Parisian cocktail specialist venue, Little Red Door, has concluded a tour which saw them collaborate with RE bar, Black Pearl and Byrdi.
Alex Francis, Bar Director at Little Red Door (recently ranked at number five in the World’s 50 Best Bars), explained that the tour first began as a celebration of a milestone year for the venue.
“The conversation started for our 10th Anniversary & Black Pearl’s 21st Anniversary, but it [an Australian visit] was something we’d wanted to do for so long,” Alex says.
“The tour could not have gone better, we were overwhelmed by the warmth we experienced in both Sydney & Melbourne, and were completely taken aback by how diverse the offerings you could find across the two cities,” he continued.
“In terms of our experience in working with the three venues, it was probably the first time we’ve work with venues where actually the overlap in our approaches was so much that we had to rethink how we built the offerings to ensure that our menus were distinctly different from that of our hosts, which was a really exciting challenge.”
Alex was also quick to commend the Australian industry for its forward-looking nature.
“Australia has some of the world’s most progressive bars and one of the world’s most distinct agricultural landscapes, and so both were something we wanted to explore and experience first hand.”
Little Red Door chose three of Australia’s best bars to partner with, and Alex explained how these collaborations had emerged.
“All three venues and operators are real idols to us in each of their own way.”
“Black Pearl have been part of the very top of the international bar industry for so long that when Tash [Conte] reached out to us to celebrate with them this year we couldn’t say no, it was a real honour for her to think of us,” Alex comments.
“Matt Whiley and RE have been inspirations since they opened, he’s constantly innovating from a sustainability point of view and questions industry norms, and to get to see their process was an absolute must in our itinerary.”
Alex also suggested that Little Red Door could learn from this exchange of ideas with Australian bars.
“Finally, Byrdi probably works most closely to the way we operate in Little Red Door, but come at it from such a high level when it comes to the drinking/dining experience and the overlap of the two, the experience Luke [Whearty] and Aki [Nishikura] bring to the operation was really eye opening to us about how Little Red Door could keep evolving in this space.”
In this regard, each of the three bars reflected something of the way that Alex and Little Red Door approach hospitality.
“For us great bartending and hospitality comes from a desire to engage with guests beyond the drink, creating an environment where for a brief moment you can discover new ideas, flavours and experiences from the comfort of a big blue satin bar stool.”
Alex, who has held a range of roles in the alcohol industry in both France and the UK, has an interesting and informed perspective on the Australian hospitality industry.
“We’d heard so much about the lifestyle culture in Australia, but seeing how that translated to the consumer and the staff member experiences day to day was so interesting,” Alex says.
“Sydney was such a casual location driven environment which you can only really find around the Mediterranean in Europe, but Melbourne was so reminiscent of London and NYC in that constant intrigue from consumers for new and exciting food and drink.”
However, it was the working practices in Australia that really caught Alex’s eye.
“What was most surprising though was how similar the experiences for the teams were compared to France in terms of employment laws and cultural norms,we take it for granted in France shorter working weeks and holidays norms and we rarely find that when we travel around the world and it was so great to see in Australia.
“I can completely understand why so many Europeans end up staying here long term.”