Bartender Profile: Alissa Gabriel, Bacardi Legacy Australian Winner

Alissa Gabriel is the winner of the Australian Final of the Bacardi Legacy cocktail competition. The 21 year old Brisbane-based bartender will now be representing Australia in the global finals to be held in Sydney in May. She spoke to Gourmantic about how she started in bartending, her inspiration and what it means to win the prestigious cocktail competition.

Alissa Gabriel, Bacardi Legacy Australian Winner
Alissa Gabriel

Tell us a little about yourself, your family and where you grew up.

My names Alissa Gabriel, and I grew up in Rockhampton in North Queensland with my mum and sister.

How did you get started in bartending?

I started bartending at a small pub in Rockhampton called the Ginger Mule just as a second job and discovered a passion for it, in a place that has no bartending culture. I moved to Brisbane so I could continue to learn. I worked at the Press Club in Fortitude Valley for 14 months until I got offered a job managing a new venue that opened in South Brisbane called the Manhattan Line.

Who has been an influence or a source of inspiration to you?

The biggest influence for me has been the bartending community. They constantly challenge and inspire me to work harder. The competitors I faced in Melbourne for the National Finals were all amazing and definitely motivated me to work so much harder over the past 3 months, during the marketing component.

As a young woman in the bar industry, what are some of the challenges you face/have faced in your career?

I don’t really see it as a challenge, obviously it’s a boys’ game, but it doesn’t come down to sexes. It comes down to who can make a good drink and show their personality.

You’ve recently won the Australian final of the Bacardi Legacy. What does winning this prestigious cocktail competition mean to you?

The Bacardi Legacy competition has changed my life, but my goals are still all the same. If anything, it has excelled my career further and pushed me to the next level. I’m still young and have so much I want to learn and so it’s really now about motivating myself and stepping it up a notch.

What was the inspiration behind your winning cocktail?

The Bouteiller Cocktail was created to pay tribute to an unknown man who played a pivotal role in creation of the Bacardi rum making process, Jose Leon Bouteiller. He was a French confectioner and distiller who lived in Santiago and rented a house off the Bacardi family. Facundo approached Bouteiller and offered him subsidised rent for the use of his pot still and expertise on the art of distillation. Then together, they pioneered the Cuban rum making process and created the first ever premium aged white rum.

My drink is inspired by the concept of a helping hand.  Without the help of Bouteiller, Facundo may not have had the means to establish his legacy. Just like without the help of the global bartending fraternity, I may not have the means to establish my own legacy.

How did it resonate on a personal level with you?

The theme for the Bouteiller Cocktail and inspiration was all about a helping hand, and one of my strengths and weaknesses is asking for help. So approaching bartenders and industry professionals and asking them for help was difficult. But, it made my drink and myself reach out to more people. It really made the experience a lot more personal.

Australia will be hosting the Bacardi Legacy Global Competition in Sydney this May. What do you think a global competition of this calibre would mean to the Australian bar industry?

Australia has a fantastic bartending culture and the calibre of the bartenders within it is really driven by their passion. I can’t wait to meet all the international competitors and introduce them to Australian culture. I feel there is a more relaxed and less prejudice feel to the industry.

What would it mean to you if you were to win the Bacardi Legacy Global title?

At the end of the day, the winner is not the person who walks away with the trophy, it’s the person whose cocktail will actually become a classic and stand the test of time next to other classics like the Mojito or the Daiquiri. I am taking every day as an experience and have so much support from Bacardi, my family and the Australian bartenders. I’m just going to get up on that global stage and share my passion for my drink, its story and my country.

The Bouteiller Cocktail by Alissa Gabriel

The Bouteiller Cocktail by Alissa GabrielIngredients:
15mL Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
10mL Falernum
2 Dashes Peychauds
2 Dashes Green Chartreuse (glass rinse)
Lime Twist

Rinse rocks glass with Chartreuse.
Add BACARDÍ, Dry Vermouth, Falernum and Peychauds Bitters to mixing glass.
Stir until chilled.
Strain into crystal rocks glass over block ice.
Garnish with a lime twist and serve.

Photography © by Kevin Burke for Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.

Gourmantic travelled to Melbourne and attended the Bacardi Legacy Australian Final as guests of Bacardi Australia.

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is a drinks writer, author of GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN, SHRUBS & BOTANICAL SODAS and founder/editor of Gourmantic, Cocktails & Bars and The Gourmantic Garden. She has been writing extensively about spirits, cocktails, bars and cocktail gardening in more recent years. She is a spirits and cocktail competition judge, Icons of Whisky Australia nominee, contributor to Diageo Bar Academy, cocktail developer and is named in Australian Bartender Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential List. Her cocktail garden was featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia and has won several awards. She is a contributor to Real World Gardener radio program and is featured in several publications including Pip Magazine, Organic Gardener, Australian Bartender and Breathe (UK). Read the full bio here.