Meet | Justin Dowling, Fantail & Turtle

Justin Dowling began his career in hospitality whilst journeying the adventure of a lifetime.

Growing up in rural Queensland, Dowling was used to his life on the farm. At age 21, he decided it was time for him to escape Australia, and set his sights on Europe. Travelling with nothing and no one, he expressed he was in a somewhat dire situation.

“I needed to make some money and some friends. An opportunity came up in a country pub in England so off I went. Naturally, I suited the role and seven years and five countries later I've ended up here. The lure of starting a new life in a new place attracted me to the role, it was a means of meeting new people in foreign places,” said Dowling.

He would eventually end up in New Zealand, and fell in love with the local culture and language. Dowling works as a bartender at the Faintail & Turtle, a popular bar and restaurant on Auckland’s North Shore.

“Having the opportunity to, and being able to witness the team demonstrate manaakitanga, kaitiakitanga and whanaungatanga to all our guests, and to work in a venue where people return because they feel warm, welcome and safe is rewarding for all of us.”

Dowling noted that being prepared and being organised are keys to success in bartending. 

“Know your recipes and keep your head up and see what's going on. Give everyone equal attention.” 

He also said that making your own sugar syrup is an impressive look.

The current cocktail he is most proud of is called the ‘Madame Faye-Joix,’ which he admitted a lot of love goes into. It is made with locally grown, fresh feijoa and handcrafted gin, plus an extra couple of surprises as well. His favourite cocktail, however, is a classic margarita.

“It is so versatile, be it strawberry, black raspberry, blood orange, peach, passionfruit, chilli, or even non-alcoholic, there’s something for everyone.”

If he’s not behind the bar pouring drinks, then he’s on his bike, quite literally. A keen cyclist, Dowling cycled the length of New Zealand in early 2023, and plans to do the same thing in Iceland in June.

Dowling said that finding a home at the Fantail & Turtle has been a career highlight of his, he said that working at the bar has connected him with his co-workers, forming relationships he values. 

“To be able to work somewhere where employee and employer core values align and share a purpose is hard to come by. Now to be able to lead a team at a place like this makes me super proud.”