Drink, interview

After Hours with Eau De Vie

We chatted to Greg Sanderson, owner of one our favourite speakeasy bars, Eau de Vie for the inside scoop on the world of cocktails and the Melbourne bar scene.


You’ve been in the industry for several years now and have also won the
2012 Australian Bartender of the Year Award. In your opinion what makes a good bartender?
A great bartender first and foremost must be a fantastic host. Receiving service from a professional bartender should feel like you have been invited into their home and you are being taken care of like a friend. Sure an in-depth knowledge of spirits, cocktails and everything they are serving is important but a truly great bartender will know exactly when to pull out those facts and not force them upon their guests. As well as being an impeccable host they must move with grace and purpose, entertain but know how to leave a conversation gracefully to keep working, must be clean and organised, and always be willing to learn new things.


Eau De Vie is one of Melbourne’ s best kept secrets. What do you think it is about your speakeasy that constantly puts it on everybody’s favourite bar list?
I think Eau-de-Vie has become extremely popular with the drinking culture of Melbourne for a number of reasons. Melbourne is known for it’s laneway gems whether it be the cafes, restaurants or even street art. Wondering down an alley in Melbourne looking for that special something is accepted and because it is talked about so often visitors from overseas and interstate love to find that experience. When we opened Eau-de-Vie we wanted to open a venue where people left talking about the drinks and the service, not the $40,000 sound system or the $10,000 chair the guest was sitting on. Our devotion to great drinks and personable service is largely what Melbourne drinkers are seeking. The Melbourne culture has perpetuated the mantra of the quality of what is in the glass or on the plate is the most important aspect of the experience.


How do you think the cocktail/bar scene has changed in Melbourne over the years? Can you name some of your other favourite bars in Melbourne?
I think the cocktail scene in Melbourne is always evolving. Whether it be brand new venues or existing venues reinventing themselves or keeping on trends and even setting them. One thing I find about the cocktail culture in Melbourne is that we have this perfect storm for a great culture. The city is filled with fantastic bars, the fact we are so far removed from the rest of the world has enabled us to propagate our unique scene, there is an abundance of world class bartenders and most importantly the imbibing population of Melbourne are keen to experiment with new drinking trends, exotic flavours and concepts for venues that may seem a little out there. Some of the bars I love in Melbourne are (and I have to say) Boilermaker House, Black Pearl, Romeo Lane and Lilly Blacks.


Finally, If we were to buy you drink, what would it be?
If you were to buy me a drink I would simply have what you’re having that way I am forced to get out of my usual repertoire of drinks and would get to know you that little bit better.