What it takes to run Australia’s best bar

Back in January a new bar opened in The Rocks in Sydney, Maybe Sammy was the new bar concept from the team behind Maybe Frank and nine months later it is enjoying huge success.

The bar was named Best New International Cocktail Bar at the 2019 Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards; it received multiple nominations at the 2019 Australian Liquor Industry Awards, including Best New Bar, Best Cocktail List and Bar of the Year and then last week was named as the highest ranked Australian bar by the World’s 50 Best Bars.

Maybe Sammy ranked 43rd in that list, the only Australian bar in the top 50, and co-owner Vince Lombardo told Bars and Clubs that good recruitment, creative freedom and staff training were just some of the things that had helped the team to be so successful in such a short period of time.

“One of the big things when we decided to open Maybe Sammy was that we recruited really well, we put a really strong team together and we’ve let them be as creative as the want to be,” Lombardo said.

“We knew exactly what we wanted to do with Maybe Sammy, being honest I didn’t expect it to be this successful this quickly – it’s a good surprise – but it’s really down to the team. We’ve got an amazing team working down there and it’s like a soccer team. If you put Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in the same team there’s a big chance you are going win.

“The great thing about this bar team is they constantly want to keep changing things, they are looking at new things. We really give them creative freedom.”

He added: “We wanted to create something special, it’s a hotel bar without the hotel. But being one of these top bars it’s about more than the fitout. It’s about the way you feel when you walk into the bar, it’s the way you are greeted, the service you get. It’s the quality of the drinks and cocktails, it’s everything and to win these competitions everything has to be on point all the time.

“You walk into Dante and you just say ‘I love it, it’s cool’ and that’s what it’s about. I think it’s impossible that anyone would walk in there and not like it.

“And that’s what we want with Maybe Sammy, we want people to walk in and say ‘wow’ but that can’t last, so we then want to take that wow to another level. Stef and I look at that in two ways, one is to let our guys show their personality and the second is staff training.

“We make sure everyone understands it’s always about the customer and never about our egos, if customers don’t like something or it’s not selling then we just take it off the menu even if we think it’s great. It’s not about us, it’s about the customer.”

As well as the World 50 Best Bars list, the list of bars 51 to 100 was also published and that saw Australia fare much better with four bars featuring: Bulletin Place (Sydney) at #66, The Baxter Inn (Sydney) at #79, Black Pearl (Melbourne) at #80 and new entry PS40 (Sydney) at #95.

Co-owner Stefano Catino was in London to receive the award and was understandably delighted.

“We are blown away that Maybe Sammy has been so well received by our national and international peers. To be named as one of The World’s Best 50 Bars is such an honour, especially within our first year. We had a clear vision for Maybe Sammy and are very grateful to our amazing team for bringing it to life. We really couldn’t have done it without them.”

Lombardo agreed with the team sentiment, telling Bars and Clubs: ““I am delighted for the team, this win is great for them and for all the hard work that they have put in since we opened nine months ago.”

New York bar Dante was named as the number one bar in the world, and Lombardo wanted to offer his congratulations: “I also want to say congratulations to the number one bar in the world, in Dante. Me, Andrea and Stef went over a couple of months ago and we did a Maybe Sammy pop-up at Dante. Those guys are great, they are really professional and they really deserve that win, they are pretty amazing.”

The World’s 50 Best Bars is an annual list that celebrates the best of the international drinks industry. It provides an annual ranking of bars as voted by more than 500 drinks experts from across the world, including renowned bartenders and consultants, drinks writers and cocktail specialists. The list, which has been published annually since 2009, represents the ultimate international guide to the world’s top bars and drinking destinations and has become the most anticipated ranking for drinks professionals and cocktail aficionados across the world.

The World 50 Best Bars:

  1. Dante, New York
  2. Connaught Bar, London
  3. Floreria Atlanticio, Buenos Aires
  4. The Nomad, New York
  5. American Bar, London
  6. The Clumsies, Athens
  7. Attaboy, New York
  8. Atlas, Singapore
  9. The Old Man, Hong Kong
  10. Licoreria Limantour, Mexico City
  11. Manhattan, Singapore
  12. Native, Singapore
  13. Carnaval, Lima
  14. Katana Kitten, New York
  15. Guilhotina, Sao Paulo
  16. Three Sheets, London
  17. Himkok, Oslo
  18. High Five, Tokyo
  19. Salmon Guru, Madrid
  20. Paradiso, Barcelona
  21. Induldge Experimental Bistro, Taipei
  22. The Dead Rabbit, New York
  23. Coupette, London
  24. The SG Club, Tokyo
  25. Dr. Stravinsky, Barcelona
  26. Employees Only, New York
  27. El Copitas, St Petersburg
  28. Scout, London
  29. Jigger & Pony, Singapore
  30. Operation Dagger, Singapore
  31. Baba Au Rum, Athens
  32. La Factoria, San Juan
  33. Presidente, Buenos Aires
  34. Schumann’s Munic
  35. Speak Low, Shanghai
  36. Little Red Door, Paris
  37. Tjoget, Stockholm
  38. The Old Man, Singapore
  39. Lyaness, London
  40. Happiness Forgets, London
  41. Swift, London
  42. Trick Dog, San Francisco
  43. Maybe Sammy, Sydney
  44. 1930, Milan
  45. Sober Company, Shanghai
  46. Electric Bing Sutt, Beirut
  47. Kwant, London
  48. Artesian, London
  49. Coa, Hong Kong
  50. Jerry Thomas Speakeasy, Rome
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