AFTER 17 years in the hospitality industry, Andrew Bennett says he still gets a thrill from bartending.
The Maylands resident and co-owner of the Classroom Bar won bartender of the year at the Australian Hotel Association (AHA) national awards at the Gold Coast on September 14.
Mr Bennett said it was a “massive” win.
“It’s one of the rare occasions where it gets outside of the east coast, which is great,” he said.
“Awards like this just couldn’t happen without this growing appetite for things that are cutting edge, different and world class.”
Mr Bennett said dedication to the industry was what made a great bartender.
“I think now there are a thousand guys and girls who can make great drinks but bartending at that level is increasingly about everything outside the glass rather than what is inside the glass,” he said.
“As bartenders, you need the customer rapport to see faces, hear orders, listen to stories, exchange banter, jokes and laughter, so you’re always buzzing after a shift.”
A third generation bartender, Mr Bennett has headed the North Perth bar since it opened in 2012.
“A lot of things have to happen for an award like this,” he said.
“Venues like ours and others have to be constantly hitting marks professionally and there has to be an appetite not only for great cocktails and amazing service but people willing to support that week in and week out.”
After practicing cocktails at home after working in corporate jobs, Mr Bennett said he had always come back to hospitality.
“I fell in love with wine first, then there was the craft beer explosion, then the emergence of boutique spirits washed over everyone and then the love affair with classic cocktails began and I haven’t looked back,” he said.
AHA WA spokesman Adam Le Lievre said hospitality in Perth had come a long way.
“We’ve had to really concentrate on it to make sure our food and beverage offerings are spot on. We think we’re among the best in Australia and these awards confirm that,” Mr Le Lievre.