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Tom Angel

Tom Angel of The Exhibitionist Bar (image supplied)
Tom Angel of The Exhibitionist Bar (image supplied)

HOTA’s new Gallery would have to be one of the most notable openings of 2021, and along with it the respective opening of both Palette Restaurant and The Exhibitionist Bar. And if you haven’t been treated to the superb views that The Exibitionist Bar offers, are you even a rooftop bar connoisseur? Behind the creative cocktail menu at the venue is Tom Angel. With a wealth of knowledge, Tom brings to the venue a refreshing and imaginative slant to all beverages that will be sure to treat all the senses. Read on to find out a bit more about his career and his love of all things hospitality on the Gold Coast.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local? 
I moved here beginning of 2006 for a holiday, fell in love with a lady, the place and surrounding areas, and never left!

Tell us a bit about you.
I caught the bug from an early age working for my Aunt in her award winning café in Christchurch, NZ. Ever since then I’ve been on a quest to embody the art of hospitality as she did. I spent a few years working at The Star Gold Coast, learning all aspects of the industry, before moving onto smaller venues. I count myself very lucky to work with and learn from some best in the business, like Josh and Astrid and the team from La Casita/Fleet in Brunswick Heads, Adam Lane at Kiyomi (now at Yamagen), and of course Dayan Hartil-Law, before opening a small cocktail bar in Broadbeach. Owning and operating a bar gave me some invaluable lessons that I very much appreciate and has only strengthen my resolve and passion for this industry and the bartending community. Finding like-minded individuals, David Aznar (L’apero Pop-Up), Jackson Connor (Rosella’s in Burleigh) and Finn Hope (Exhibitionist Bar) to name a few, to develop and collaborate with has been very exciting!

After moving to the Gold Coast, I met my future wife a week afterwards, and now we have two boys together! My oldest son is also hearing impaired like myself, and my family is one of my biggest sources of drive and passion, to show that having a disability should not hold you back from achieving what you put your mind to.

Tom mixing a Woodford Reserve cocktail behind The Exhibitionist Bar (image supplied)
Tom mixing a Woodford Reserve cocktail behind The Exhibitionist Bar (image supplied)

What do you consider your greatest career achievement?
I consider the Diageo world-class competition one of the most prestigious bartending competitions worldwide and I love that I’ve made the top 100 bartenders in Australia 5 times, which shows to me all my hard work and staying in touch with what is happening internationally in the bartending world is paying off. I came 2nd in 2017 and went to Bangkok for a priceless bartenders Bootcamp with Andrea Gauldi and some of the best bartenders in Asia. The pop-up bar we did on the rooftop of the Sofitel hotel was a night I’ll never forget!

Currently working at HOTA, Home of the Arts and the amazing team here definitely feels like a privilege especially with the Culinary Arts team, and it feels like this is going to be an important milestone in my career. The Curatorial Arts team here has provided me with a new source of inspiration which is very rewarding!

What makes The Exhibitionist Bar a superior rooftop bar on the Gold Coast?
The view is amazing! Both daytime and night-time. We have this panoramic view of the Gold Coast city skyline, which is becoming iconic, combined with the hinterland behind us to watch the sun go down over the hills. Quality drinks and food on offer as well, with our talented bartenders able to make classics well, and live music entertainment on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons. Our cocktail menu is inspired by the current show in the major gallery which is currently An Art Mixtape: Yours for Summer. We have done our own mixtape of cocktails with  A) some being our favourite cocktails and flavours and  B) we have collaborated with international legends such as Monica Berg from Tayer + Elementary in London, currently number 2 in the World’s top 50 best bars list, and Heather Garland, co-owner of Caretaker and Deadshot in Auckland, NZ. We are having a lot of fun with this menu!

What is your personal favourite cocktail, and why?
I’m loving the Kokomo, from the new Exhibitionist Bar cocktail menu. Clarified cocktails are cool and it’s been a while since I’ve done one! It’s a take on one of my favourite classic cocktails – Mai Tai – we essentially take a sour cocktail and make it clear, I love watching people’s reactions when they taste the drink and they are not expecting it to be sour. Husk Pure Cane rum, Glenlivet Caribbean Cask, Marionette Orange Curacao, lime, m’orgeat (macadamia orgeat). We then float a layer of a bitter Davidson plum liqueur on top.

Kokomo cocktail from The Exhibitionist Bar (image supplied)
Kokomo cocktail from The Exhibitionist Bar (image supplied)

How long does it take you (from start to finish) to come up with a new cocktail?
It all depends, sometimes I can do it on the fly, some of the best drinks I’ve made have been when under the pressure to make a drink in 5 mins! I like to start with a base flavour and keep it really simple with a minimalist thought process behind it. Often if I’m working with a particular spirit, I’ll pinpoint a certain flavour that would work well accentuated. I will write down on paper in a notebook or scraps and work my way through it, often with random drawings and indecipherable sentences. Here at HOTA, Home of the Arts, it’s been really nice to use the artwork as a starting point, and I will dive deep into it. Why was the artwork created? What does the artwork look like? Colours, textures, lighting, emotions? One of my favourite projects has been with Claudia de Salvo – a ceramist who created an artwork called Heat and Time for our opening major show back in May. She was exploring the different temperatures of firing the clay, and how by pouring water into them, showing us the chemical process involved in breaking down clay. This is a metaphor for time and human intervention. The resulting drink was exploring the use of ginger and native ginger in different temperatures and forms, served in a vessel made by the artist!

With the borders having just reopened, what are you most excited for in the immediate future?
I’m most excited to bring my family across the border for some fun and catch-ups with family and friends! I’ve got some restaurants I’ve been waiting to go to (looking at you Eddy + Wolff!)

For those celebrating at home this year, what’s an easy NYE cocktail recipe you would recommend someone to make?
Mezcal Margaritas! I’m a huge fan of mezcal and I think this would be perfect and very easy to make at home. Grab a bottle of quality mezcal, limes, agave nectar, sea salt and ice.
Add two parts mezcal to 1 part lime and ½ part of agave nectar, shake with ice (if you don’t have a shaker use a glass jar with a lid or a Tupperware container – be imaginative!) pour all contents including ice, into a short glass with a half rim of sea salt. This is a great base to work off, you can add to this and make your own twist! Add cucumber, mint, chillies, berries, melons.

The Exhibitionist Bar (image supplied)
The Exhibitionist Bar (image supplied)

How would you be spending your New Year’s Eve, if you weren’t working?
If I wasn’t working I would be at home with the family, probably invite the neighbours and friends over and bust out some special wine that I’ve got stashed away somewhere!

What is one thing you are looking forward to in 2022?
I’m looking forward to seeing a sense of normalcy coming back hopefully, but the Gold Coast and Northern Rivers NSW scene is looking very exciting in the hospitality world, so I can’t wait to explore this further.

What are your Gold Coast favourites… 
Café: Not the Gold Coast, but Cubby’s in Chinderah. Always an essential coffee stop in the morning on the way to work and the team there are amazing.
Coffee spot: Vector, Tarte and Stable are all making quality cups of brew! Beam Roasters and Therefore Roasters, both from Northern NSW are roasting some amazing blends as well. Dino at Rosella’s makes the best Espresso Martinis 😊
Restaurant: North Room, Eddy + Wolff, Muso, and my sons reckon that Eddie’s Grub House makes the best burgers on the Coast (they do). Also do yourself a favour if you haven’t yet, get down to La Casita in Brunswick Heads for some cracking Mexican food.
Bar or pub for a drink: Rosella’s for shit chat and great drinks. The new wine bar Paloma by the Labart legends has a very slick wine list curated by Channey. Super happy that Après Surf is back in Burleigh too. My home bar is coming along real nice too, almost completed so the neighbours will be happy about that!

How do you choose to spend your weekends? 
I spend it with my family first and foremost, and catching up with my friends and like-minded individuals, always on the lookout for the next project, and of course training my palette.

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