ORIGINAL ARTICLE SOURCE : HUNTER HUNTER : THE LANDING LAUNCH A BRAND NEW MENU AND COCKTAIL LIST
MEET: Ollie Margan, one of Australia’s top bartenders, who has helped recreate The Landing’s cocktail menu
BY SOPHIE KEPREOTES
Ollie Margan, who was recently named in the Drinks World Magazine Top 25 Australian bar influencers, is a Hunter Valley native who currently calls Adelaide home. You might recognise that famous Margan surname from his parents Andrew and Lisa’s vineyard, Margan Wines.
Ollie has given his expertise to The Landing where he has helped them re-work their cocktail and bar list. With The Landing’s summer launch set to take place this Friday, you can catch Ollie behind the bar serving up his cocktail creations.
With your family’s background in winemaking, was having a career in hospitality inevitable?
It was something that I perhaps fought for a little while, but looking back on a now 11 year working career, it is all I have ever done. For me it is more of a lifestyle choice; I never wanted my work to feel mundane or anti-social. Whether it be working in a bar, restaurant or in the winery, it is such a dynamic career and no day is the same. It keeps life interesting!
How did your passion and interest in cocktail making come about?
I have always had a massive passion for flavour. I didn’t start working in bars until late 2013, but ever since I can remember, flavours, and how they interact has always fascinated me. I actually wanted to be a chef, but when I moved to Adelaide I knew no one, and figured front of house was a more social pursuit. From there it all just started progressing rapidly – and now I find myself in a venue that pushes out well over 1000 cocktails a week.
You currently run and co-own Maybe Mae and Bread & Bone in Adelaide. What do you love most about living in Adelaide?
Adelaide is such an open-minded audience. Quite often in smaller cities [such as Adelaide] you are limited in your creativity due to the conservative nature of your customers. It is so great to be able to do as much as we are capable of doing at Maybe Mae and still maintain the business side of things. In general though, Adelaide is just like Newcastle in many ways, so there is a nostalgic appeal for me – it is at the end of the day, a big country town by the sea. Takes a lot longer to drive for a surf there though.
You have helped create the new cocktail menu at The Landing. As a Hunter Valley native, what has it been like to be back home working?
I love the Hunter. It is such a familiar place for me, even after being away for half a decade. I look for any excuse to come back here! Also great to be doing the sort of thing I am doing in Adelaide, back home with the family.
What are your top three cocktails to try at The Landing?
The “Bill Murray” is a drink that has been following me around for a while – I won a fairly major competition last year with it and get asked for it off menu quite regularly. It is a Japanese whisky sour with apricot and some fresh mint added.
The “Thai Donkey” is a tasty gin based cocktail with fresh coriander, lime and spicy ginger beer.
The “Positano Spritz” should also be quite popular with Pimms, Margan Vermouth, honey and watermelon soda.
How does the bar scene compare to your experiences in other cities?
Newcastle is a city that is just starting on an exciting trajectory. I feel like it is poised to undergo a similar transition to cities such as Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. A focus on the quality of drinks in favour of quantity, coupled with thoughtful design, branding and offering. I can’t wait to see what comes from it!