Bars & Pubs

Meet The Bartender | Alex Dahlenburg From GRAIN Bar

By Anna Franklyn
17th Jan 2017

In case you missed it, Bourbon is back in a big way. That’s why it wasn’t all that surprising that serious bartenders from all over Australia were falling over themselves at the chance to win the prize of a lifetime—a trip to Kentucky, the Bourbon capital of the world, and the chance meet the Master Distillers of Wild Turkey and learn from their wily ways.

We’re pretty stoked to be able to announce that Alex Dahlenburg from Sydney’s very own GRAIN Bar was chosen as the winner, which is unsurprising considering GRAIN is home to one of Australia’s largest whiskey collections.

This gal has been in the drinking business for upwards of 10 years and there is no doubt she knows her shizz when it comes to whiskey, so if you're looking for some sage advice picked up from years behind the bar, you've come to the right place! Her favourite drink is a boilermaker and she hates it when people show up to a bar with 39 of their friends without a booking and ask if there is a spare area—take note everyone! But let’s hand it over to her for some tips on good drinking, taking pride in your work, no matter what you're doing, and other kernels of wisdom on how to generally win at life. 

1. Drink The Good Stuff

Don’t save it or collect it, just drink it already, and make sure you share it with your buds! I’ve already drunk all the bottles I brought back from Wild Turkey with me and they were awesome, I shared them with my work family at Grain who held the fort while I was off having the time of my life.

2. Meet New People!

I travelled to Wild Turkey with four guys from all around Australia. We didn’t know each other but from the moment we all met in Dallas waiting for our connecting flight to Louisville we were inseparable. I could not have asked for a better bunch of legends and I know that if I walked into one of their bars, we’d pull up a stool and start reminiscing about the inside jokes and the memories from sitting around a campfire swigging out of a bottle. We all agreed it was one of the best experiences of our lives. You have to be open to those experiences and meeting new people or you miss out.

3. Be The Best At Whatever You Are Doing

Whether it’s washing dishes, slinging drinks or being a boss. Do what you’re doing with passion and conviction. The passion I saw from the Russel family was inspiring, all three generations of men talking about Wild Turkey and the whiskey industry they have dedicated their lives to. Their passion was moving and I only hope I can achieve that kind of dedication to my craft. Inspire people with your passion.

4. Don’t Change For Anyone!

To those who don’t know me well, I seem pretty tough. I’m strong-willed and independent, but I’m also a big softy and get extremely emotional when I’m happy.

On my recent trip to Kentucky with Wild Turkey we had dinner on a hill above the Kentucky River within the Wild Turkey Estate. I was with the entire group and we’d just had a rye and bourbon straight out of barrels that Eddie Russel had opened for us in one of the original barrel houses. We sat down to an amazing dinner under festoon lighting as we watched the sun set. It was one of the most magical moments I have ever experienced and here I was, tearing up like a kid who dropped their ice cream. A blubbering mess. But I embraced it, this is who I am. It was unforgettable!

5. Practise The ‘F’ Word

Family. They might disagree at times but when it comes down to it, they’ve always got each other’s back. I practice a family mentality with my teams. They all know that the F word means we love and accept each other for who we are and we don’t try and change people. See point one!

6. Honesty Is The Best Policy

So we all know where we stand with each other. Honesty is the best policy, don’t play games, unless it’s Twister or Cards Against Humanity. 

7. Be Kind

No explanation needed for this one.

About Grain

Spirits, wine and cocktail bar, Grain celebrates the fine craft of drinking with one heck of a menu of boutique beers, world-class wines, carefully-crafted cocktails, premium spirits including one of Australia’s largest whisky selections, and some of the city’s best bar food.

See, told you Alex was an absolute boss. Now go and order yourself an old fashioned and call it a day.

Want more? Head over to Wild Turkey and start creating your own delish cocktails now!

Image credit: Frederica Portentoso

Editor's note: This article is sponsored by Wild Turkey and wholly endorsed by The Urban List. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make The Urban List possible. Please click here for more information on our editorial policy.

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