Adam Dow, General Manager of Sydney’s Dead Ringer, says he was more prepared than he’s ever been when he took to the stage in the Australian final of Bacardi Legacy.
But the months of preparation effort and weeks of focus getting into the perfect mindset doesn’t mean it was easy.
“I’ve done a lot of public speaking really so presenting isn’t really a problem for me,” Dow said.
“But when you’re on stage, and you have a time limit that’s ticking at you, you’re standing in front of a room of people that you either know very well or that you respect in the industry and they’re all staring at you, and you know it’s being filmed, all you’re thinking is please nothing go wrong!”
It was Dow’s second time entering Legacy, and after getting close last year, this time around he was determined to do even better. All of his decisions were very deliberate this year, learning from his previous experience in the competition.
“Bacardi Legacy is all about ‘can it be made everywhere?’ So I had to think really carefully about every ingredient. But you can’t just make another mojito, or a mojito with Angostura Bitters because it’s been done,” Dow said.
“So I thought, if this is a drink that is going to be made on a cruise ship, or it’s going to be made by a bartender in Sri Lanka, are they going to have access to these ingredients? It was about finding the drink that is relatable and replicable and delicious, but also maybe had a little point of difference that would distinguish me from other entries.”
The drink that Dow created with this thought process is called The Golden Rule, and is influenced by his approach to hospitality and cocktail culture.
Dow says that he sees there being “families of classic cocktails and everything starts there”.
“My drink is a style of sour really, it has a spirit base, a sour element which is the lime juice, honey which is the sweetener, and then the modifiers of Peychaud’s Bitters and rosewater. For me, creating cocktails all comes back to a sort of classic structure of drinks.”
The cocktail’s namesake rule is from Danny Meyer’s book Setting the Table, and says to treat others the way you would like to be treated. However, what Meyer’s says in the book, and what Dow agrees with, is that the rule should actually be a bit different.
“The way you should treat people, in hospitality and in life, is how they wish to be treated. In the hospitality world, it’s not treating every guest the same, it’s about treating every guest differently almost… It’s about giving serious thought to every facet of a guest experience,” Dow said.
We probably don’t speak to our grandparents the same way we speak to our friends, and in the same way, Dow said we shouldn’t assume all patrons have the same expectations. This ability to endeavour and connect on different levels is one he believes is present not only in the Australian hospitality industry, but in the Australian population as well.
In preparing for Legacy’s global final in Miami in May, Dow is hoping to bring this part of our culture to the international stage, as it’s something that has always made him enjoy the work he does.
“It’s genuine hospitality that you get from Australian bartenders and there’s this casual sort of laid back service, still serious but able to laugh at ourselves and get on a personal level with guests,” Dow said.
“It’s not stiff service, it’s peer to peer and speaking adult to adult, that I really like. The best bartenders are just great hosts and they’re a little bit cheeky and can make someone laugh and feel special at the same time. That’s what I’d like to get across.
“What’s kept me in the industry is probably the day to day stuff of the people you work with and the customers you serve, and this kind of energy that I go to work and never hate what I do.”
Ahead of the final he will also be continuing to prepare in the same way that helped him before the Australian final. In the lead up to the Melbourne event, he spoke at length to previous winners and people in the industry with experience judging or entering competitions, to get insight into what approaches work best.
In the next few months Dow will be “trying to chat to people who’ve been to Globals before, at least about what it’s like and even just how to conduct yourself in front of other competitors and brand ambassadors, because it’s something that you don’t have to do and you don’t really think about.”
“I’ll probably be focused on enjoying the moment and Miami, but I want to go win it as well… Australia’s never had a global winner, and Bacardi Australia have placed a lot of trust in me so I have my eye on that.”
We wish Adam all the best at the global final.