Sam Ross: Melbourne Bartender In New York

Melbourne is a city known for its numerous bars and the wide range of cocktails available. These bars are often ranked among the best in the world, and that’s not just Milk Bar talking, that’s fact! Go Melbourne! It won’t come as a shock to you then that former Melbourne bartender Sam Ross is considered one of the best and most influential mixologists in the world, and has struck it big in New York’s bar scene at his bar Attaboy. He’s currently back in town as the official ambassador for Bar Schweppes in the Birdcage for the Melbourne Cup carnival.

Why did you want to become a bartender, and what got you so keen on cocktails?
My first shift behind a bar was as a bar back at the age of fifteen. It was love at first sight. I adored being back there, loved the teamwork and the buzz if it. I never wanted to do anything else.

What made you decide to head over to New York?
It was always my plan. As soon as I was of legal drinking age in the US, I was heading to New York City. Even as a kid, before I even knew I wanted to be in bars, the idea of moving to New York was always so appealing.

How does New York and LA’s bar scenes compare to Melbourne’s bar scene?
High levels of customer service. And bartenders that like to have fun.

Tell us a bit about Comme Ca,the cocktail program you teach in LA.
At the time (2007), Los Angeles was definitely a little lacking in terms of an established cocktail scene. But with Comme Ca, we were able to build a program from scratch and train up a team of super keen bartenders to lead the charge out there. These guys have since gone on to open and run some of the finest cocktail joints LA has to offer and knowing that they all got their initial training at Comme Ca is very rewarding.

Do you get many Hollywood heavyweights come into your New York bar Attaboy? What are they like to serve?
All of them! Probably. Maybe. It’s dark in there!

What will you be doing with yourself at Bar Schweppes for the Melbourne Cup Carnival? It must be great fun getting to show off your skills around the world like this.
Hanging out with my mate Rich Sommer! He’s a big cocktail fan and a regular at the bar and Schweppes have brought him out with me to talk cocktails and drink cocktails and gamble and cause small amounts of mischief and drink more cocktails. Not a bad deal really…

Originally published here at milkbarmag.com on Monday 3 November 2014

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