Hi, my name is Andrew.
It all started on my 21st birthday. Having been a bartender for a little over 6 months, cocktails were exciting and I wanted to treat my guests to some newly-learnt recipes. That party is still talked about to this day…
In the 3 years leading up to this party, I had been a waiter for 2 years in the banquets department of Crown Perth (back then it was still Burswood Entertainment Complex), and waiter / bartender in a cocktail bar / restaurant named (A)Lure, which was also in Crown. It was at (A)Lure where I began mixing drinks.
At the time, I was studying Architecture, but I really wanted to be a chef. I remember the exact moment I no longer wanted to be one. I went to my head chef one night during dinner service and I asked, “what do you cook at home?” to which we replied “cook!? I cook 10 hours a day, cooking at home is the last thing I want to do”. It was then and there I decided not to become a chef.
The first every cocktail I made was a French Martini with the guidance of a highly skilled bartender, Owen Merriman, the recipe of which we still use today! At that moment in time, I could never have fathomed that in 5 years time I would be the one training staff on how to make cocktails.
I can remember my shaky hands trying to pour 15ml of Chambord liqueur in a jigger and spilling it all over the bench. I remember shaking the wrong way and getting pink cocktail all over a lady’s dress. I even remember the second time I did that.
3 months later I quit university to become a bartender.
Fast forward to December 2010, I was spending a quarter of every paycheck at the liquor store trying to fill my collection as much as possible so I could make cocktails at my 21st, because it sounded like a fun idea at the time. January 2011 that party came around. And what a party it was.
It was pensioners op-shop theme, and we setup a little table in the corner, just in case anyone wanted a cocktail. I mean, only about 10% of my guests were “cocktail drinkers” so I wasn’t sure how it would go. We had way too many types of liqueurs, and every fruit, juice and mixer under the sun. And we still ran out of ingredients!
At the time, we rented a house near the beach, and I remember carrying our couch through the sand dunes at 2 in the morning so we could sit on a couch on the beach. But that’s a story for another time!
At the party, my cousin asked me if I could do the same little cocktail setup at her birthday. And then a month later at that party, two of her friends asked if I could do the same at their parties. By the end of the year I was doing an event every second weekend.
In early 2012 the business name “Your Bartender” was born, it was no longer a hobby. By mid 2012 I was the bar manager of The Merrywell, and I was calling in sick on Saturday evenings so that I could do private events. By late 2012 I had employed a couple of casual staff to help me out so we could do larger events.
Every single dollar that we made, went into buying glassware, bar equipment, a trailer. Then we moved up in the world and got business cards, a website, and even an email that wasn’t @hotmail.com.
In mid 2014, I thought it would be a crazy idea to start a food truck and try out the food business. So I went to the bank and asked for some money. I don’t know why they approved me but somehow they did, and I went on to build a food van called What the Flip! out of an old Viscount Caravan. January 2015 I quit my job and we opened the food truck with the help of my younger sister, Emileigh.
The food truck was great for a couple of years. We were known as one of the best dessert trucks in Perth, the van was partially run by renewable energy from the help of solar panels and batteries, and best of all was the fact that we got to travel all over WA to these amazing events.
By early 2017, Your Bartender had really picked up. We had doubled the number of events we had done each year for the past 3 years, and things didn’t look like they were slowing down. Meanwhile, the number of food trucks in Perth had also been doubling year on year. So we decided to sell, and focus all of our energy into Your Bartender.
From June 2017 until February 2018, I lived off savings and my overdraft, while working on Your Bartender to try and make it my stable income. Meanwhile, I had decided to go back to university to study International Resort Management, and I slowly ran out of money. That coincided with being offered a position at Blasta Brewing Company as the General Manager; an opportunity I couldn’t refuse. So I deferred university, hired someone to run Your Bartender events on the weekends, and stepped into my new shoes.
A year later, I had saved some money, and I decided to start a new business to help fill my weekdays, as events are mainly weekends. So I borrowed some more money, flew overseas, bought a whole lot of cocktail bar equipment and started www.CocktailCorner.com.au in March 2019. I also had enough savings to go back and finish my final semester of university. And I graduated in August 2019. (Don’t know what job I will ever need it for, but it’s done now!).
8 years on since it all began and I still I still have a part-time day job to help pay the bills. I spend almost every dollar that we make on improving the business. New glassware, new bars, new website, and just this month we signed a new commercial kitchen lease to expand into catering alongside our long-time-coming new business venture, ShuggySnacks.
But sometimes, just sometimes, there is a little left over for a few beers with friends.