Everyone was in denial about the decline of print media when I worked at ACP Magazines.
They thought the good times would never end. The parties, the freebies, the big salaries, the glamorous perks …
Back then there was even a luxurious gym in the building with its own beauty salon. The salon did a roaring trade in getting staff ready for the endless events and photo shoots that they attended.
I’ll never forget the day a panicked finance bloke said to me: “Rome is burning and everyone’s off getting spray tans.”
The reality has finally sunk well in.
The beauty salon closed down many years ago and the gym has been sold off to a private investor.
There are still good times to be had, but you need to do the equivalent of two jobs and somehow find the time to leave the office to attend them.
It’s rare that I see a mainstream journo at the events I attend.
Anyhoo … I felt a bit like I was off getting a spray tan while Rome burned on Tuesday night. DD and I attended a cocktail party to celebrate the Bacardi Legacy Top 3 bartenders being announced for 2019/2020.
As the cab drove over the Sydney Harbour Bridge we could barely see the city – it wasn cloaked in a thick, brown haze of smoke from the bushfires.
It felt a bit callous to be boozing while others were battling to save their homes.
I drowned my guilt in cocktails while perched on a pretty pink velvet banquet at a bar called Maybe Sammy, listening to a DJ play Mack The Knife at maximum volume.
Though we almost didn’t get into the groovy joint because someone thought the old folk hadn’t noticed the “Closed for a private function” sign out the front.
Fortunately Penny the PR manager for the brand spotted me and ushered me past the perplexed bouncer.
Maybe Sammy takes inspiration from the roaring Fifties, “a time when The Rat Pack and Hollywood glamour were revered and admired”. Here’s what it looks like in daylight …
Its signature drinks are named after some of “the boys” favourite haunts on the Vegas strip and the bar has a retro-Vegas vibe to the decor.
The handsome fella in the main pic made me a cocktail – I got a bit excited because he’s a big deal in mixology land. His name is Andrea Gualdi and he was named World Class Australia Bartender of the Year in 2017.
I was keen to get to the event because the venue was just voted Best New International Bar at the Spirited Awards.
DD and I sat in what’s usually the “Pink VIP area” (above) sipping our way through the cocktail menu and slurping oysters puddled in melted sorbet.
At one point DD headed to the bar to get another round of cocktsils and a young lass called Therese came up and asked if anyone was sitting with me.
I was a little startled and looked stern for a moment, indicating that yes, there was someone with me, so please take a hint and bug off.
Then I realised that she didn’t know anyone and was looking for a safe haven from the crowd for a few minutes.
I gave her a big smile, ushered her into the seat beside me and proceeded to get her back story: she’s an engineering student working her way through uni by bartending at The Star on weekends. She attended the event to get some tips on presentation for appearing in bartending competitions.
She was most disappointed when I told her the competition bit had happened earlier in the day and this was just an excuse for a party while waiting for the results to be announced at 9pm.
The Top 3 bartenders advancing to the Semi Final are Adam Dow from Dead Ringer, Sydney; Mikey Braun from Bodriggy Brew Pub in Melbourne; and Natalie Ng from Door Knock in Sydney.
The Pink VIP area wasn’t the best spot to watch the announcement as we were directly behind the winners. Here’s what the top 8 finalists looked like from the rear:
And this is the official photograph of them from the front:
I have no idea how I managed to try all five cocktails on the party menu, they must have been low in alcohol, because I arrived home without the slightest stagger in my step or even a hint of a hangover the next morning.
My favourite was the Bonanza with Bacardi, peach wine, yuzu, strawberry and meringue. Although the mojito was pretty yummy too. But man the Mini Facundo was bitter.
I read a story in the New York Times this week that discussed how millennials are more open to bitter flavours in drinks because they’ve been brought up on kale and stuff.
They’re welcome to them, though I am coming around to Aperol Spritzes.
Here are some pics from the night (the flash of green is my Christmas Day skirt I treated myself to and couldn’t help wearing early):
Song of the day: Midnight Oil “Beds are burning”