Laura Lopez talks about food infusions, working as a team and her new project, Red Bar, in Auckland
I’m all about the idea of making an experience, not just a drink. Drinking is all about sharing moments – that’s my favourite part about being behind a bar. I involve the team in creating the drinks, and people can have their names and drinks on the menu. I focus on flavour and creating something that people will enjoy. Cocktails aren’t exclusive, they’re for everyone, but people can interpret flavour in different ways.
Food and drink hybrids are very cool right now. My partner is a chef and I’ve learnt a lot from the food trends he follows. I’ve started to play with things like syrups, bitters and infusions. At a recent event, I made chipotle and lemongrass infusions, inspired by my Mexican heritage.
I just bought a coffee table book about a bar in New York. It’s a great way to get an insight into the industry on a global scale. To keep on top of your game, you have to be open about trying and learning new things. For every bottle that lands on my bar top, I’m willing to experiment with it and hopefully create something delicious and fresh.
Last year was an experimentation of concepts and making some noise. This year the place is changing and getting its own style; we even have an artist coming in to do the walls. The goal is to make people feel part of the community and for us to give back. That’s my key point for this year – be part of the community and make the place known.