Winner: Atlanta Pahulu, Bulletin Place
Atlanta Pahulu wasn’t sure what she wanted to do when she finished her film and media studies. She just knew she needed some money. So she took a job as a glassy at the Unicorn and in a matter of months, at the age of 20, found herself managing the first-rate Paddo pub with capacity for 350 punters. But her nights off the clock proved even more formative.
“I used to bring David A Embury’s book, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, over to Shady Pines Saloon,” she says. “I’d talk to the bartenders and have them make me whatever cocktail I was reading about.”
That burning curiosity caught the attention of some hospitality heavyweights, and it wasn’t long before Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern co-owner Charlie Lehmann invited her down to learn how to shake Whisky Sours and Margaritas one afternoon. It quickly turned into a permanent spot on the roster.
“As soon as I got the hang of how to make a cocktail, I knew it was what I wanted to do,” she says. “I’m a very hands-on person, and I like the idea of being able to put something together, present it and have someone knock it back in a few seconds.”
The Baxter Inn came calling next, where a short stint under the wing of former Time Out Bartender of the Year Stuart “Chewy” Morrow helped her realise that what she valued most was creativity. And that’s how she landed at Bulletin Place, where you’ll catch her these days crafting the five drinks on the consistently outstanding rotating menu from scratch, alongside some of the best in the business.
Impressive? Insanely so – especially when you consider the mere thought of pulling a beer made her nervous a couple of years ago. But even though she’s racked up a CV that some people twice her age might envy, humility remains her most distinctive trait.
“Being a good bartender is about being personable, going the extra mile and just being attentive,” she says. “People can tell when you’re not being genuine. Just be yourself, and things will follow.”
We’re also watching…
Emma Bernardi, Rosenbaum and Fuller
She embraces the sustainable, Aussie-driven ethos at this neighbourhood gem with aplomb.
Molly Gillis, Jangling Jack’s
If only every bartender were as calm, cool and collected as this poised young gun.
Andrew McCorquodale, Old Mate’s Place
“Goober” might be his nickname, but he’s all business behind the stick.
Federica Thorn, Continental CBD
You’re always in good hands when this conscientious quiet achiever’s on the tins.