“Brands follow the money.” Charlie Ainsbury, Darren Leaney, and Mariella Menato on the future of the drinks industry

Talking why punters ought to pay more, if sustainable spirits are possible, bartenders owning bars, and more.

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This week on Drinks At Work I’ve got something a little bit different for you.

It’s a recording of a panel chat I hosted last week in Sydney at Paramount Liquor’s Future Proof forum. It was a great night, a number of different distilleries and brands were on hand offering samples, and we had a great audience listening to three smart panel discussions on the night. The chat for this episode was about future proofing our industry — on the panel was Charlie Ainsbury from Proof & Company, Mariella Menato from Denomination Design, and Darren Leaney who is the head of product for Worksmith in Melbourne.

Each of them are super smart. We talk about sustainability for the spirits business and thankfully the panel was an engaging because that topic can get a little dry, and we also talked about pay in the bar world, if bartenders should be getting into bar ownership (and if so, how), and we talked about what the panel wanted to see in the years to come. I really enjoyed this chat — I think you will too.

Give the podcast a listen in the player here, in the Apple Podcasts app, on Spotify or wherever you get yours.

Charlie Ainsbury, Mariella Menato, Darren Leaney, and Sam Bygrave. Photo: Supplied
Charlie Ainsbury, Mariella Menato, Darren Leaney, and Sam Bygrave. Photo: Supplied

In other news

Bombay Sapphire’s Stir Creativity Cocktail Competition has announced their four finalists, and it’s a very promising quartet: you’ve got Jake Down from Apollonia in Sydney (who you might know from This Must Be The Place and Re); Lachlan Bentley from Melbourne’s Gimlet; Jess Richards from Bar Torino in Adelaide; and from Smoke at Barangaroo, Pauric Kennedy. It’s a cocktail comp final I’m very much looking forward to judging in early April — keep an eye out for more on Boothby about the finalists in the weeks ahead.

The Melbourne Cocktail Festival Symposium is happening later this month in — yep — Melbourne. They’ve got a few great talks happening at the event: a keynote address from Rob Libecans, owner and bartender at Caretaker’s Cottage in Melbourne; a conversation between Archie Rose’s Will Edwards, Never Never Distilling Co’s Kate Rowlands, and host Jane Ryan, on why we need more Australian spirits in the rail; and a great debate which will answer the question of whether or not there is a future for non-alcoholic spirits with Four Pillars’ Matt Jones and Rachael Niall from Tomorrow on Tap arguing the affirmative, Charlie Lehmann from Ramblin Rascal and Cara Devine from Bomba arguing against, and me on hand to moderate things and keep the peace. It’s gonna be fun — you can get your ticket here.

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