There’s a lot more to cocktails than paper umbrellas and Fluffy Ducks, as Julie-anne Sprague discovered (much to her delight) recently.

IF you think a cocktail is simply a colourful up-market drink and the only one you’ve tried is a Fluffy Duck, then you haven’t experienced the true delights created by Perth’s leading movers and shakers, or ‘mixologists’, as they are known.

A mixologist is not a bar tender, they are chefs of liquor, and Perth has three of the nation’s finest creators of flavoursome alcoholic masterpieces.

Andrew Freeman, 26, Jonna Robberman, 25, and Jules Andrews, 33, are exceptional mixologists who have not only an intimate knowledge of cocktail ingredients, but are professional flairers (the fancy throwing and spinning of bottles Tom Cruise style).

The theatrical performance was exemplified and commercialised in the 1980s flick Cocktail, and one of our elite bar stars has worked for the company that trained Tom Cruise and Brian Brown.

Jules started his cocktail career at TGI Friday in London, the same place that ran a flairing competition to decide who would train the Hollywood stars.

“TGI Friday is responsible for the start of the cocktail era. Its first store was where some of cocktail was filmed. The first competition for mixologists was when TGI needed to train Tom Cruise,” he says.

Jules worked for the legendary bar group in the UK, which opened its first store in the 1960s. He returned to Australia to help TGI open its first Australian store in Melbourne. Jules says that, while flairing is important, a customer shouldn’t have to wait an extraordinary amount of time for the show.

“It should be conducive to making a drink. If you are pratting around with a bottle and someone is standing waiting for a drink, they won’t be too happy,” Jules says.

He says there is a distinct difference between fixing someone a drink and mixing someone a drink.

“You have to have a lot of passion and be a people person. There is a lot of time involved,” Jules says.

“It’s about coming up with something special. You can go to any bar and order a gin and tonic.”

Andrew also has worked in the eastern states and internationally and enjoys being able to create new and exciting mixes.

“I love trying to create something for someone that they’d really enjoy. I ask people what sort of fruit they like, what their favourite colour is and so forth, and come up with something that they’ll love,” Andrew says.

And, like a chef, Andrew uses only the best ingredients to produce his concoctions.

“A good fruit cocktail uses fresh fruit. I wouldn’t use fruit that the chefs wouldn’t use to cook with,” he says.

Jonna judges at various competitions and says determining a good cocktail depends on the colour, taste, and the way it is constructed.

“A number of things go into the mix,” he says.

“You have to look at the colour and the way it looks. If you were judging food and a pasta was just dumped on a plate it wouldn’t rate well.”

Jonna says he and the other mixologists in Perth are experienced and talented enough to pour exceptional quality mixes.

“People just order what is fashionable,” he says.

“I like to find out what they normally drink and take them on a journey.”

Instead of ordering a Fluffy Duck or Cosmopolitan next time you visit a bar with a dedicated mixologist, ask the expert to conjure up their latest mix.

Hot at the moment are stick drinks. Some of the ingredients are ‘muddled’ in a mortar and pestle. A current favourite stick drink is a Capriosicca (Brazillian drink made with lime and sugar over lots of crushed ice and premium vodka). The important thing to remember is to trust the mixologist and let them do the fancy stuff while you sit back, watch the entertainment and get something delightfully original to drink.

Andrew Freeman

C Restaurant

Level 33

44 St Georges Tce


Jonna Robberman

446 Beaufort Street


Jules Andrews

Onyx Bar

72 Outram Street

West Perth

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