I’ve met some really interesting folk so far on my little rum quest. Whenever I get a positive response to my meeting request, I’m always super grateful. In saying that, not a day goes by where I don’t worry about getting a “fuck off you weirdo” response to my invites – which I’m happy to say I have not received… yet!
Anyway, when I sent my request to the lovely Nikita Ward, I did not realise that gin was her thang – what, not EVERYONE’S life revolves around rum like mine? Fear not, I don’t discriminate!
PS40 is where we agreed to meet; an amazing little cocktail bar that I’ve been keen to check out for a while. I arrived a little earlier than expected (which sadly meant I interrupted Nikita eating her dinner) but Nikita didn’t seem to mind in the slightest. In fact, she greeted me like I had known her for years, grabbed me a stool up next to her, fixed me a drink (an amazing rum and coke made with Plantation OFTD Rum and their amazing, in-house produced wattle cola) and we got crackalacking!
I am always so curious how most people start off in this industry. It varies from person to person and Nikita is no exception.
My first degree was in fine arts and my second degree was in secondary education, so after a brief stint bar tending during uni, I went on to be a teacher! I taught art and dark room photography in Kalamunda High School but then realised you can’t drink and teach at the same time… and plus kids are really fucking mean! So, I moved to Sydney and right back to hospitality!
It’s at that point; I knew this was going to be a bloody fun interview…
After I finished my degree I got a job at a restaurant/ bar. I remember watching the guys behind the bar making up drinks and I thought that looks really fucking cool! You don’t have to touch food, you don’t have to walk around as much as the waitresses and you get to hang out in the bar! I used to badger them every day. Every time they made up a drink I was right there, wanting to know everything that was going in to it. The boys would also let me come in and muck around when it was quiet, which was great. I loved it, wanted to do it full time… so I did!
There’s always one point in your life you can look back at and go, “yeah, I really got my shit together there”. For Nikita, there were two:
Hazy Rose and The Rook played a huge part in helping me get my shit together. During this time, I took part in World Class and was introduced to a lot of people that work in the industry here in Sydney. I then moved on to an ambassador role with William Grant & Sons – at this point, Nikita shows me her Sailor Jerry tattoos on her elbows and I honestly died… in a good way – and then I went on to help open Jangling Jacks as a bar consultant, now I work as a brand ambassador for The West Winds Gin! Phew!
Like that point, there is always a certain person who (whether they know it or not) turns into your mentor.
My dear friend, Mitch Bushell really inspired me in this industry. Seeing him as a bartender and seeing him, as a brand ambassador is actually pretty amazing. He is just so professional and has such enthusiasm for this industry. It’s hard not to be in awe of him. He always goes that extra mile and has such an incredible work ethic that has influenced how I go about my work. I am incredibly grateful to have him in my life!
Nikita’s middle name is Chardonnay; she adores wine and is a brand ambassador for The West Winds Gin … but what about the rum?
Like most bartenders, a daiquiri was the first cocktail I ever learnt to make and after that, at Hula Bula Bar in Perth is where I learnt the rest about rum. I worked there for a good two and half years and together we would smash out nearly 5000 cocktails every month. Also, here is where I also had my most interesting rum experience, one of the boys was mucking around with something called Gunpowder rum…it definitely …interesting to say the least….
We wrapped up the interview and I thanked Nikita relentlessly for her time, (and apologised profusely for cutting into her dinner) but before I left we decided to make a gin/rum cocktail – Come on, it was pretty inevitable that this would happen!
I must admit, I was a little nervous. Gin has never agreed with me but I was intrigued. The lovely James Snelgrove, who you will see shooting the breeze behind the PS40 bar, made us a very yummy rendition of a Suffering Bastard. It was honestly gorgeous! So, for your taste buds pleasure, I noted the recipe for you all the try at home.
All hail, The Suffering Bastard
- Plantation 3 star white rum
- The West Winds Gin- The Cutlass (which is made with lots of Australian elements, including cinnamon myrtle, lemon myrtle and Australian bush tomato)
- Lime cordial or fresh lime and sugar
- PS Blackstrap Ginger Soda
- Angostura bitters
More information at www.thewestwindsgin.com
You can buy The West Winds Gin at all good alcohol retailers such as Dan Murphy’s, Vintage Cellars, Camperdown Cellars etc.
Photography © by Kara’s Rum Quest – Copyright: All rights reserved.
This article is posted on karasrumquest.com – All rights reserved – Copyright © 2017.