Politics, cocktails, and good banter; FDM was granted a rare interview with Drinks Specialist, Kate McGraw!
FDM- Tell us more about your introduction to the drinks industry?
Like most people, I ended up in the industry because I needed a way to pay the bills while I was studying and later whilst I was trying to pursue a career as a writer. One day something shifted and I realised that I could pour all of my creative energy into bartending and cocktails and I haven’t looked back!
FDM- Where did the cocktail bug first bite?
I enjoyed bartending but didn’t love it until I moved to New York. I was introduced to ingredients, methods and ways of thinking behind cocktails that completely blew my mind. I had the great pleasure of working with some very excellent bartenders in some internationally recognized venues so when you’re in that environment it’s hard not to fall in love with cocktails.
FDM- Favourite drink to sling? Drink you wish didn’t exist?
My favourite drink to make people (and myself) is a Sidecar. I think a lot of people find brandy and cognac very unapproachable, but the Sidecar is fresh, sharp and a really interesting and complex sip – it blows people’s minds! I live in Sydney where the currency is Espresso Martinis – if I never had to make one of those again I’d be pretty happy about it.
FDM- Give us a pearl of wisdom?
If you think you know everything then you have a hell of a lot to learn.
FDM- We’ve all flubbed at least one shift. What’s your worst?
I’ve definitely had a few! It’s hard to pinpoint just one, but we all have those nights where you break what seems like 700 glasses and you get to the end of it going – what the hell just happened?!
FDM- What one change would you make to improve our industry?
I would see companies big and small investing in good management pathways and training for their staff. There is such a skills shortage that people get bumped up in to management positions and are pretty much left to figure it out on their own. If we screw it up with the people we put into management, it creates a chain reaction that is harder to fix than prevent.
FDM- What would you be doing if you weren’t working in the drinks industry?
I’ve always toyed with the idea of politics so I’d probably be on my third failed local council run by now!
FDM- Transport yourself five years into the future. What does the industry look like?
I think we’ll see a massive upturn of bartender-owned bars springing up in places that aren’t the inner suburbs of the major cities, I also think that bartenders will be very much in line with chefs and have very good relationships with farmers and suppliers. Food science will have completely taken hold and people will be extracting their own acids and doing all kinds of crazy stuff. Let’s be real, in 5 years time celebrity bartenders will be the new celebrity chefs right?