Behind the Bar - Toby Eaton
Like many of us, Toby Eaton spent a great deal of his uni days in a bar. Unlike the rest of us, this actually furthered his career.
Toby has serendipity to thank for falling into his career on the other side of the bar, working in hospo in Christchurch hotspots as a means to an end, to support his studying habit. But once he set foot behind the bar, he quickly realised he ruled at it (our words, not his, he is a pretty modest chap).
The Rhum Plummer was his gateway drink to competition success, starting his rapid ascent up the ranks of the New Zealand mixology fraternity, winning many a competition, which soon saw him travelling around the world on the back of his mad skills.
We should be thankful too, because Toby practices said skills in our neighbourhood. Arriving back on our shores fresh from spells in Australia and the ‘09 with a local branch of the Mexican Cafe (fingers crossed that will reappear), Toby is probably behind many of your favourite drinks from new and old Christchurch watering holes.
After a stint as a spirit specialist with Pernod Ricard, Toby found himself making a difficult choice between remaining in the corporate arena and getting back to his roots behind the bar. A inkling that hospo was where he wanted to be just needed to be converted with the right opportunity, which was ultimately found at Harlequin Public House, where he is currently in charge of the beverage programme. Yes, he is responsible for the cocktail list which can only be described as epic and for stocking 30 gins, 30 rums and Don Julio ‘Real’. You’re welcome.
With his venture Eaton Drink Co providing bartenders for hire, cocktail lists and planning and consulting for events, Toby even caters to people who don’t want to leave their house by bringing the cocktails to your partay. They now also have a catering wing, so there is your next event sorted, big or small.
Toby takes mixology to a place which is as exciting as Tom Cruise in the 80’s would have you believe. Constantly pushing the boundaries, Toby takes the cocktail list far far away from the dangerous territory of no way thats natural blue coloured drinks, glace cherries (though we do love those) and tiny umbrellas making you feel like you are on a terrible group holiday to a tropical destination with a programme of “fun” planned activities, again probably in the 80’s.
Charged water, house made liquors, shrubs and syrups and innovation demonstrates why mixology is such an art and unexpected flavour combinations just seem obviously awesome in Toby’s capable hands. Who even knew bitters came in different flavours (everyone? Oh, just us.) He even makes mocktails exciting (dry ice).
Quite simply, if Toby mixes it, it will be glorious.