Fresh from her trip to the Jack Daniel’s distillery in the US, we sat down with our December cover star Candice Aitkin (from Brisbane’s Laruche) in Sydney’s Ramblin’ Rascal to have a chat about her career and her love of American whiskey.


How long have you been working in hospitality?

I first started my hospitality career in a local restaurant when I was 14 years on washing dishes and waiting tables. As soon as I turned 18, I wanted to widen my skills so I got my first job in a local pub and then moved into the Fortitude Valley to work in a nightclub to gain confidence and improve my fundamental bartending skills. Not long after working in a nightclub I discovered my true passion for making drinks, serving people and giving customers an experience. I then moved on to a little cocktail bar to again widen my skills and feed my passion – I loved it.  I always thought bartending was just to get my through my studies (I’m a qualified special effects makeup artist as well as a qualified hairdresser) but I just love the excitement of hospitality, talking to people and making delicious cocktails.

Where are you now?

I have been working at Laruche for over three years and managing the venue for the last two and a half years. We’re a cocktail bar nightclub – you can experience a cocktail bar quality from the service and standard of cocktails in a nightclub atmosphere. I thoroughly enjoy every aspect of running Laruche and working for the Moubment Group.

Have you always been a fan of American whiskey?

Absolutely! My mum, being an American, has always had American whiskey around the house. Growing up, she used to make carrots for dinner which were glazed in American whiskey. I think that is where I found my love for it.

What’s driving you in your career?

I have worked exceptionally hard to get to where I am today as the general manager of Laruche.  I am extremely passionate and have never stopped learning – I endeavour to always learn at least one thing every shift, and share my knowledge and passion with my work colleagues.

If I make a mistake, I try to always learn from it, instead of pretending it never happened or making an excuse. I pride myself on having strong management skills. I have gained respect from co-workers by working hard, pulling my weight – and always prepared to get in there and get the job done. Just because I am female, does not mean I can use this to get out of lifting ice buckets and kegs.

Being a female in this industry, I have experienced many uncomfortable situations, have heard every pickup line there is, as well as been put-down solely due to my gender. I have used it to fuel my passion and drive, and to make me stronger as a person. I guess seeing a strong, confident woman, that is good at her job, can either be encouraging/inspirational or possibly intimidating.

What do you look for in your bartenders?

I believe that passion is incredibly important. I will hire someone who has passion over skill – you can’t teach passion but you can teach skill. Someone who has passion will never give up and never stop learning.


Check out the December issue of bars&clubs to see the Jack Daniel’s cocktail Candice created for the cover.




Cover image credit: Simon Taylor.

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