Creator of award-winning bars and exceptional drinking experiences, Jason Williams is a leader in the hospitality industry. Starting out as a barback 20 years ago, Williams was an active participant in the Australian bar scene and his experience at some of the country’s highly acclaimed bars elevated his profile as a best-in-class hospitality creative.

In 2015, Jason took up the opportunity of a lifetime in Singapore as Creative Director and Head of Advocacy at Proof & Company, one of Asia Pacific’s leading independent spirits companies. Jason spoke to Bars & Clubs about some of his career defining moments in Singapore.

“I was headhunted by Proof & Company, my experience and skillset lends itself well to the role and so for eight years, I was tasked with developing an agency model with a bar and beverage consultancy. I developed and launched world-class bars and beverage programs for world-class hotels and operators throughout the world.”

“I worked on a bar called Atlas in Singapore, I was heavily involved in the conceptualisation of the brand and worked with the owners and operating team on every single element – uniform, music, design, beverages, recruitment.”

“We won three Tales of the Cocktail awards, we won World’s Best Spirits Selection, World’s Best Cocktail List and Best International Cocktail Bar. Coming from a gin background, it has a collection of 1400 gins and we created the Juniper Society. It’s a beautiful venue and something that is really close to my heart. It took up a big chunk of my life, but now I can call the owners and people there my life long friends.”

“Another of my dream projects to work on was the reopening of the Raffles Hotel. The Long Bar is a global mecca for cocktail culture, the famous Singapore Sling was created there and it’s a national monument. We had the opportunity to take part in the reimagining of the three [Raffles Hotel] bars, and we got to reimagine the Singapore Sling. We had the most profitable cocktail in the world, we took it apart and put it back together again. I have my own gin brand, called Widges Gin, and I’m now fortunate enough to have Widges Gin as the official gin of the Singapore sling, at the home of the Singapore sling, the Raffles Hotel.”

Despite an exceptional career in Singapore creating extraordinary bars, Jason was never too far from the Australian industry. Ready to embark on a new adventure, Jason recently stepped down from his role at Proof & Company and returned to Australia, dedicating himself to his role as a Director at Sydney-based hospitality group House Made Hospitality. 

“Before COVID, one of my good friends Justin Newton proposed that we work together on a side hustle, a small hospitality company that I could do remotely from Singapore. We planned to build something small together and that really snowballed over a number of years, to the point where we now have nine different venues and 350 employees.”

Lana, located at Hinchcliff House in Sydney

“My plan was always to move back to Australia as a business owner, and apply my creativity, expertise, passion and experience to my own business as opposed to other people’s businesses. I am excited about the drinks menus that will be attached to the new venues that we’re opening.”

“An example of that is a French Riviera inspired terrace bar in the city, we’ll be developing a cocktail list with French café style cocktails, done in a more modern way. The venue will be called Martinez, and it will have a signature Martinez cocktail trolley with a signature Martinez cocktail.”

“I have a much more global view now, particularly having worked in Asia Pacific across dozens of countries. I’m looking to take a little bit from all those different learnings, especially older eating and drinking traditions, and bring them back into our more Western hospitality experience. There are a lot of flavours and non-alcoholic drinking traditions that I would like to put our own twist on.”

“The Asian bar scene has exploded at a really fast rate over the last 15 years, with that it brings innovation and ultra creativity. Having a really old, advanced drinking scene in Australia, a lot of people end up defaulting back to the same drinks, so I’m looking to push the boundaries a little bit with our teams here around technique, flavour and garnishings.”

“I think one thing we’ll see more of [in Australia], for better or worse, is the rise of the guest shift and bar collaborations. In Asia, it is a daily occurrence for bartenders to do micro shifts in neighboring bars, or a bar across the other side of the city. Bartenders are travelling and collaborating more than ever, which is really exciting. This doesn’t happen as much in Australia, but I can see it starting to happen a lot more in this part of the world.”

Following the opening of Promenade Bondi Beach, a beachside restaurant, bar and kiosk situated in the iconic Bondi Pavilion, Jason spoke of House Made Hospitality’s plans for the new venture.

“It’s one of those opportunities of a lifetime, to have this exceptional venue on one of the world’s most famous beaches. We have the privilege of creating food and beverage menus to provide to people as they take in that beautiful view, and the beautifully designed venue.”

“We’re up for a really exciting summer, we have some really bright and vibrant cocktails ready to go. We’re just about to launch breakfast, which will include some fun non-alcoholic beverages as well as a signature Bondi Mary cocktail.”

Drawing on his incredibly diverse experience, Jason shared the approach he adopts at House Made Hospitality to elevate a good venue to an unforgettable venue.

“We’re going to be focusing a lot on creating memorable experiences, and how we make people feel. A lot of this comes from the smaller, soft skills, which a lot of the time comes naturally, but making sure we provide it to every guest who comes in the door. Making people feel acknowledged when they walk in, making people feel not just welcome but special.”

“We put a lot of deep thinking into our dishes, our cocktails and the stories behind them, but ultimately we’re going to focus on creating memorable experiences and making people feel good. We want to do that through humanistic behaviours and positivity, as well as creating small rituals and traditions that people will never forget.”

This article was first published on Bars & Clubs, click here to subscribe to the weekly newsletter.

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