What we drank
Rainbow: Pint of Guinness £5
Hebe: Whiskey Smash – Roe & Co Irish Whiskey, Nolly Prat, Mint and Spinach Syrup, Orange Bitters £9
Rainbow is the UK Tia Maria Brand ambassador, but her role takes her all over the world. She is so much more than her job title and her spirit and drive have taken her career from one side of the world, to right here in London.
How long have you been in hospitality?
15 years. I’m from Australia and in Australia, you can get a job at 14 years and 9 months. Obviously, you can’t serve alcohol. I work in my…Uncles’? You know in Asian communities, he’s something like met second cousin’s uncle twice removed or I think he’s my mum’s second cousin? I worked in his restaurant as a waitress and I was tiny. I looked like a doll. It was a traditional Thai restaurant and they had me in the silk jacket and when I was 15 I looked about 10. I’ve always had that really young Asianess.
I actually owned my first cocktail shaker when I was 16. My parents actually let me have a cocktail party. They were like ‘ we’d rather you know about alcohol and drink it in a safe space than drink at some house party where you get absolutely obliterated on turps’. We did canapés, starters, mains, desserts. All of my friends were told to bring a bottle of alcohol, like a spirit and my mum brought a few ingredients home (My mum’s a bartender). I think the first cocktail I drank was a screwdriver. Oh no! It was a Harvey Wallbanger, orange juice, vodka and
I really wanted to become a Chef. I got accepted into the top culinary school in Sydney, but not on a scholarship and it was hella expensive. When I turned 18 my parents were like we will do this if you are sure this is what you want to do. My mum was like hospitality is hard are you sure you want to do it? I was like, to make sure, I will take a gap year and then we can make the decision. I ended up moving to Melbourne and worked in Crown Casino. The chefs I worked with were the angriest, most spiteful people I’d ever met in my life (except for two of them). I knew I never wanted to be in a position where I was that angry in my life, so I decided not to become a chef.
How did you end up with Tia Maria?
I worked the Tia Maria stand at London Cocktail Week in 2016/17? Wait, what year are we in? I worked with them for two years and done three London Cocktail weeks with them, so whatever that is. So yeah, I worked that Tia Maria event and they then requested me for the rest of the events for the year. Eventually they were like ‘Do you want to be the Brand Ambassador’? I did my interview in El Camion. I was the Coffee Project manager and then it turned into this.
What’s your day to day like?
Anywhere and everywhere. The Coffee Project itself is focusing on education. We launched the Coffee Academies which is run across the country. You have one in Bristol, Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds and we just signed up with Grind in London. We partner up with coffee roasters and we invite bartenders to come to the coffee
What’s your favourite part of hospitality?
People and challenges. I love working with coffee cocktails because it’s taking the category somewhere else. The thought of in a couple of years someone asking for a coffee cocktail and they don’t just think of an Espresso Martini or an Irish Coffee. I love that idea of creating something new.
What’s your least favourite part?
Cliques and bullying. We had that recently, having another brand be quite mean to us. I have no time for people who bully.
Do you think being a woman has affected your career? Has it been in a positive or negative way?
Both in some parts. I was talking to a friend about this and even though I have most definitely not been promoted over someone else because they’ve chosen the man instead of me, it’s never upset me. I know it’s definitely happened to me and I just made it to the point where I am literally going to be the best person for this job and I will make it to a point where you cannot overlook me. But I do have quite a lot of drive. On the other side I have been promoted because I’m a woman or because they’re like oh we need someone female to do this. There are various benefits to being a woman or a man. I do think the industry needs to get better at being equal.
What trends have you been seeing lately?
I like disco drinks. I like the fact that retro drinks are coming back and more neighbourhood bars. Homeboy is delightful. Bars I really like going into are like Homeboy, FAM, where you can go in and it is that whole hospitality.
If someone wanted your job right now, what is the advice you would give them?
Work with the brands you want to work with. Everyone asks me how I got this job. I was quite lucky, I worked with them, they liked how I presented their product and they offered me a job. Get to know the brand, get familiar with the brand.
Is there anything we can do to support?
Come to the Coffee Academies!
What’s your favourite drink at the moment?
To be fair I’ve been drinking a lot of Guinness. In terms of any other cocktails, Gin & Juice at FAM is one of my favourite cocktails. It’s delicious.
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