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Hot Talent Award: Time Out Sydney Bar Awards 2019

She may have a preternatural knack for making people feel welcome, but bartending was nearly a non-starter for this talented rookie
Person smiling behind bar with a cocktail
Photograph: Anna Kucera
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Winner: Sarah Mycock, PS40

“Even at my first hospitality job I wanted to be behind the bar,” says Sarah Mycock. But after six years working the floor the dream of wielding a Toby Tin was no closer. It took quitting outright with no plan in place to help her finally vault the counter – that’s when Thor Bergquist, a 2018 Bartender of the Year nominee, recruited her for PS40, the bar he co-owns with Michael Chiem.

Chiem is full of praise for the persistent young bartender. “Whenever we look for someone to work here we’re looking for the right personality. People come to the bar just to see her. She has a following of regular customers. It’s a testament to her interpersonal skills. At PS40, our interactions are longer. People want to have a conversation and know more about the sodas and drinks.”

Not only is she a great bartender, but she has also mastered the bottling runs for the housemade sodas. “It’s a unique skill and a whole new ballgame when it comes to drinks prep,” says Chiem.

To Mycock, the key to excellent service is about reading the room. “You need to make people feel comfortable. It can be intimidating to walk into a bar, so you need to break down that barrier between server and customer.” Of course, she knows that not everyone is there to hear about the exact ingredients of the housemade aquavit, or a precise breakdown of the native botanicals they’re using across the menu. “At Lobo Plantation, we used to say people are a rock or a sponge. They either want to absorb everything, or have no interest and just want a quiet drink.”

But not a lot of rocks come to PS40, which is what makes Mycock such a valued team player. While she hones her bar skills and develops cocktails to pitch for the new menu, people will keep coming back for the ace chat and genuine warmth of her style of bartending. It’s exactly what you need after a long day at the office, and that’s why she’s this year’s Hot Talent Award recipient.

We’re also watching…

 

Elle Charalambu, Earl's Juke Joint
An enviable palate and meticulous attention to detail have seen this talented bartender rise from glassy to bar manager. 

Liam Gavin, Door Knock
It’s his reputation for putting the customer experience above all else that makes this bartender stand out from the pack. A deep appreciation of dad jokes doesn’t hurt either. 

Alex Gondz, Bulletin Place
Since arriving from Canberra he’s set his sights high and kicked his creative drive into high gear as part of the hyper-productive Bulletin crew.

Amy Hilder, Ramblin' Rascal Tavern
The future of Sydney bartending is in good hands if the calibre of up’n’comers is as dedicated, hardworking and capable as this young gun behind the Rascal’s storied bar. 

See more winners from the Bar Awards

Celebrations at TOBA
Photograph: Daniel Boud
Bars, Cocktail bars

Time Out Sydney Bar Awards: Winners

All the best cocktail bars, wine merchants, neighbourhood boltholes, party palaces and snack suppliers that took out the top gongs at this year's Time Out Sydney Bar Awards.

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