Bartender gets into the groove of trade initiative

Alice Morrissey extols the virtues of William Grant & Sons’ 1887 Collective

Alice Morrissey has worked at Panda & Sons in the capital for two years

ALICE Morrissey, bartender at Panda & Sons in Edinburgh, was chosen to take part in William Grant & Sons’ on-trade advocacy programme, the 1887 Collective, this year.

Here, she shares her thoughts on drinks and disco.

How long have you worked in the trade and how did you start?

I have been bartending for two years, but worked in speciality coffee since I was 17.

Describe your venue and its drinks offer.

Panda & Sons runs like a family, so from the moment you walk through the door it provides a warm and welcome embrace before it even begins to showcase the incredible drinks. The current menu is a global collaboration menu called The Benefaction Menu. It’s about sharing the creative and innovative techniques from our Panda family, but also showcasing the incredible talents from across the globe too.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

Knowing I get to work alongside a team that feels like family, which resonates with guests as well because we include them in our chat. This is important as tourism is huge in Edinburgh and everyone is looking for an experience and a sense of home.

What’s your favourite drink and why?

I can’t answer this. Negroni is a failsafe, sherry and tonic is refreshing, a neat whisky reminds you to appreciate the craft; but I love drinking a Bundy rum and Coke with my Dad. You can’t take the Australian out of the girl!

What’s your career highlight so far?

Getting a job at Panda & Sons. I came from Brisbane, Australia and I knew no one. My first day in Edinburgh, I sat at the bar and had a few drinks and chatted to the team and they assured me that I’d be looked after by the bar community. The next day the manager, Jono McDowell, messaged me and asked if I wanted a trial shift that Saturday. I never thought I’d get a job in that calibre of bar so quickly and I’m overjoyed that they made space for me.

Who do you admire in the industry and why?

There is no singular response to this. One of my personal heroes and best pals is Aidan Beiers. He is part-owner of Black Bear Lodge in Brisbane and is always pushing boundaries when people tell him otherwise. He is young, but is pushing for change in bar culture more than anyone I know. Once I move back we will collaborate and promote positive change within the industry via disco. “Disco and love will cure us all.” – Aidan Beiers.

How do you relax outside of work?

Disco. Music is my foundation. It provides a crutch for my brain when it’s at its lowest – and is also the life of the party. I also love to kick a football around the park and jump into nature when I can, even if that’s reading a book in Princes Street Gardens.

If you could invite anyone for a drink who would you ask, where would you go and what would you drink?

I would 100% have a Paper Plane with Stephen Fry at Black Bear Lodge. All three are cheeky, fun, adventurous, yet serious. Like Stephen Fry, I have been diagnosed with life-long bipolar disorder and I am looking at ways of developing a mental health platform in the industry that is approachable and fun. I want to find a way to make it inclusive for people with invisible illnesses. I need Mr  Fry’s help on this one; and I bet he’d love a boogie too.

What does the William Grant & Sons 1887 Collective entail?

Monthly meet ups with other like-minded industry folk who I believe really want to make a positive impact on the industry. We get to travel and learn from a whole range of different people from different backgrounds. It’s educational and fun at the same time.

In which ways did the 1887 Collective benefit you?

It has opened me up to what possibilities could lie ahead of me. Personally, I know I can’t work behind a bar for the rest of my life; my mental health won’t allow for it long-term. Each brand ambassador and member of the collective are unique, progressive and malleable. This means we all help each other see the other side of bartending and enhance each other’s career/life progression.

What was your own highlight from the 1887 Collective programme?

The initial meet up. Every ambassador greeted us with a hug. We weren’t in a bar, we weren’t working or trying to sell anything. It was very organic and, in turn, we have made real friendships and learned to be more innovative and creative.

How is the 1887 Collective going to help you in your trade career going forward?

I have made lifelong friends and know that these people will be future bar owners, ambassadors and just general industry legends. I made the mistake of believing that there was no space for me in the industry, but if anything the 1887 Collective has made me realise that the industry thrives on differences. So it is up to us to adapt and change the game.