Nestled in the bustling town of Burleigh Heads sits the iconic Rosella's Bar, a cocktail bar, home to the very talented mixologist, Jack Conner. Jack who is the owner and founder of the iconic Australian bar wanted to create a place where you felt that automatic nostalgic vibe of all things Australian. Blinky Bill, vegemite, and of course the vast range of Australian spirits. Being famous for their cocktail creations and of course the cocktail names (Mums Pavlova), Jack seems to create drinks that not only cause a feeling within you but make you want more. A vibe of native flora, warm forest green leather, rich walnut timber, and iconic Australian Prints- a very authentic venue to sit back and enjoy a few drinks with friends. We sat down for a chat with Jack about all things Rosella's and where his creativity, productivity, and energy come from.
Name: Jack Connor
Where are you Living: Palm Beach
Where do you work: I own and operate Rosella's in Burleigh Heads, Queensland
Follow on: @rosellasbar
Which Feels Botanical products do you range?
All of them ;) Currently serving 'Fire Engine' which features Feels Rouse and 'Watermelon Gatorade' with Feels Bask.
How did you start out in your industry & how long have you been in it?
I started out by getting a bar back job at elsewhere way back when, so I could have some income while I was at uni. I then got stuck there from then (2008) til now haha… so yeah 15 years now!
What are some of the venues you have worked in throughout your career?
Started out at Elsewhere Bar, then moved to Fix at the Hilton, this is where I fell in love with the service side of things and creating new progressive cocktails. Then had a very short stint in Brisbane, due to an accident that brought me back to the Gold Coast where I then worked at Aloha Bar & Dining, which really taught me how to run a small business and keep it growing and moving, then came the chance of doing it myself with Rosella's.
What did you feel in a emotive sense when you first came into contact with the Feels Botanical brand and product range?
I'm all for pushing boundaries and creating things that people might question, where does this sit in terms of categories? So, something like Feels Botanical definitely grabbed my attention straight away and lined up quite well with me.
Watermelon Gatorade featuring Feels Botanical Bask
What were the synergies with the Feels brand and your venue?
Again, to continue from above, it's something that pushes boundaries, so it works well in a place like Rosella's. We manage to use Feels quiet a lot!
How and why did you want to utilise Feels as a product offering to your clientele?
It works extremely well in cocktails, when we use feels we either enhance the flavour of the particular bottle or we contrast and it's a lot of fun. It says what it is on the tin as well which is great. A lot of gins/vodkas say they are something and you really have to go hunting for that flavour, sometimes you can't even taste it.
Tell us about the place you tap into when you work on bringing to life a drink within your venue?
A lot of the time it's quite random, you should see my notes app on my phone. It has a lot of ideas in there. It will either start with a flavour and then the name after or it will start with a name and then the drink after that. Sometimes it's inspired by others, but a big thing I've been working on lately is to just try and think of what would make something yummy and go from there.
How has working on this project inspired, challenged and pushed your approach to your work?
Both of these drinks have been great to do because essentially both of them started from a flavour. I just wanted to make them taste as good as they can be. Watermelon Gatorade is probably up there in my favourite flavour combos I've done, it's just one of those drinks you can drink forever and get something new from it every time.
During your creative process, what role does feeling and logic play? Is one more important than the other?
Feeling probably plays the biggest role. With a place like Rosella's where we pull on those nostalgic memories we have as Australians, it's pretty important to try to recreate flavours that remind us of the little things, it essentially transports you back to find memories (hopefully). Logic comes after, where we have to be able to make it quickly in the bar. I believe anything is possible to be made fast during service, so I just try to make it as yummy as possible first.
Is there a person or artist(s) that first inspired you?
I get a lot of inspiration from a lot of amazing Australian chefs and venues. There's so many at a stone's throw and then so many around the country. A big place that has a super interesting style and do very intriguing flavours is Babas Place in Sydney.
When do you feel most creative?
Most of the time it's late at night after work which is weird. But I guess my brain just absorbs everything from the day and subconsciously is doing its thing. I think it's super important to trust your subconscious.
Where do you look for inspiration…
A lot of it is Instagram, it would be pretty silly to ignore such a powerful source of information and inspiration. If you choose the right people to follow you can get a lot of inspiration.
When I’m feeling burnt out, I wind down and reset by…
I love to just spend time with my partner, being lizards by the beach and soaking up the sun, getting a schooner at a surf club. I love cooking on my days off as well. Playing golf with mates is pretty up there for me too at the moment.
Fire Engine featuring Feels Botanical Rouse
My favourite way to drink Feels Rouse is…
Definitely have to be in a Watermelon Gatorade at Rosella's. I usually just drink XXXX beer, but there is just something about that drink.
When I’m drinking Watermelon Gatorade, I set the mood with this song:
Shane Warne - Paul Kelly
The person (dead or alive) I’d most like to drink it with…
So many to choose from, but I think ultimately it have to be Ghandi… even if it is a glass of water.
What you may not know about me…
I play ice hockey as a hobby which is a bit different for someone who lives on a beach town like Golf Coast.
Advice to those wanting to get into your field:
A lot of people get stuck just going through the motions. They can think of something, and not say it, then nothing gets done. They can think of something, say it… then not do it. The last part is the most important part. Have a crack, do something, anything. If it doesn't work, oh well you've learned something, and you can make it better. Do more, learn from it and you will grow. You won't grow if you don't DO anything for yourself.