Will Douglas first entered the hospitality space at age 15, when he obtained a job washing dishes. Not long after, he moved to polishing glasses, which eventually led to Douglas learning the art of bartending under the tutelage of bartenders from Auckland and London.
He is currently the Bar Manager at Candela, an Iberian-inspired kitchen and bar located on Karangahape road, Auckland. Candela is known for its fine selection of local craft brews, hand-picked bottles of vino, sherries and a small curated list of cocktails.
What makes bartending special for Douglas is its potential for creativity and discovery.
"There's always more to learn and more to play with."
He also enjoys providing genuine and positive customer experiences, especially introducing people to drinks they may not try otherwise.
"We have a great opportunity in our industry to educate people and improve their overall drinking experience."
For Douglas, a great drink comes down to balance, methodology and identity. His go-to cocktail to introduce customers to the style of Candela is the Ancho, a concoction of mezcal, amaro montenegro, ancho liqueur, chocolate bitters and soy sauce.
"It's boozy yet approachable, has a whisper of spice, smoke and chocolate bitter along with just a hint of umami."
He is excited about New Zealand's creative craft spirit scene. At the moment Douglas is loving Strange Nature gin, a fruity and tropical single botanical gin made with Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc spirit.
"It's great with grapefruit and soda for a summer spritz!"
He also likes Honest Co's Botanical Rum, which he pairs with a sweet coffee or ice cream.
When Douglas is not working, he likes to try new bar venues.