From beginnings in surveying to co-owning one of the most popular bars in Sydney, presenting Luke Redington in our Bartender Profile series.
Luke Redington at Hello Sailor – Photo © Kevin Burke
Tell us a little about yourself, your family and where you grew up.
I come from a mixed background, father’s side is Scottish and mother’s side is Lebanese. I grew up in the bottom of the Blue Mountains and then from my late teens lived mainly between Cronulla and the south coast.
How did you get started in bartending?
I have a degree in surveying and so I was doing that as a job since I was 16. Started working in bars in 2006 to pay off a European holiday and decided that hospitality was much more fun than surveying. I’ve never looked back.
Tell us a little about your bartending career.
Started off at Industrie as a bar back (which is now Jamie’s Italian), went to Hugo’s Bar & Pizza and ended up bar manager, went to Eau de Vie and ended up bar manager, did some gypsy living, opened Hello Sailor.
It’s safe to say that I’ve won or placed very well in a lot of comps over the last 5 years but that’s purely down to hard work and an ability to talk very well in public forums.
What is your most memorable bartending experience to date?
Winning world’s best new cocktail bar for Eau de Vie at Tales when I was the manager and the team that made it all happen. My first ever cocktail comp win for 42 below was surreal. I beat my mentors and got a trip to NZ, pretty fantastic except that was when I met Greg Sanderson for the first time. Who would of thought that years later I would be responsible for his unicorn title.
Also, most shifts with myself, Josh Baxter and Max Greco together were insane.
Who has been an influence or a source of inspiration to you?
My grandfather, Julian Damjano, Dylan Howarth, Jared Plummer, Jason Crawley, Reece Griffiths, Max Greco, Marco Faraone and definitely not Greg Sanderson.
What are some of the challenges you face as a bartender/bar owner?
Delegating is always a tough one. Long hours away from my girlfriend.
What are your favourite ingredients that define your style of cocktail?
Agave distillates and Pisco make me happy to mix with. I really like floral and herb characteristics in drinks.
What excites you about the Sydney bar scene?
There’s a lot of support and camaraderie which is very humbling at times. Bars like Vasco, Rambling Rascal, Bulletin Place, Earl’s, Shady Pines……always exciting. Benchmark venues in my opinion.
Is there anything about it that you’d like to see change?
No more lockout law.
What cocktail trends interest you at the moment?
Whatever Reece Griffiths is doing is fine by me.
When you’re not behind the bar, what do you like to drink?
And finally, is there a special cocktail of your creation that you’d like to share with Gourmantic?
Well besides the piña colada which I invented over 50 years ago, all the drinks at Hello Sailor. Too many to remember but most likely I’ll make them with passionfruit and sherry.
The Bartender Profile series continues.