World's Best Bars: Our Interview with Michael Madrusan from The Everleigh
Returning for its sixth year, The World’s 50 Best Bars Awards is the most influential and respected global survey of its kind. We interviewed Michael Madrusan from Melbourne contender The Everleigh. Check out our Best Bars in Melbourne.
The awards are the result of a worldwide industry survey produced by Drinks International, the leading magazine for the global drinks industry. Drinks International coordinates the final list based on nominations from an academy of over 400 of the most renowned names in the drinks industry, including Lewis Jaffrey, Salvatore Calabrese, Charlie Ainsbury, Gaz Regan, Peter Dorelli and Tim Phillips.
Update results (Australian bars in top 30):
Melbourne's Black Pearl at number 10
Melbourne's The Everleigh at number 25
Sydney bars are also celebrating with Baxter Inn at number 6 and Bulletin Place at number 28.
Here is our interview with Michael Madrusan from Melbourne bar and local favourite The Everleigh:
TWLM: What makes a world 50 best bar?
Michael Madrusan: A world 50 best bar is one that recognises its responsibility to meet international standards without failing to understand the needs of their local clientele. A world's best bar understands the basic principles required to meet the highest benchmark internationally and maintains these consistently, whilst always pushing the boundaries and striving for excellence in terms of approach, service and product.
TWLM: What are main trends in world drinking culture?
Michael Madrusan: In a culture of convenience, we have become used to customers demanding and expecting a product that is increasingly accessible. They want great drinks fast, and there's no reason why we can't give it to them. When it comes to quality, there's no room for sacrifices and competition is such that people know where to go to get a better drink. The customer is more educated than ever, which is something that should be celebrated and utilised. In response to our new venture in 2015, The Everleigh Bottling Co., we've remarked a new understanding and appreciation for pre-batching and the skill involved in pre-preparing cocktails on a large scale to the exact same standard and specification as a single mixed drink. It's only right that this age old technique is experiencing a new lease of life at a time when it's most relevant.
Whether bottling or tending the bar, each and every element of the drink has to be considered and continually revised, from glassware to ice. In launching Navy Strength Ice Co. this year, we've been able to take our appreciation for the way a drink is chilled and served to the next level and the response has been outstanding. We're still fascinated to see instagram images of beautiful mixed drinks served over ugly white rocks of ice. This one might be a slow burner, but with ongoing education and awareness in the industry of the vital role that ice plays in mixed drinks, we expect to see a lot less of these images by this time next year!
TWLM: Who are the greatest influences?
Michael Madrusan: From the time I moved to New York in 2003 as far as I was concerned, there was only one influencer in the drinks business, Sacha Petraske. I was drawn to Milk and Honey to experience this man's renowned military style training and I thank him for the impact that training had on me and subsequently, my staff and my businesses. His impeccable attention to detail is something I never ceased to admire and the reason I believe The Everleigh is recognised as one of the top 50 world's best bars.
We also have to thank Dale Degroff, credited for reintroducing the importance of using fresh juice. He himself was also one of Sacha's main influencers.
TWLM: What are your top few bar scene cities in the world?
Michael Madrusan: The New York bar scene will always have a big piece of my heart. The city is constantly striving to serve better drinks, more efficiently, and it's a scene we should all take inspiration from.
I was in London again earlier this year and it still never ceases to disappoint. I was surprised and amazed by the growth in great cocktail bars especially. Top class drinks are no longer limited to the centralised districts, instead fine drinking establishments can be found across the city, each with their own clear identity and offering. It's an exciting scene for drinking right now.
TWLM: What do you think of shifts in the whisky scene, eg Japanese v Scotch whisky?
Michael Madrusan: Japanese whisky has certainly got a lot of attention this year. Japanese is a lighter style whisky therefore appeals to a broader audience. In Australia we're definitely noticing a rise in Japanese whisky drinkers, along with a general interest in Japanese culture, including trends in dining.
My suggestion is Japanese for breakfast, and Scotch for dinner.
TWLM: Are we seeing more boutique spirits on the scene or is it still major brands driving drinking culture?
Michael Madrusan: It's always a joy to see incredibly talented and inspired people come out with excellent products in the boutique market. There's definitely a need for more exposure and funding to help the industry celebrate these types of ventures more broadly.
TWLM: What makes a great bartender or mixologist?
Michael Madrusan: A great bartender is someone takes what they do seriously, but doesn't take themselves too seriously. This isn't rocket science. A great bartender or service professional should be able to make sure every customer in the room is having the night of their life. They should be educated and socially aware - be able to tell a cracking joke and chat about current events whilst whipping up a perfectly balanced martini of choice.
TWLM: Is there more attention now on food and drink pairing? And on sophistication of bar snacks?
Michael Madrusan: Being based in Melbourne, we certainly see the importance of a sophisticated food selection to compliment your drinks offering. Again, people want to be able to have what they want when they want it, which has inspired a rise in one-stop-shops, and casual dining. Ease and convenience are key, but that is not to say that quality is being compromised, at least in this city. Great drinks and great food are affordable and all in one place. People want to grab a bite and catch up with friends over a drink after work, without the worry of going home to cook.
TWLM: Can you provide a signature cocktail recipe and image?
Michael Madrusan: A great unsung classic that we never tire of is the Quill, a twist on everyone's favourite aperitif cocktail, The Negroni, spiced up and dried out with the addition of a few dashes of absinthe.
1oz Sweet Vermouth
3 dashes of Absinthe