The Cocktail Initiative

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Simon Hersee has mastered the art of not just cocktail making, but bar service with style. His new business “The Cocktail Initiative” is a professional bar tending service that comes to you! Simon tells us more.

When and where did your career in hospitality begin?

A long time ago! Early ‘90s, it would have been … shortly after I left school. In Newcastle, at the Great Northern Hotel, working the Lobby Bar right on the dancefloor. Every time the DJ played Play That Funky Music, I’d get up and dance on the bar! This is what was important back then!    

In saying that, however, as a wide-eyed newcomer to the industry it was here that I began experimenting with techniques and flavour combinations that I was researching by visiting Sydney’s best bars.

You have forged a career as not just a bar tender, but creative cocktail curator. Tell us how your interest developed in this specialty.

I think that once you develop a passion for something, it is naturally progressive to immerse yourself in learning and research. Alcohol has an incredibly colourful history, and behind every single bottle on every single backbar lies a story of love, of pain, of strength and determination. It is a fascinating journey! The heartbreaking love story behind the worldwide success of Campari is a romanticist’s dream! 

Nearly 20 years behind cocktail bars has led me to a different place … your place … where my working environment is, shall I say …more favourable than the bars we have here! 

So what is the art of flairing?

Flair bartending is the art of throwing stuff around while you’re making a drink! We’ve all seen the movie Cocktail … That’s what is known as exhibition flairing, and while a well-choreographed flair performance is a truly unforgettable experience, these days flair bars are found only in the States and the UK. Bartenders worth their salt have ended up figuring, “What’s more important here … balancing bottles on my earlobe or creating a smart, well balanced cocktail and hopefully ensuring some return business?”

 Working flair is much more sophisticated and impressive, and can be as simple as executing multiple orders efficiently, or being unforgettable behind the bar. Lamentably, it’s far too easy to work behind a bar, but it takes skill and experience to actually “work” a bar properly!

The Cocktail Initiative has just launched on the Mid North Coast – tell us what the business offers.

People love to spend time with friends, and they love to host in their own home. The Cocktail Initiative offers a professional service to those who prefer to enjoy a well-made libation or two at their own home with friends, rather than out in noisy environments paying overs for sub-standard drinks! It is a complete solution to your drinks catering requirements, and is available for private events such as engagement parties, weddings, hen’s nights, housewarming parties … any occasion that requires a touch of class! 

As well, The Cocktail Initiative offers Cocktail Masterclasses, and Staff Development packages for licensed venues.

What would be your fave cocktail or drink to make?

Different drinks for different times of the week. I love drinking Negronis. Every bartender should. I like mine a little heavier on the gin and with a dash of grapefruit bitters. Maple Manhattans go down pretty well too, and of course a full-bodied, central-American rum, neat, with a stogie … yep! 

I have always seen the appeal of serving alcohol neat or on the rocks. The recipient will always be somewhat knowledgeable about their spirit or liqueur of choice, and if you’re able to make it that bit more special … like an orange twist with a Grand Marnier, a couple of big rocks with a smoky single malt, or an explanation as to why a Reposado Tequila will drink differently to an Anejo Tequila, will be subtly appreciated, guaranteed!

Where can we find out more?

The Cocktail Initiative has a Facebook page, has just arrived on Instagram and a website ( or I can be emailed at – and I encourage an initial, obligation-free consultation to discuss your event and how I may be able to help make it incredible!

Thanks Simon.

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