Bartender Profile: Reece Griffiths

When he’s not behind the bar, you’ll find him spreading the love of the agave spirit. Meet Reece Griffiths, Bar Manager at Low 302 in our Bartender Profile series.

Reece Griffiths
Reece Griffiths – Photo © by Kevin Burke for Gourmantic

Tell us a little about yourself, your family and where you grew up.
I was born in Revesby in the South-Western suburbs of Sydney into a sports mad family. I grew up travelling, surfing and eating my way through the east coast of Australia. My family have definitely helped me develop my sense of hospitality.

The love of food, wine and family is number one and both my Nan’s and my Dad, have seriously impacted the way I view food and drinks as well as what it is to be a host. Nothing is more enjoyable for me than going home for a meal, plenty of wine, and plenty more laughs around the table.

How did you get started in bartending?
I got into bartending through the Sydney Nightclub scene. I was studying Occupational Therapy, and was a bit of a club-rat at the time. So the logical conclusion was to become a glassy in one of Sydney’s dodgiest nightclubs so I could work/party. From there I got thrown behind the stick one night and fell in love with bartending, food and booze and the rest is history.

Tell us a little about your bartending career.
I have been bartending for around 10 years now. I’ve been lucky enough to be behind the stick at Cargo in the early days, Bayswater Brasserie, Emmilou which was my first crack at running a bar, The Victoria Room and now I’ve found a home at Low302 where I head up the venue from a drinks perspective. Comp wise, I have finished in the Top 10 in World Class and BOTY respectively, as well as taking out Domaine de Canton Bartender of the Year and had a bit of success in various comps over the years.

What is your most memorable bartending experience to date?
My most memorable experiences behind the stick are actually back in the Cargo years. We had an unbelievable team and an even better time. Being young, reckless and learning so much as we went with guys like Phil Gannon, Andy Emerson, Ed Loveday, Dave Beatty, Alex Relic and so many others. These guys remain some of my closest friends and are inspirations to this day.

You’ve spent around two years living and working in Mexico. What was the highlight of your time there?
All up around 2 and a half years travelling the region. Very little work was done! But a lot of “research”! Travelling the coast surfing, drinking, eating and soaking up the culture was the main focus.

It’s really hard to pinpoint a highlight. The country and the people have changed my life, reeled me in and hooked me forever. I think that sharing this with my girl is the highlight of my time in Mexico. We really fell in love here and with Mexico forever!

You’re considered one of the experts on agave spirits (Tequila, Mezcal) and you founded the Agave Cartel group in 2012. How did you develop your extensive knowledge?
Through passion. I truly love the Agave Spirits category. So I dedicated myself to learning more about it. Researching, travelling, talking any producer or drinker that would listen to me, visiting distilleries and expanding my palate as much as humanly possible. I try to taste everything I possibly can and keep notes for myself. Information can be really hard to come by in these industries, it is heavily guarded. So I learnt to read in Spanish and read any book, lecture, thesis magazine or scribbled note I can about agave and the production of alcohol from them.

Who has been an influence or a source of inspiration to you?
I am influenced and inspired by so many people. Phil Bayly & Ryan Gardam, I really have to thank for setting me on this path and instilling the passion and knowledge of Tequila upon me.

My peers and friends continue to inspire me in different ways, Luke Redington, Chino, Rory Vega and Max Greco I love for always doing things with their own personal style, regardless of what’s trending.

Tom Bulmer sets the standard for Category Passion and what he does for Rum is unbelievable. Basically, our community is f*cking awesome and I’m blown away by it!

What are some of the challenges you face as a bartender?
I guess the typical things. Missing time with family and loved ones are the biggest things for me, jerk customers aside.

What are your favourite ingredients that define your style of cocktail?

Obviously tequila/mezcal is what I reach for. I like simple drinks that can be banged out under pressure. I guess I like all the work to be done in prep time. 4 ingredients max, lots of equal parts. Smart bartending.

What excites you about the Sydney bar scene?
Diversity, passion, and awesome people owning and running the type of bars I love drinking at.

Is there anything about it that you’d like to see change?
To steal Jess Arnott and Tash Sorenson back to Sydney.

What cocktail trends in agave spirits interest you at the moment?
Stirred drinks. Tequila and mezcal being exploited in classics. #Agavethatclassic is a game Luke and I love to play.

When you’re not behind the bar, what do you like to drink?
Pretty easy to guess. Tequila, Mezcal and lots of Bro-śe.

And finally, is there a special cocktail of your creation that you’d like to share with Gourmantic?

Bandito Alley
40ml Calle 23 Blanco Tequila
30ml Guajillo Infused Sweet Vermouth
15ml Averna

Add all to chilled rocks glass, stir down with best ice you have on hand. Garnish with orange twist. Drink quickly and repeat.

The Bartender Profile series continues.

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.