Dominic is one of the many Australians that are making their mark on the New York hospitality scene. In a past life, Dominic used to own a popular, grungy late night live music club in Melbourne called Yah Yah’s before making the leap across the Pacific to New York. Whilst staying with a friend in Fort Greene, one drunken night the two friends decided it would be a good idea to open a bar. The rest is history and The Great Georgiana is now a solid laidback cocktail hang in the leafy green neighborhood. Taste Talks caught up with Dominic to chat about opening a business in Brooklyn as an outsider, and how his taste has changed since making the move.
- “Etta James” – Barrel Aged Gin, Chamomile Simple Syrup, Lemon Juice, Bitters.
- “Lady’s Choice” – White Rum, Passionfruit Liqueur, Pineapple Juice, Coconut Water, Egg White and Mint Garnish.
What made you decide to make the move from Australia?
I’d been coming to New York for a long time before I moved here. I was on one of my visits and staying with a friend in Fort Greene and one night over a few too many drinks we said we should open a bar. The next day he held me to it. It’s been a long and arduous process as New York is a very different creature to everywhere else. Initially I think my ambition outweighed my ability but it was all about throwing caution to the wind and working the rest out later. We just celebrated our fourth birthday the other week so we must be doing something right!
What’s the focus of The Great Georgiana?
Because of where we are, which is very much a ‘neighborhood’, being an outsider there was always a healthy amount of suspicion towards who we were and what we were doing. That’s all past now and I think we’re pretty well stitched into the community!
We’re not trying to re-invent the wheel – what we do is relatively simple, classic and hopefully pretty good. We’re alway changing and tweaking things with the seasons. We just sat down with our liquor suppliers and we’ve come up with three cocktails for the fall and we’ll do the same thing for winter. I don’t want to overdo it by putting on 15 beers each week but we always try to keep it fun and try to retain an interest and enthusiasm in what we’re doing by being open to learning all the time.
What’s the response like when people who know you from Australia from your Yah Yah days walk into The Great Georgiana?
They walk in here and look around and are confused because, unlike Yah Yah’s which was a loud and grungy nightclub, The Great Georgiana is this laidback and refined local bar with great cocktails. They’re surprised because it’s actually nice!
What are you into drinking right now?
I’m clinging on to the last of the good weather right now – I’m drinking something here that is really refreshing – passionfruit liqueur with mint to keep it fresh. Being a bar owner my next drink will always be different from the previous. I never seem to spend a night drinking the same thing. As we go into fall I’m keen to do something with sherry as there are some really cool things happening with it at the moment. I wasn’t a big fan at first but then I came around to it! But I do still find myself going back to an Old Fashioned most days – the first and the best!
Has your palate changed since moving from Melbourne to New York?
Yes, absolutely! It’s vastly different. I really wasn’t a fan of bourbon or rye before and because there’s been such an American whisky renaissance in recent years I had to drink it. Being a bar owner here it’s all about product knowledge. You have to be able to differentiate between 30 different bourbons and ryes in order to make it fit the cocktail. Now I drink mezcal and also sherry, which I hated six months ago. I guess you could call it more refined because of necessity!