Matt Woodyear-Smith got into bartending for a simple reason – the look. “I kept seeing fancy cocktails and all the ingredients,” he told Restaurant & Café. “I wanted to learn how to make them.” The hours and the people were a bonus: “I don’t like getting up early.”
Woodyear-Smith started with SKYCITY back in 2010 and as a bartender has worked his way around Orbit, bar twentyone, MASU and now Huami. “There are lots of great opportunities at SKYCITY, and I’ve always made the most of any that have come my way,” he said. “It’s all been on the job and self-taught. I have been lucky enough to work with some really knowledgeable and creative people over the years.”
The cocktail list at Humai pays homage to the Chinese influences of the restaurant. “Often the inspiration for new flavours and ingredients comes from the kitchen but working at Huami and Masu has also really expanded my horizons to new possibilities and led me to study other cultures,” Woodyear-Smith said. “At Masu, we created our own shochu infusions and worked with sake for example. At Huami we use a lot of traditional Chinese flavours: lychee, mandarin, sesame, ginger, tea and Sichuan spices.”
The signature drink at Huami is the Royal 75, a combination of lychee, gin and orange topped with Perrier-Jouët champagne. Other Eastern-influenced beverages include the Silk Road Negroni (spiced gin, sweet vermouth and Campari), the Mandarin Sidecar (fresh mandarin, clove, cognac and Sichuan pepper) and the Gin-ger Juice (gin, orange, ginger, lemon, clove and Sichuan pepper). Drawing from such a diverse range of cultures and flavours could seem a daunting task, but Woodyear-Smith has only one requirement: “They have to taste good!”
Huami is also lucky enough to have an extensive wine list curated by Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas, although Woodyear-Smith admitted that remembering what all the wines taste like is the most challenging part of his job.