

choice for this classic cocktail,” states Steve Carr, Fever-Tree’s trade marketing manager.

With three ingredients and a garnish, adding this Paloma to your pub’s repertoire is an easy way to both satisfy Margarita lovers looking for something different, as well as entice patrons new to the tequila category with a refreshing and accessible cocktail.

1800 Tequila and Fever-Tree Mixers are available nation-wide, and the Paloma is an easy to make and serve drink for a wide range of venues.

Contact your Proximo Spirits Representative or info@proximospirits. com and your Fever-Tree representative or to order.


This deliciously refreshing drink using top-quality ingredients can be made in no time at all!


50ml 1800 Blanco Tequila

120ml Fever-Tree Pink Grapefruit

5ml lime Juice


Combine all ingredients in a tall glass with ice. Serve with a wedge of lime or grapefruit. It’s as simple as that!

8 | Australian Hotelier COVER STORY

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In a rebellion against cookie-cutter design styles
Molly Nicholas explores how the nostalgia trend has evolved from a personal sentiment to a strategic tool.

LOOKING TO societal trends, the resurgence of nostalgia has emerged as a prominent theme in recent years, and its prevalence in the pub market speaks to a broader cultural phenomenon.

Popping up in every facet of pubs, from classic décor to retro-inspired dishes and drinks offering a taste of bygone eras, the phenomenon is weaving its way into modern hospitality. Perhaps it is the comforting familiarity of evoked memories, or the timeless magic of comfort foods, but the trend is captivating patrons across generations.

While a retro resurgence is happening here and now, Chris Loukakis, head of strategy at creative agency Example, believes the trend is driven by some interesting forces dating back many years.

“There was a big series of renovations that happened in pubs around the turn of the millennium, effectively driven by globalisation. We got access to cheaper materials, cheaper products and new building methodologies, so renovations became easier, and for publicans who couldn’t afford to renovate all that frequently it suddenly became accessible.”

At this time, a few key renovation styles set a trend for the pub market, and Loukakis believes this resulted in a generic style of pub fit-out.

“Pubs lost their distinction and differentiation,” he added. “Everything ended up the same, and I think that this interest in nostalgia is a rejection of that, a rebellion to it. People are saying, ‘what did we have before everything looked and tasted the same?’

“And it’s not just in pubs, it’s a broader trend across all markets. People are looking back to a period before everything was whitewashed and grey, they’re looking for a more interesting past.”

10 | Australian Hotelier DESIGN


Loukakis notes several pubs that have successfully tapped into their own history, such as The Beach Hotel in Mereweather and attached fish and chippery Larrie’s, which encapsulate the town’s surf culture of the 70s and 80s.

The Bob Hawke Beer & Leisure Centre by Hawke’s Brewing Co is another of the venues that Loukakis praises for its unique approach to nostalgia. Situated in the Sydney suburb of Marrickville, the neighbourhood pub pays homage to the halcyon days of 1980s Australia.

Hawkes Brewing Co co-founder Nathan Lennon says the venue was designed to create a deeper, immersive brand experience, unpacking the nostalgic elements of the brand through its hospitality offering.

“Ultimately, it’s about authentic storytelling that’s not just tied in with Bob Hawke, but a unique, culturally significant moment in time, where we give guests the chance to spend their leisure-time the way they did through the 1980s,” he says.

The venue is quintessentially 80s in both its aesthetic and menu, and Lennon saw every piece of the fit-out as an opportunity to tell a story, from the choice of texture to the more intricate elements that provoke real memories.

He says the most literal expression of the period is in the Pool Room, which doubles as a museum of Bob Hawke and tells the Australian story through memorabilia.

“He was an everyman Aussie, who enjoyed everyman Aussie pastimes – sports, BBQs, sunbaking, sinking beers at the pub. These are the very things that endeared him to Australians and allowed for a genuine connection to happen,” he says.

Although older generations connect most deeply with the venue, Lennon says the aesthetic appeals to a broad demographic and attracted 100,000 unique visitors in its first year.

“We wanted the Beer & Leisure Centre to feel welcoming and inclusive, regardless of age, gender, tastes and interests. A place where guests feel safe, have fun and have their curiosities piqued.

“This is certainly the case with the younger crowd – they might not have been around in the 80s but they appreciate the authenticity in design and experience,” he added.

Warren Livingstone, owner of Highclere Hospitality, tells a similar tale about the Australian Hotel McGraths Hill, which also journeys back to 80s Australiana.

The Australian Hotel leans into 1980s Australiana
April 2024 | 11 DESIGN
The Bob Hawke Beer & Leisure Centre by Hawkes Brewing

“When I walked into the pub before I purchased it, I thought I was in a time warp. It was an old red brick interior with plastic seats like you’d find in a country hospital waiting room. I was struck by how 80s it all felt, and the interiors kind of went from there.”

Not merely replicating the past, Livingstone’s pub reimagines the era with contemporary contexts, which can be seen in the fusion of modern elements and older relics.

“We wanted to replace the old officestyle ceiling with some nice timber panels. I eventually found a guy out that way that made coffins and we discussed creating these timber wood panels that were good for acoustics as well as aesthetically attractive,” says Livingstone.

“I am an avid collector of original Australian pub mirrors and paintings, and

although many of these paintings predated the 1980s, I still introduced them to breathe some authenticity into the venue.”


The nostalgia trend is drawing people to pubs, but it goes beyond the aesthetics, it extends to the menu as well.

At the newly opened Busselton Pavilion in Western Australia, the gastro-pub packages nostalgia in a trendy way, and Parker Group CEO John Parker illustrates the importance of carrying this element through to the F&B offering.

“Nostalgia isn’t just a passing trend, it’s a timeless element that resonates with people. At Busselton Pavilion, our goal was to incorporate that feeling into our food and beverage offering, whilst delivering contemporary tastes,” he says.

At the helm of Parker Group creative

Is nostalgia here to stay?

While nostalgia as a creative lever is fairly broad, Loukakis believes geographical history and localisation will ensure longevity of the trend, and avoid creating a new genre of generic renovation styles.

“Nostalgia as a whole will never fade, ultimately, it’s about our longing for an imagined version of the past and it’s a sociocultural phenomenon that exists everywhere. In terms of nostalgia as a trend in hospitality, what will stick long term is pubs and venues being individualistic and honouring their past,” he says.

“The honest story of Australia is that it is a country of migrants and pockets of different migrant groups. The Australian story is a story of clashes of culture, and that’s a nostalgia to tap into.”

culinary director Brendan Pratt, Busselton Pavilion’s menu evokes a sense of familiarity, taking inspiration from childhood favourites and pub feed classics, with dishes such as prawn toast, French onion dip, and roast chicken rolls with gravy.

“We find that guests appreciate the clear understanding of the menu, naturally drawn to dishes that evoke memories through taste. By blending old favourites with modern twists, the pub works to create an eating and drinking experience that resonates with patrons on a personal level, inviting them to lean into the

12 | Australian
Larrie’s at The Beach Hotel is reminiscent of 70s and 80s beach kiosks Hotelier

nostalgia of the past while enjoying the present,” added Parker.

Similarly, The Bob Hawke Beer & Leisure Centre rounds out its hospitality experience with a nostalgia-soaked Chinese-Australian bistro, the Lucky Prawn.

“Honestly, is there anything more Australian than a country-town Chinese restaurant or bistro?,” asks Lennon. “The sheer popularity and geographical reach of Chinese-Australian restaurants are one of our proudest cultural proof points of successful assimilation of Chinese migrants into Australia. It’s part of our collective story.”

While it was this element of storytelling that influenced the decision to delve into Chinese-Australian cuisine, Lennon says it was also a deliberate commercial decision to make the venue a destination, rather than relying on high foot traffic.

“We needed to deliver a food offering that would attract planned visits of bigger groups who would feel comfortable investing in a longer, deeper, more premium experience with a larger spendper-head average.”


Whether it’s cocktails such as the Martini that have stood the test of time, or modern twists on classic serves, nostalgia plays are becoming commonplace in drinks menus.

Representing the first stage of a multimillion-dollar renovation for the four-story Republic Hotel in Sydney, INNA Lounge is a new late-night cocktail bar that leans into nostalgia, harking back to the art deco period of the 1930s and using iconic Australian ingredients.

Rory Gallagher, group general manager for Virtical, which owns the Republic Hotel, says the cocktail menu focuses on playful nostalgia, as opposed to replicating the era exactly.

“James Russell, our group beverage manager, looked at the period of the 1930s and the large scale service production methods that were taken on

after World War I. At that time, Australia was very inventive and produced staple brands that still fill our cupboards today, which we wanted to put our own twist on.

The cocktail menu incorporates ingredients such as Arnott’s biscuits, served with the Biscuit Tin cocktail, a tropical and refreshing peach cobbler, while Australia’s much-loved Milo is incorporated into the Mayne Meal, a playful take on the Espresso Martini.

With fun classics like the Pinã Colada finding popularity once again, Parker says the best way to introduce retro cocktails to patrons is to make them approachable, and in the South West, he says that beachy, crushable cocktails are hitting

the spot for locals and tourists alike.

“People get excited when they see something they are familiar with, whether it evokes a memory or an experience, and adding the right amount of creative flair gives the cocktails uniqueness without being too intimidating and out there.”

As the trend of nostalgia continues to permeate pub culture, patrons are embracing more than a familiar drinking environment, but a journey back in time. As consumers seek out familiar themes and retro aesthetics in everything from venue design to F&B, the allure of the good old days offers respite from the uniformity of today.

April 2024 | 13 DESIGN
The Mayne Meal incorporates Milo into an espresso martini at The Republic Hotel
14 | Australian
A massive LED wall dominates the new sports bar

Game on

Fresh look, same passion

SPORTING HAS always been a major attraction in regional towns, and Tamworth in New South Wales is no different, fortunate enough to have world-class community facilities in everything from NRL to hockey and basketball.

For many of Tamworth’s residents, the sports bar at the Southgate Inn becomes a home away from home during winter, ensuring a successful trading period for the pub even through the colder months.

“Sports for us is a massive thing in this town,” says Craig Power, director of The Pub Group, which owns the Southgate Inn and four other pubs and bars in Tamworth.

“A lot of people like to watch sports during the winter periods, and we’re fortunate enough

Traditionally, Australian fixtures have always been of interest to patrons of the Southgate Inn, such as rugby league, rugby union, netball, hockey, and even water polo. Although international sports took a dip post-pandemic, Power says Tamworth locals are showing renewed interest.

“The popularity, after Covid, of American sports has come back. Basketball had a lull for some time after the Jordan era, and now it’s really bounced back. American basketball is really popular, and NFL is really popular.

“To have a sports bar, in particular the Southgate which has two massive screens in two separate parts of the business, is a really big advantage for those types of events, when you have things like the Super Bowl and NBA games on.”

to have really strong business during winter because of winter sports, and the support of the sporting clubs and fixtures that we as hoteliers sponsor.”

With sports fans in mind, both the sports bar and gaming room at the Southgate Inn have been brought to life through a recent renovation, making it the most up-to-date sports and gaming offering that Tamworth has seen for quite some time.

The gaming room, sports bar, and bistro previously occupied one area, and the impetus for the renovation was to maximise the space within the venue.

“We had a larger bar area that wasn’t getting much use, so by moving the gaming room over into that unused space and creating

Molly Nicholas explores how a sports bar and gaming room makeover is winning over fans at the Southgate Inn.
April 2024 | 15
The new gaming room at Southgate Inn is a brighter space than before
I think there’s a bit of a movement towards lightening and brightening gaming rooms a little bit more, so you don’t feel that it’s a dark place where you need to come and hide.
Craig Power, The Pub Group

a larger sports bar, it has increased revenue and interest and creates a new feature for the town,” says Power.

“With the sports bar we were able to make it a lot larger within the space that we already had, but also add an outdoor alfresco veranda as well, and from there you can now overlook the local rugby club and pool. We’ve been able to open up the whole building to give it a better view and make it more spacious.”

Behind the blueprint

One of the main considerations for the redesign of the venue, particularly the gaming room, was to lighten the space, which is illustrative of what Power sees to be a growing trend in the pub market.

Breathing new life into the venue, the expansive sports bar offers a fresh palate that flows into the outdoor seating area, and the gaming room also offers an indoor-outdoor element with a skylit wall of foliage lining the room.

“I think there’s a bit of a movement towards lightening and brightening gaming rooms a little bit more, so you don’t feel that it’s a dark place where you need to come and hide,” says Power.

With sports being a focal point of the pub, LED screens have been installed throughout the venue, while the sports’ balls adorning the top of the bar give a nod to the pub’s clientele. The refurbishment of the space, which was self-managed by hospitality heavyweight Power and The Pub Group,

really hones in on the entertainment element of the pub experience.

“We came up with most of the concepts ourselves. Being publicans, we do a lot of travel, and we visit a lot of venues throughout New South Wales, Australia, and even overseas. We are fortunate enough to come back with enough of our own ideas to get designs down on paper and work with project managers to get it completed,” Power said.

“We worked with Bill Smith from Design Group, who did all the cabinetry which was great. We’ve added high benches in between each of the games so that the customer has good access to their beverage, or whatever our offer is in that area.

“For Tamworth, it’s the first fully serviced gaming room that any hotel has done in the region. It’s a first, and we’ve had so many great comments from other industry associates in the town. It’s a nice change for Tamworth, and we’ll keep moving forward that way with our other venues,” he added.

While the high standard of refurbishment has been recognised by industry peers, it’s also been a hit with Tamworth locals and sports fans.

“We haven’t had one negative comment, everything has been so positive,” Power says. “It’s important to freshen up your energy every now and then. It gives you longevity, and it gives your customers what they deserve and see in other spaces around the industry. It’s been overwhelming the response that we’ve got.”

16 | Australian Hotelier
The Southgate Inn gaming room is the only full-service gaming room in Tamworth

Small pub, big impact

With a comfortable capacity of 30 people, small bar operator Pasan Wijesena and his partners have opened The Magpie, the smallest pub in inner Sydney.

ONE OF the defining features of a pub is it’s size. Generally, they are standalone buildings with multiple rooms, that can easily fit hundreds of people. But The Magpie, a new venue on Enmore Road in one of Sydney’s special entertainment precincts, is decidedly a pub, even though it can only comfortably hold 30-40 people, and is technically a part of the same license as the adjacent venue, The Trocadero Room. Both venues were just opened by small bar operator Pasan Wijesena (Earl’s Juke Joint, Jakoby’s Tiki Bar) and his bar partners.

The Magpie is a nod to the traditional public bar at larger pubs, and leans on nostalgic Australiana in its aesthetic. A green-tiled bar with wooden bar top sits in one car, while dark timber stools and high tables sit atop dark green patterned carpet, and cream-coloured tiles line the bottom half of the walls. Aussie sporting memorabilia covers the top half of the walls.

“We didn’t want to over-complicate it, we just wanted to keep it simple. The beauty of it is that you could walk in or pass the windows and know exactly what it is. People really resonate with the space because we’ve all grown up with these kinds of hubs,” stated Wijesena.

Pasan Wijesena (right), and his venue partners
18 | Australian Hotelier ENTERTAINMENT
The Magpie’s very own dark ale, by Grifter Brewing Co.

A pub offer

While the space may be small, Wijesena says The Magpie’s offer makes it a pub rather than a small bar.

“Looking at the beverage breakdown, it’s 90 per cent beer sales. It’s fitting into that narrative of go there, have a pint, chat with friends, watch the game. People are there with their dogs. It very much operates like a pub.”

While Wijesena and his team approach The Magpie with a small bar sensibility, there are different considerations for their pub venue. While at their bars, beer makes up less than 10 per cent of bar sales, at The Magpie that is flipped on its head, making the attention on the coolroom and beer lines a bigger focus. The venue is also working on collaborations with local brewers, as part of its offer, including an Old Magpie dark ale with Grifter Brewing Co. With a focus on local craft beer, collaborations and partnerships are also in the works with Hawke’s Brewing, Philter and Drink West.

The other big focus at The Magpie is live sport. There’s always a fixture playing, and if there’s nothing live to show, then classic matches are broadcast. The sport offer also means that the Magpie is busy at times when Wijesena’s bars are a little quieter.

“Thursday night is typically a quieter night in some of the other bars but in The Magpie with the footy on it’s quite busy. If there’s Swans game on or the UFC on a Sunday afternoon, then we’re really busy.”

While a Foxtel subscription handles the majority of the entertainment at The Magpie, there’s one other retro offer that the team puts on – a retro movie of the week, harkening back to the days of video rental stores – think The Castle or Fifth Element played on a loop.

All of these elements have made The Magpie pack quite the punch for such a small local.

“It’s definitely over-performing based on the first few weeks, it’s selling a lot of beer. And just generally, I think people like the casual simpleness of the venue,” states Wijesena.

“There’s a lot of locals and little groups of friends coming like multiple times a week. So it’s becoming that local hangout.”

April 2024 | 19 ENTERTAINMENT
Images by Christopher Pearce
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The new pub bringing an authentic London gastropub offer to Brisbane

Foodservice Inspiration For Your Pub April2024 UPGRADING THE DINING EXPERIENCE A chat with Solotel’s new food and beverage director
The new produce-led menu at Garden Bar and Grill at The Bank Hotel, Newtown.
22 | Australian
Photography by Daniella Braude Hotelier

Upgrading the dining experience

Joshua Hillary, Solotel’s first food and beverage director, talks about the group’s strategies and focus, six months into his new role.

JOSHUA HILLARY’S background made him the perfect candidate for Solotel’s first ever food and beverage director – he spent five years in upper management roles in the Rockpool Group in Melbourne, before turning his attention to pubs in South Australia as director of operations for Duxton Hospitality Services. His knowledge of both the pubs and restaurants world were a winning combo when it came to tackling the overarching F&B strategy of the Solotel group.

“Solotel has got a really awesome portfolio of strong, established brands in its restaurants, and then it’s got a really amazing portfolio of diverse pubs that range from late night to outer suburban, that resonate with a really cool cross section of demographics,” suggested Hillary.

“And I think it was a real sweet spot for me because I can draw on my experience from both of those worlds and bring it all together.”

The creation of the role signifies Solotel’s intention cement it’s reputation in its markets as an industry leader for the long-term.

“I think there’s a lot more opportunity to rework and shake up what was going on [within the organisation]. But also the aim was setting the business up for the next three to five years to work out, how can we continue to grow? How can we get back to full strength in the post-COVID world that puts us as venues of choice or the organisation choice for our guests?” poses Hillary.

New projects

Hillary got his first taste of operations straight off the bat, assisting with the opening of Chez Blue – the French bistro opened at The Sackville Hotel – at the tail end of that project, assisting the F&B team, and tweaking the offer.

“It was a great opportunity for me to see how the

organisation works in projects. Very calm, cool and collected group of people to be around which was quite reassuring.”

The latest project Hillary has had a hand in – again, one that was started prior to his appointment – was the creation of the new Garden Bar and Grill at The Bank Hotel in Newtown. The al fresco space had a refresh, and a new menu offer was launched, focused on produceled, wood-fired cooking that encourages shared, social dining experiences.

While the project had been initiated before Hillary began at Solotel, his role was to finesse the offer so that it didn’t alienate pub patrons by being too formal.

“I just had a hand in getting the marriage right between this is still a pub, we’re not trying to be a restaurant, it’s not table service, it’s meant to be casual and accessible. But I think it’s a really good example that a pub offer doesn’t need to be fancy to be good. You can still offer really good quality food products and keep people engaged in the right way.

Considering the social nature of pub dining was also a big consideration when finessing the new Garden Bar and Grill offer.

“It’s a very accessible and sociable way to dine. Very rarely do you go to the pub by yourself, people tend to use the pub as a bit of a meeting place, to celebrate occasions. And I think one of the things about pub dining that can be a bit challenging is that your big table of 12 have all ordered schnittys and you’ve got eight of them, and you’re still waiting for the last four to come from the kitchen.

“So how do we take away that pain point? This kind of shared menu helps with that, and gives people another reason to come back to dine, instead of just going to the pub to watch the footy, there’s actually a reason to come out on date night or bring your family and use the space quite differently.”

April 2024 | 23 STRATEGY
A pub offer doesn’t need to be fancy to be good. You can still offer really good quality food products and keep people engaged in the right way.

Drilling down on guest experience

Another big focus for Hillary and the senior Solotel team is guest experience – so much so that Hillary is currently in the middle of appointing a guest experience manager who will be the third pillar of his team, besides group chefs and group beverage staff. With a dedicated resource to service, the group will be looking closely at customer experience, informed by its fine-dining and premium restaurants, where service is paramount.

“That’s not to say we’re going to start operating like a restaurant in every single pub. But you know, when you have a really strong brand like ARIA in your organisation, from a food and beverage service perspective, you’re going to really hone into that. We’ll take the learnings from that and then apply that in a more casual way or in a broader approach,” states Hillary.

“It’s about making sure that we interrogate the service models that those businesses have and actually making them relevant. Not everyone’s interested in bowing and scraping. I think people enjoy much more personality and flair about what they’re doing when they’re going out.”

Just getting some of the simplest fundamentals right can go a long way in making the guest experience a better one.

“I think engagement is absolutely key. I’m sure everyone can remember the last time they went in somewhere and actually got a really engaged, warm welcome. You know, it’s something that I think we try and work really hard on with all of our teams is acknowledging our guests; we want to say hello, good evening, whatever it might be, as soon as we possibly can. That’s really important.”

Training staff in customer engagement will be an immediate focus of the guest experience manager when they begin in the role, with Hillary suggesting that digital platforms will likely be the best way to engage younger venue staff in these skills to begin with.

With cost-of-living creating a really considered patronage across the board for the industry, improving the customer experience and ensuring the offer is exactly what patrons are after is more crucial than ever in Hillary’s view.

“No one goes out to have a bad time. And if you do, you would probably never going to go there again. Everyone goes out because they want to have a really awesome steak or delicious burger or an amazing glass of wine. Making sure that those fundamentals are always right, is absolutely key across the board.

“The easiest measuring stick is being close to your guests and staying close to what’s going on in the business, and being able to adapt and change quickly.”

24 | Australian Hotelier STRATEGY
Joshua Hillary
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UK gastropub authenticity

Expat pub operator Alex Derrick brings a taste of London to Brisbane after more than 20 years of running pubs in Great Britain.

Imagery by Axis Productions 26 | Australian Hotelier VENUE PROFILE

STEERED BY expat pub operator Alex Derrick, The Rose & Crown opened in Southbank at the end of February, with its concept based off London-style gastropubs. Derrick returned to Australia in early 2023, after more than two decades in the UK. In that time, he ran several large pub groups, including The Capital Pub Company which grew from 13 to 35 sites under Derrick’s direction; and The City Pub Group which had more than 50 pubs in the south of England and Wales when Derrick finished up as MD.

Derrick said that not only did he want his children to have the experience of living in Australia, but post-covid it felt like the right time to move back.

“Covid hit the UK hospitality industry particularly hard. And so it’s still very difficult over there and probably going to be very difficult for the foreseeable future. It seemed the right time to look at a change in life.”

Having a look at the Brisbane scene and it’s many variations on style of pub, Derrick found that there were no real London-style gastropubs in the market, and that it was a gap in the market that he could fill.

Getting the menu right

Leading the kitchen is head chef Kevin Honeywood, another Aussie expat who spent decades in UK pubs, as well as working as a private chef in Europe. The menu covers traditional English fare like Scotch eggs, steak and ale pie and beer battered fish and chips.

“[It’s been] a great start, a really good start.

Just about everyone that comes in absolutely loves it, which is great,” stated Derrick.

“We’ve already started to get big group bookings through the week for lunches from some of the offices nearby us, which has been fantastic. We’ve had lots of birthdays and celebrations in.”

The British favourites have been the biggest sellers so far, with fish and chips, potted crab and Scotch eggs flying out the door. It’s also been a delight for the Rose & Crown team to introduce people to Scotch eggs in particular.

“For some locals, when you explain a Scotch egg, it’s probably doesn’t sound as good as it is it is. A boiled egg, wrapped in sausage meat and deep fried. It sounds a bit strange, but when you get people to try them for the first time, they can’t believe it! It’s been fantastic.”

The most popular part of the offer has been the Sunday roast, as is tradition in the

One thing I’m really wanting to do is inspire people to visit the pub…once a fortnight or even once a week, which is probably more in keeping with the English pub culture.
Alex Derrick
Alex Derrick
April 2024 | 27 VENUE PROFILE

UK. The pub offers up three different roasts, as well as all the traditional sides like Yorkshire pudding, cauliflower cheese and roasted potatoes.

“We’ve been gobsmacked by our Sunday roasts, which have just gone absolutely ballistic from the first time we did that. On the firs Sunday we did over 200 covers, which was a very steep learning curve, because we hadn’t done them before. It was so good. The feedback was amazing. And then on St Parick’s Day we did 250

covers in spite of some pretty nasty weather,” states Derrick.

In UK gastropub tradition, the Rose & Crown has no pubs or TAB, and has a small menu with only seven or eight entrée and main options. Now Derrick is planning on adding one or two specials to both categories that will change daily.

“One thing I’m really wanting to do is inspire people to visit the pub more than once a month. People that live around us to come once a fortnight or even once a week, which is probably more in keeping with the English pub culture. Keeping the menu fresh should help encourage that.”

Future plans

The Rose and Crown is just the start of Derrick’s plans to leave his own imprint of the Australian pub scene. The Rose and Crown is the first pub for his business, Avalon Pubs, with the hope to open another three or four in and around Brisbane – but not all necessarily following the Rose & Crown model.

“With the companies I had in London, our mantra was just make it the best pub in its area. And that could be a different style of pub, depending on the area. So we had some gastropubs, we also had some really fine-dining restaurants, we had nightclubs, we had student pubs. So it’s more about finding the opportunity, finding an area that has a viable site, and then working out what the best offer is to go into that site in that area.”

Whatever opportunities ensue, Derrick believes being genuine is what will gain the most traction with pubgoers.

“I think being genuine and obviously tailoring what the offer is to the location and to regular customers, that’s where you get that real loyalty from people inside your venue.”

28 | Australian Hotelier VENUE PROFILE


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A new kind of pub grub

Having operated the Green Lion bistro within a pub for several years, Bhavani Baumann has gone a step further with The Chippo, making it Australia’s first completely vegan pub.

A vegan pie
30 | Australian Hotelier VEGAN FOOD
at The Chippo with mash, peas

BHAVANI BAUMANN has been a staunch advocate for vegan food in pubs for many years. Several years ago, she opened the Green Lion bistro upstairs in the Red Lion Hotel in Sydney’s inner west, and earned herself a staunch following. Last year, she moved over to Chippendale on the city fringe, turning The Chippo’s bistro completely vegan. But late last year, owner Brett Strauss decided to make a sea change, and Baumann stepped up to take control of the entire pub in January. She’s made the entire pub vegan now, with no horse racing being shown, and only vegan drinks behind the bar.

“It sounds dramatic, but most drinks are accidentally vegan these days. There are only a few things we’ve had to replace, and there’s always another brand to fill that spot,” the publican explains.

Catering to a market

While there’s always complaints when any changes are made to a pub, Baumann says The Chippo has gotten busier since turning completely vegan.

“You get all these comments, like it’s not going to last. I don’t think people understand the market out there for this kind of thing. And we’re in Chippendale, which is a really good area for what I’m doing.

“The fact is that we’re busier. Because we’re a niche thing. And people come from all over. I had people around Christmas that were here from overseas and so it’s become a bit of a destination. Because we’re the first vegan pub in Australia, and people get excited to come, you know?”

Hearty pub grub

The misconception with vegan food is that it’s ultrahealthy, tasteless and holier-than-thou. One look at The Chippo’s menu will clear that straight up. It’s chock-full of burgers, subs, nachos – all the typical hearty, greasy fare that hits the spot during or post a session at the pub.

“This is not about health. Being vegan isn’t about health. That’s a misconception. For some people it might be, but most people do it for animals and the planet. And they still miss what they grew up eating. People have memories of comfort foods that they grew up with. And if they can still eat that dish without worrying about harming animals or anything, then it’s a win-win for a lot of people,” explains Baumann.

Burgers are very popular at The Chippo, with the Zinga Burger, a southern-fried chicken-style burger, being the best seller at the pub. For Baumann, the fried chicken plate – with mash, gravy, grilled corn and fries – is a standout, as are the nachos.

The Chippo also puts on a roast the first Sunday of every month, with Yorkshire pudding and all the sides, which is very popular.

“Anything that people miss [from being nonvegan] does well.”

As more people become vegan, Baumann urges other operators to put on a couple of options on their menu, and it happy to help other operators make this a reality. The publican and vegan chef is happy to wholesale her vegan lasagnas – another popular dish at The Chippo – or come in and consult on a couple of menu additions.

“A number one complaint, by most people that are plant based is that they can’t eat at their local. And it’s such a simple thing to do. I don’t think a lot of chefs realise how easy it is to keep a couple of things on the menu that are vegan. It might be as simple as buying plant-based patties, and keeping them in the freezer to make a burger up.

“I’m always willing to come and help people, you know, create something if they want to. It’s business, but it’s a passion for me as well. And the passion is about creating more plant-based options out there so that people can experience it. And it’s really important for the planet going forward, as well.”

I don’t think people understand the market out there for this kind of thing.
Bhavani Baumann, The Chippo
April 2024 | 31 VEGAN FOOD
Bhavani Baumann


Highlighting local produce

As part of its Reconciliation Action Plan, Hunt Hospitality International is introducing special dishes using native ingredients, in collaboration with local Indigenous suppliers.

OVER THE next three months, Hunt Hospitality will be introducing menu specials that use traditional native ingredients. The dishes at each of the group’s pubs will be different, in order to use ingredients that are native to the region. The initiative reflects both the company’s corporate objectives, as well as the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), that it began last year.

“At the root of Hunt Hospitality’s corporate objectives is the company motto: Recalling tradition with a twist of today. Beyond weaving this into daily operations, we take this motto further by applying it in conjunction with our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP),” stated managing director Stephen Hunt.

“As one of the first hospitality groups to begin our RAP, it was important to our team to celebrate the diverse culinary heritage surrounding our venues. Recalling the traditional native ingredients of each venue’s region with a twist to produce dishes that create a unique and memorable dining experience.”

The roll-out of these special menu items begins at Seabreeze Hotel in Nelson Bay on the NSW Central Coast. For the main, the Snapper fish with shrimp in Lemon Myrtle cream sauce showcases the delicate flavours of Australian seafood complemented by the aromatic essence of Lemon Myrtle. Accompanied by chat potato fondant, roasted brussels sprouts, and cherry tomato confit, the dish is elevated with a topping of Finger lime caviar, fresh herbs, and coriander oil for a burst of flavour.

For dessert, a Wattleseed and berries cheesecake offers a delightful fusion of creamy cheesecake infused with Australian native spice Wattleseed, paired perfectly with fresh berries and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

“We settled on these dishes after careful consideration of both traditional indigenous ingredients and modern culinary techniques. Our team collaborated closely with local Aboriginal suppliers to source the highest quality native ingredients that reflect the rich heritage of the region,” Hunt Hospitality International COO Ricci-Lee Wheeler.

While each of the venue’s head chefs create these special dishes – Seabreeze Hotel head Chef Geraldine Roque (pictured) created the dishes above – working with local indigenous suppliers is a critical component of the process.

“It was important to us to strengthen our partnerships with Indigenous suppliers to facilitate this initiative. Each venue’s team has taken the time to foster these relationships and learn the importance of the native ingredients. This has allowed us to contribute to the local community and spread awareness and knowledge of the local ingredients available in each venue’s region,” stated Hunt.

The hope is that through these dishes, more people become aware of often under-utilised native ingredients, and how they can be used in dishes prepared by talented chefs.

“Alongside highlighting these dishes on our specials boards, we intend to highlight them on social media with images of the dishes with in-depth descriptions of the ingredients,” explained Wheeler.

“It is no longer just about the food, but the important place that native ingredients have in the Australian hospitality industry.”

Seabreeze Hotel head chef Geraldine Roque
32 | Australian Hotelier
Snapper fish with shrimp in Lemon Myrtle cream sauce

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Southwest Chic

The Busselton Pavilion celebrates its southwestern WA location, blending coastal and forest elements in its design.

Guests can purchase wine from the South West Wine Shop to enjoy with a meal at The Pav The mainsail over the bar comes from the yacht Fortuosity, an annual Geographe Bay race participant. Photography by Peggy Voir Antique model ships and signal flags create a “salty seadog” aesthetic
DESIGN & BUILD 34 | Australian
Locals have gravitated to the pool table since opening

THE BUSSELTON Pavilion, also known as The Pav, opened in January this year, bringing a new venue to the southwestern WA town of Busselton.

Busselton is growing in size and increasingly becoming a popular tourist destination, with direct flights already coming to Busselton Margaret River airport from Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, and international flights in the cards for the near future. Parker Group CEO John Parker explained why Busselton is such a popular destination.

“Busselton is the first stop in the journey to the southwest. Essentially, we are the gateway to the Margaret River wine region that is fast becoming a go-to for foodies and travellers, with some of the best producers in the country on our doorstep. The town is quickly becoming known as a hospitality hub for foodies, and we are so grateful to be able to join our friends in this scene,” Parker said.

The Busselton Pavilion itself is centrally located within the town, close to picturesque landmarks. Parker is enamoured with the beauty of the coastline.

“We’re located in the centre of town, right off the newly developed Busselton Central and just a short stroll from the idyllic Geographe Bay and Busselton Jetty. It’s just so beautiful here.”

Local flair

The interiors of the Busselton Pavilion were a collaboration between Parker and WA visual artist Rina Feiberg. Both Feiberg and Parker’s design ideas were inspired by the local Busselton community and the environment of the region. The final design reflects both the community around Busselton and the natural landscape of the southwest, appealing to both tourists and locals.

“My inspirations were the lifestyle, the locals and the vibrancy of the town. It’s such a pleasure to be in Busselton. We wanted the venue to be an extension of that,” Feiberg said.

“We want people to feel the relaxed coastal vibes famous in the southwest when they visit us at Busselton Pavilion,” Parker added.

The connection between the Busselton Pavilion and the local community is evident in the artwork lining the walls, which include landscape photography by Yallingup photographer Peggy Voir and coastal-inspired paintings by Feiberg and fellow WA artist Ella Holme.

“The imagery uniquely works to bring a nod to the Busselton coast that only locals would

recognise, without blatantly using imagery of the Busselton Jetty, which seems like the obvious choice,” Parker said.

As one of the main entry points into the southwest region, the Busselton Pavilion draws much of its design inspiration from the surrounding landscape. The colour palette of warm whites and seafoam green reflect the coastal location.

“The mainsail overhanging, along with boating signalling flags and antique model yachts help further establish the rustic salty dog feel we were after,” Parker said.

This is paired with greenery, earthy terracotta and warm terrazzo finishes that evoke the colours of the Tuart Forest. The venue is then layered with cosy industrial elements such as exposed bulbs and concrete floors.

The mainsail hung over the bar is a highlight of the venue, with Feiberg and Parker both citing it as their favourite element. Another significant local connection, the mainsail was gifted to The Busselton Pavilion by the commodore at the Royal Perth Yacht Club. Originally from her own yacht, Fortuosity, the mainsail had sailed the Geographe Bay yacht race each year. It took a team of eight and three cherry pickers to erect the sail, but Parker thinks the effort has paid off.

“It was a fantastic team effort lifting this sail above the bar, definitely a highlight for me during the weeks leading up to opening earlier this year,” he said.

For Feiberg, the effect is almost magical. “I can’t explain it but as soon as it was up, it was as though the building had been gifted a soul.”

Coastal flow

The Busselton Pavilion comprises several different sections, each with a different purpose and occasion. Parker explained that even though each section has a distinct identity, guests can easily travel through the spaces, which, along with common design elements, creates a cohesive venue.

“The personalities in the venue work to complement each other, not overpower one another. Our main bar works as a divide between our eatery and pub sides, sectioning the two easily for their different purposes, whilst being the complementary common ground,” he said.

An artistic twist

Rather than engaging an interior designer for the Busselton Pavilion, the design process was undertaken by Parker and Feiberg, a publican and a visual artist respectively.

Feiberg described the initial energetic and ambitious brainstorming process.

“John led the design process from the start and when I came on board it was a constant bouncing of ideas. John said, ‘Do we incorporate fabric on the walls?’, I said, ‘I’ll find us a sail... and beach umbrellas!’. We had no idea whether I would find a sail, or how umbrellas could be incorporated but stars align, and it gets done. It’s a thrilling process,” she said.

Feiberg felt that her background as an artist allowed her to approach the design process from a unique perspective.

“I imagine designers are a little more planned, whereas I prefer working off instinct. Flexibility is key. Elements get added to the space as the space evolves,” she said.

“I enjoy parameters and problem-solving, so taking the design choices already locked in and elevating them to be more impactful or synchronised is very satisfying.”

April 2024 | 35 DESIGN & BUILD

The eclectic décor of the venue enhances the multispace feel, as well as reflecting the variable customer base, comprised both of holidaymakers and locals.

“Busselton Pavilion has been purposefully designed to be as multifaceted and layered as the southwest it represents. The venue works both for the purpose to attract tourists to a space that best encapsulates the wider feeling of the southwest region, whilst also giving a nod to nostalgia capturing the heart of the locals through the art and memorabilia featured around the venue,” Parker said.

Beyond the main bar, pub, and dining sections, The Pav includes a leafy beer garden and alfresco seating, which features eye-catching yellow beach umbrellas.

“The beer garden is a relaxing, living, breathing space to enjoy an ice-cold beer on a warm Busselton afternoon,” Parker said.

The Busselton Pavilion includes a boutique bottle shop, South West Wine Shop, curated by Parker Group wine director Cyndal Petty. The shop opens up into the rest of the Pavilion, allowing guests to browse wines and purchase them to enjoy alongside a meal. As with the venue’s design, South West Wine Shop celebrates the local region, with southwestern WA wines making up 85 per cent of its stock. Guests have been impressed by the open and airy feel of the space, as well as its extensive wine selection.

“When our customers walk in, they are generally in total awe with the detail and thought behind the space. It truly is a unique offering to the coastal town with a lot of influence from interstate dining, drawing community wine lovers from far and wide,” Parker said.

In particular, Parker noted that the pool table has become a popular part of the venue. The light woods and light ocean blues make for an airy and laid-back feel, which is enhanced by the vibrant community atmosphere created by the locals.

“It’s great to see the space used how it was intended; locals with beer-in-hand leaning against the high tables, watching the competition take place,” he said.

There are plans to continue expanding the Busselton Pavilion, including an on-site distilling facility. A dedicated space has been set aside, and with a newly installed still, Parker Group’s recently appointed southwest distiller Kevin Clarke will soon begin crafting a range of house vodka and gin.

In addition, Parker teased the upcoming opening of a private dining area.

“Our soon-to-be-revealed private dining room is a separate dining area that sits off the eatery and pool area. A secret nook, you could say, that draws you to the new and abstract side of The Pavilion, unravelling a hidden layer to her repertoire.”

36 | Australian Hotelier DESIGN & BUILD
Coastal paintings and artworks are a unique representation of Busselton

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An inspired collaboration

Melbourne’s iconic Hotel Esplanade has inspired Four Pillars’ Sticky Carpet Gin and is one of only seven venues serving it exclusively.

FOUR PILLARS has released the second edition of its Sticky Carpet Gin, which takes its inspiration from Melbourne’s Hotel Esplanade, more commonly known as The Espy. The gin is exclusive to seven venues: The Espy, Yarra Botanica and Garden State Hotel in Melbourne, The Winery in Sydney, The Regatta and Riverland in Brisbane, and the Claremont in Perth.

Kevin Peters, beverage director - cocktails and spirits for The Espy, explained what makes The Espy iconic enough to inspire a gin from one of Australia’s top gin distilleries.

“The Espy is in prime position on the waterfront and is one of the oldest and largest 19th century pubs in Melbourne. Every Melburnian knows The Espy and has a story from heading there on a night out.

“I think it’s stood the test of time because you can choose your own adventure: live music in the Gershwin Room and the Basement, a classic pub experience in the Main Bar, delicious Cantoneseinspired dining upstairs at Mya Tiger, Italian American fun at Louey’s Bar & Kitchen, and cocktails at the Ghost of Alfred Fenton,” he said.

Four Pillars first released Sticky Carpet Gin in 2019, at which time it was exclusively available onpremise at The Espy, and has been one of the most frequently requested products at The Espy ever since. This second iteration is made with Little Creatures Pale Ale, hops, roasted barley, cassia bark, and macadamia nut, resulting in a unique flavour profile.

“It’s unlike any gin you have tried before. It draws influence from 90s pub nostalgia, which

is reminiscent of mine and Four Pillars Creative Director Nick’s first experiences when we started bartending together many years ago,” Peters said.

When Four Pillars announced the re-release of Sticky Carpet Gin, Peters jumped at the opportunity to collaborate with Four Pillars co-founder Matt Jones on bringing the gin to the on-premise.

“When Matt reached out to us with news of Sticky Carpet 2.0 being brought to life, we knew we wanted to be part of round two. We workshopped how, why and where it could be done and settled on some of Australia’s best front bars like The Espy’s,” Peters said. Sticky Carpet Gin features on a curated drinks menu, which features fresh takes on some nostalgic Aussie classics. Drinks include a Pine Lime Shot, a ‘fire engine’-inspired Watermelon Gin and Tonic, and a Frozen Hard LLB.

At The Espy, the exclusive release is being promoted with custom menus, coasters, and branded Sticky Carpet tee shirts worn by the team. However, in Peters’ opinion, the most important promotion tactic is conversations between bar staff and the guests.

“It’s how Sticky Carpet 1.0 became so popular, our staff recommending it because it was so tasty and then the flow on of word-of-mouth between locals. Our team’s really excited, and our customers are too, so it’s a really natural conversation,” Peters said.

The Espy and Four Pillars will celebrate the launch of Sticky Carpet Gin at The Espy’s iconic Gershwin Room, featuring a live performance from Melbourne band Floodlights, on 17 April.

2.0 38 | Australian Hotelier TALES FROM THE TOP
Kevin Peters Beverage Director –Cocktails and Spirits Esplanade Hotel One of the cocktails created at The Espy using Four Pillars’ Sticky Carpet Gin
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