Where do Subi’s Top Bartenders and Baristas go for a Drink?

They’re the affable men and women who make our favourite beverages behind the bars and counters of Subiaco. Gail Williams gets to know a few of our hard-working mixologists and baristas, and discovers where they’re going to unwind after a shift. 

Ziggy Campbell | Barman

Shui

An English man walks into a Glasgow bar and asks for a “lager and lime”. The Barman replies “sorry we don’t do cocktails”.

Word of warning: if you try that one on Scottish-born Ziggy Campbell when ordering a nightcap at Shui, be prepared for an eye roll.

Campbell has heard all the lame jokes during his bar tending career which began with him as a glassy at Leederville’s Oxford Hotel back in 2013 while studying geology at Curtin.

But, being a good-natured Glaswegian dude, Campbell politely reacts to all the “funny” lines. It’s a gift he learnt while doing casual shifts behind the stick at some of Perth’s coolest bars such as  L’Chaim, a theatrical little speakeasy in Fremantle’s Old Synagogue.

Wearing a white sports coat and a pink carnation, he honed his craft while manning his tools – shaker, strainer, tweezers, bar spoon, jiggers and cloths – and garnered a following for his distinctive shaking style. He loved it so much he ditched his studies and turned mixing mojitos and martinis into his day job. And his night job. And his weekend job.

One year ago, when former colleagues Leigh Power and Ben Tua opened their modern Asian restaurant, Shui at the bottom end of Rokeby, Campbell, who had worked with them for five years, was a shoe-in for the bartender’s role. Today, amongst the beautiful wicker hanging lighting, uptempo beats and warm timber, Campbell  plies his trade by shaking between 150 and 200 cocktails including WA’s most popular bevvys – espresso martinis, spicy margaritas and cosmopolitans.

“I was mentored by household names like Dean Buchanan, James Connolly (Long Chim) and Matt Bodycote (State Buildings), the best in the business,” he says.

“What I loved was not just how creative you can be with mixing cocktails but, more importantly, the role you play in society – the third place between home and work for that in-between recreation time. Our guests have chosen to come and spend time with us and our job is to make it as comfortable and pleasurable as possible. You don’t have to be an extrovert to do it well. Introverts can be caring and are well able to create a sense of community.”

Shui has a dispenser bar where drink orders are taken by waiters and waitresses so there is less interaction between Campbell and guests.

The rotating list of cocktails is the result of lengthy consultation between owner chef, Leigh Power and Campbell as they work out a balance of flavours between food and drink.

Pop in for a Silent Disco, Baby Blossom, Yuzu Sour, Nashi Nashi or Only Fams Martini which will set you back around $22.

Smoky Tommys are currently very on trend – a mix of tequila, mezcal, agave syrup, lime and bitters served in an Old Fashioned tumbler and garnished with a smoked salt rim.

A Yuzu Sour and a chat with the bar staff is Campbell’s personal pick at the end of a long shift, though – otherwise it’s a trip next door to Subi Continental with the kitchen crew.

Christina Radu | General Manager

Squires Loft

With Christina Radu on the tools at Squires Loft perhaps the bar would be better known as Squirette’s Loft.

Whatever the label, one thing’s for sure. Christina Radu’s affable good nature has earned her a spot into Subi bar culture.

In between mixing Cinnamon Sours and Limoncello Spritzes, she will show off her terrific barista technique as she turns out double macchiatos and espressos from the coffee machine.

And, if that’s not enough, the formally-trained chef will also rattle pans in the kitchen when required and turn her dab hand to the grill delivering mouth-watering steaks, lamb and chicken skewers with the Squires’ signature basting.

Radu welcomes new customers along with old regulars like Peter Collier MLC, a Subi local, and restaurateur, Caleb Azuka, who pops in when he wants a night off the pans.

Radu, who hails from Romania, via France, has been at Squires Loft for three years.

So where does she go after a busy shift? Either to BARK for a Pav made with Old Young’s pavolva vodka and Turkish delight liqueur or to the Subi Hotel.

“Both are always great for a wind down,” she says.

Rebecca Frontino | Owner-Barista

Allora Cafe

Let’s just call her Bec. Everybody else does, from Allora regulars to first time customers who wander in from Hay Street lured in by the Darkstar Coffee aromas wafting from the intimate little cafe.

There Bec proudly stands tall, behind the La Marzocco coffee machine.

She smiles as she tamps, froths, foams, grinds and seasons. And then does whatever baristas do to create cute coffee art. Sometimes she’ll even write “I Love You” on the takeaway cup.

Why wouldn’t she have her own fan club gushing about her on Trip Advisor?

“Bec’s Toastie is a bloody good toastie. Coffee was also delicious” says one.

“Great coffee every time, remembers your name and order. Wonderful staff. Great feel. Also simple but yummy menu.” says another.

It’s how Bec’s rolled in the bustling Hay Street precinct for eight years but she nonchalantly dismisses what she brings to the (coffee) table with a confident shrug.

“I am the owner and head barista and I bring the vibe!” she says. “Some people call me Subi’s coffee queen.”

Born in Italy, the spiritual home of coffee, it’s all in her genes. As is her love of people.

For those considering a career as a barista, it might be an idea to start each day with a double espresso. Or two.

According to Bec, the best baristas need loads of energy as well as a great personality and the ability to work under pressure.

To get an idea for it, best to pop in and see Bec in action. While you’re there check out Bec’s shoes. Her favourite store is next door – Dimario Shoes, owned by her Mum.

Now that’s what we call the perfect accompaniment to coffee. A marriage made in coffee heaven.

Jonathan Maltman | Bar Manager

Dilly Dally & Bar Loiter

If you want to see the personification of excellent bar tending, just wander off Rokeby Road into the confidently cool confines of Dilly Dally.

If you’re lucky, you’ll spot Jonathan Maltman standing sentinel as he subtly does his bit to make the Dilly Dally and Bar Loiter customers feel like champagne bubbles are fizzing in their hearts and stars are dancing in their eyes.

Over the top? No. Maltman operates on the principle that the only over the top thing is an over- diluted Negroni.

You won’t see any such adulterations served on his watch or the other faux pas of inexperienced bar tenders – a salt rim on a Margarita.

“None of that salt rim nonsense here.” he laughs.

“Seriously though, what makes a good bar tender is someone who is personable and knowledgeable. You have to make the customer feel welcome in the space, and that they can engage with you on a level that’s something more than just ‘get me a drink.’ Then obviously you have to be able to make them a killer drink.”

When it comes to making a killer Negroni, Maltman has a deft touch.

“It’s equal parts Campari, a good quality sweet vermouth, and dry gin over ice with a fresh twist of orange,” he says. “The trick is to not over-stir it up front, the drink will dilute itself over time. I’ve had some fun over the past few years finding other spirits to sub out for the classic ingredients, but nothing beats a classic. That’s why it’s a classic.”

It takes a lot to get on the wrong side of Maltman, always cheerful and always up for a chinwag with customers. But, if you are having a banter with him over the bar and feel like a certain coffee flavoured drink, please don’t ask for an ‘Expresso Martini’.

When he’s hung up the tools after a busy shift you may find him having a cheeky drink or three at BARK, Lums for a snack and Yiamas for a solid Greek feast.

And, as if it were not already apparent, he loves Subi and its people.

“It makes my job way more fun getting to work with patrons to help them find their new favourite drink. I/we here at Dilly Dally & Bar Loiter have made some very good friends of some Subi locals, and it always brings a smile to my face to see them walk through the door… their drinks are usually on the way before they’ve even sat down!”

Jonathan Diaz | Venue Manager

Cherubino City Cellar

Take one shaker, add a decent slug of good quality alcohol, give it a whirl with a flavour blaster, pour in a generous slurp of fun and – voila! – you have the perfect starter for a night of whoopee at Cherubino City Cellar.

Oh, we forgot the secret ingredient. That comes in the form of the charming maestro who goes under the name of Jonathan Diaz. Diaz took over the reins as venue manager about 18 months ago
and the popular bar has not looked back.

Especially when it comes to the cocktails on the list, even though it is predominantly a wine venue.

“I have just updated our cocktail list with 10 brand new, fresh cocktails based on fresh seasonal fruit,” says Diaz.

“There’s something to suit every type of drinker. We also have our barrel aged cocktails which are our classic cocktails such as the classic Negroni, the Boulevardier, the Sazerac and the classic Manhattan which have all been aged in oak barrels for at least 6 weeks to give another dimension and amazing taste to these classic cocktails.”

On a day off, does Diaz hit the booze trail?

“No,” he says. “You’ll find me on the golf course enjoying the peace and quiet.”

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