Winner of the 2018 Heineken Star Serve competition, Joshua Irving from Christchurch’s Morrell & Co bar discovered an interest in bartending after his first few shifts behind the bar. Having had no previous customer service experience, his initial position serving at the bar on weekends was nerve-wracking to begin with, but as he settled in more Irving released how much he enjoyed it.

“I was freaking out a little bit, but as I got comfortable, I realised that it wasn’t too scary after all,” he said. “A few weeks passed by and I found that I was really enjoying myself as a bartender. Getting paid to pour beer and make jokes was something I loved turning up to every night.”

Before working as a duty manager for Morrell & Co, Irving worked at Pegasus Arms Restaurant & Bar and Vespa Bar, describing each of them as unique and fun experiences. Developing into an excellent bartender from zero experience, he credits on-the-job training for the majority of his knowledge surrounding customer service and bartending skills.

“I was privileged to be able to work with some awesome people that I will forever go to for advice. Tutorials and product tastings that I was invited to attend helped a lot when it came to product knowledge as well.”

Irving takes pride in a perfectly poured Heineken as his signature drink – served in a chilled glass, no garnish required. When creating various drink types, he visits different bars and restaurants around the country and finds inspiration in seeing how other businesses and bartenders in the trade function.

“Whether it be the fit-out or how the order of service works, I like to take in the experiences and then try to learn from what I liked in order to improve.”

Like any job, there are always challenging elements. In Irving’s experience, difficult customers can be hard to deal with, but he has learnt not to take things too personally.

“Overall, I really enjoy how social the job is. Being able to talk to all sorts of people from all walks of life about the most random of topics is a lot of fun. I’m eager to learn as much as possible and have a great time doing it.”

Looking ahead, Irving aims to take on the Heineken Star Serve Global Final and is excited to gain more valuable experiences within the hospitality industry.