Meet the Bartender, Aaron Gaulke, Bennelong

I first met Aaron at a Hendrick’s event hosted by Leslie Gracie. This involved gin, racing beetles and wearing tribal headdresses. I have a picture somewhere, but I’m not sure he’d thank me for sharing it!

Where do you work?

Bennelong restaurant at the Opera House

How long have you been mixing drinks?

11 years and the previous 10 working as a chef.

Tell me a bit about your bartending journey

I started  as a 14 yr old bakers assistant before getting an apprenticeship at 16. I worked in hatted and Michelin-starred restaurants, then got an opportunity to move behind ‘the pine’ to learn the front of house side of the business.  It helped me understand what takes numerous items on a plate, to be distilled into one mouthful in a glass and still hit a harmonious balance. From there I spent time in a true modernist cocktail bar, distilling tinctures, bitters, and spirits, using Adrian Ferrian and Harold McGee as inspiration.
Since coming back to Australia I have worked with the truly gifted Eau de Vie (Sydney) team, before opening the Intercontintal Double Bay and now Bennelong.

What is the best thing about your job?

The nuanced, numerous and varied world of flavor, balance and texture, plus the wide-range of bars and the drinks within.

Who/what inspires you?

Drinks-wise it doesn’t take much to get inspired. It might be a key ingredient, a flavour, a sight, or a sound. Often smells, conversations, or a memory are trigger points for getting the creative juices flowing.

In life- good times, good food, good conversation, good humour, and of course good drinks inspire me!

Aaron behind the bar at Bennelong. Look at the view!

What’s your favourite gin and why and how do you like to drink it?

Currently something like Ferdinand’s Saar gin or The Botanist.

If I’m at home in the backyard, it’s 3 fingers of gin to 3 fingers of Mediterranean tonic and a herb like rosemary, sage or mint. If I’m out and about, it’s a Last Word.

A customer has never tried gin before, what gin-based drink would you recommend?

A South Side.. or an East Side.. both are refreshing, safe combinations that a non gin drinker can enjoy and appreciate gin’s versatility and character.

Your favourite gin cocktail, and why?

The Last Word, gin, chartreuse, maraschino and lime!

Which are your favourite bars (anywhere in the world)?

Employees Only, Dead Rabbit, Experimental Cocktail Club, Boilermaker House, The Everleigh, Trailer Happiness,  Eau De Vie Sydney, Henrietta’s, Baxter Inn, The Barber Shop… to name but a few!

What’s next? Any future plans?

Finish the end of month stock take!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.