Jeremy Shipley, the new Group Bars Manager for Solotel has had an extensive career in the bar industry. He was recently named one of the bar industry’s top 50 most influential people. We caught up with Jeremy for a chat about what got him started in the industry, his first cocktail and what to expect from his book ‘Shaken.’
1. What sparked your interest in the bar industry?
I actually stumbled into the industry by offering to help a friend out who owned a small club about 20 years ago. I loved it so much that I became the manager one month later and the rest is history. That night changed my life forever.
I realised that creating a fun and friendly environment by making drinks was something that I really enjoyed, so I decided that this was the path my career was to take, much to the dismay of my mum.
2. Do you remember drinking your first cocktail and what it was?
Actually I do. Besides terrible shots, cheap beer and crazy home brew concoctions, my first ‘official’ drink was a Pina Colada in Fiji. I have to admit, I thought it was gross. The drink was blended, had a typical ‘tiki’ garnish, it was super strong with local over proof rum, weird coconut mix and pineapple juice.
3. You were just appointed Group Bars Manager for Solotel – what exactly does your role entail?
It’s a pretty full on role as Solotel has many venues across Sydney and one in Brisbane. My first initial tasks was to get around to all the venues, find out what works, what doesn’t and try to implement a drinks program specific to that venue and its customers.
2014 will all be about in-house training, where I’ll be hosting education sessions, cocktail workshops and standardising the methods our bartenders use to create basic drinks and fancy cocktails.
4. Which Solotel venue did you love creating the drinks and cocktail menu for most?
Opera Bar certainly was a challenge purely for the sheer volume of cocktails they make per week. They also have a very wide demographic of customers, so the menu needed to fun, fresh and consumer friendly yet the drinks needed to be quick and easy enough to make, without making the customers wait too long.
That said, I’ve enjoyed working the team at Upstairs at The Bank Hotel. The bar is an awesome rock & roll cocktail bar, with a focus on Tequila, Rum and American whisky, so that drinks menu had to reflect the room and its customers. The list is short, but it’s a mix of twisted classics and late night favourites.
5. Just this year you were nominated as one of the industry’s top 50 most influential people, how does that make you feel?
Being nominated was an absolute honour. To be recognized and listed amongst the top 50 most influential industry people in Australia was a real highlight for me this year. A lot of the people on that list I’ve had the pleasure of working with, and whom I look up to with the highest respect as mentors, dear friends and industry legends. Having my name along side those names was incredibly humbling.
6. Tell us more about your cocktail book ‘Shaken.’ What can readers expect to find in the book?
It’s a great ‘coffee table’ book with simple, fun and fresh recipes.I worked on that book about ten years ago with Murdoch Publishing; we wanted the book to be user friendly without a ‘bar geek’ focus so that anyone of any bar skill level could find a drink to make.The photography and styling is amazing and it’s a book I’m proud to be associated with.
7. Top 3 cocktail ingredients you can’t live without?
I’d have to say Bacardi 8yr rum, fresh citrus and Campari. Good quality aged rum, citrus for balance and I just couldn’t live without Campari. It’s what I like to call “Sweet sour spirit” combo!
8. Where do you love to EAT in Sydney?
Sydney is renowned for its great restaurant culture and is continually evolving, but I always go back to Longrain in Surry Hills. This is a place that holds fond memories for me both professionally and personally and always impresses me food and drink wise.
It’s a place where I love to go on ‘date night’ but it’s also a great place to take out of towner’s to show off a true Sydney dining institute.
9. Your ultimate place to grab a DRINK in Sydney?
I’m a real sucker for the beauty of Sydney harbour, so anywhere with a view is fine with me. That could be anywhere from Opera Bar, Café Sydney or drinking champagne on our friends boat. Just being part of what this wonderful harbour has to offer can sometimes just takes your breath away.
10. When you’re not mixing up a cocktail, where do you go to PLAY in Sydney?
Over the years I’ve spent a far bit of time in and around Darlinghurst, so even if I have a night off, I still find myself back in the area. I love the diversity of drinking venues within the postcode. There are awesome local pubs such as the Green Park Hotel and Darlo Bar, but you can also get super fancy cocktails at Eau De Vie, Hinky Dinks or the Victoria Room.
We’ve got 2 x $100 food and beverage vouchers for Newtown’s Upstairs at the Bank to giveaway (tickets to be used only between Wednesday-Friday night)
To enter, tell us (in 25 words or less), if you were nominated by your friends as being in the top 50 for something what would it be and why? e.g I am in the top 50 dessert makers because I make a mean apple pie.
Most creative answer wins. 2 winners notified next Wednesday 18th Dec.