At age 17 Haans Mayer decided to leave school. After pursuing a travel and tourism course he was offered a job at Auckland’s Golden Dawn Tavern of Power as a glassie. A year later he was starting to bartend. Four years later, and Golden Dawn is still the only place Mayer has ever worked.

“When I first started the most challenging thing about it was that I was very shy and having to talk to strangers all night long, but pretty quickly I started to understand people better and feel a lot more confidnent,” Mayer said.

Everything Mayer knows he learnt on the job, having never been to a bartending course. “I’ve had amazing mentors – they know so much and I am so lucky that they saw my excited creative spark and wanted to give me the tools and knowledge to succeed.”

Success for Mayer has come in the form of the East Imperial Gin Jubilee, the first competition he ever entered. His drink, Resplendent Rouge, won the competition and has given him the opportunity to travel to Singapore to compete in the world finals against five international bartenders. Now that he has found success with his Resplendent Rouge, he feels obliged to name it as his signature drink. “I can make a damn fine espresso martini, however,” he adds.

Mayer finds his inspiration in flavour combinations, drawing particular influence from food. “I find food often gives me some pretty unique inspiration because food is also about great balance of tastes that work in harmony, much like a good drink.” His only requirement for ingredients is that they work in harmony with the others, be it a spirit, syrup or liqueur.

For Mayer, the best part of the job is the creative space in which he works, and “the beautiful, open minded and loving people I work with and have met through the doors of the best bar in Auckland.”