Modern Craftsmen – Jon Laurenson
Photos by Sylvè Colless / Story by Derek Rielly Let me tell you something about the shrieklingly hip town of Bondi. It ain’t so hip. Never was. What? Honey, I ain’t flapping these gums for kicks! For years, it was nothing but a bleak concrete promenade fronting a crescent of sand and acres and acres […]
Photos by Sylvè Colless / Story by Derek Rielly
Let me tell you something about the shrieklingly hip town of Bondi. It ain’t so hip. Never was. What? Honey, I ain’t flapping these gums for kicks! For years, it was nothing but a bleak concrete promenade fronting a crescent of sand and acres and acres of rotten architecture. Bars? Forget about it.
Oh, but towns do change. And, Bondi, by strength of its reputation, has drawn a sudden hit of smart artisans and entrepreneurs into its boundaries. And, by sudden, I mean sudden. Five years ago, no wait, three, if you didn’t sling 20 bucks for a mixed drink at Icebergs you were shoulder-to-shoulder with the drones at The Bondi Hotel or Beach Road watching your gut swell with beer.
Now, well, why don’t you look around? The town might still have holes all over it, culturally and aesthetically, but if you want food that is made with fresh ingredients, and drinks made with the loving skill of bartenders who live the trade and who aren’t backpackers scooping up $15 an hour cash to get ‘em to Airlie Beach, and all built on the foundation base liquors sourced from the best distilleries around the world, Bondi is a beacon.
And, right there on the corner of Campbell Parade and Francis St, just as you swing into Bondi, is The Anchor, one of the best.
Hungry? You ain’t lived until you’ve eaten the grilled sustainably farmed ocean trout served under a blanket of tabouli. And, if it’s a drink y’chasing how about a Bondi Southside (top shelf Dutch vodka, mint, lime mixed with the Elderflower-based French liqueur St Germain) or the perennial favourite of Stab, the guava and jalapeño margarita the Machete. Chilli salt on the rim! Hoo! Attention to detail!
Anyway, one of the brains behind The Anchor (there are three other partners, Georgia, Sam and Steve) is Jon Laurenson. If you’re into the surf game you’ll know him as the cat who started Electric sunglasses with a few pals a doz years back (sold in 2009).
Now, Jon has two great skills. He’s social and he prides himself on the perfection of craft. And, a bar, is a natural extension of these abilities.
“Doesn’t everyone have the fantasy of opening their own bar?” says Jon.
But, Jon is the kinda guy who makes a bar a little different, gives it a kink. He travels a lot, mostly to the US, and always to LA and NY, west coast, east coast. Jon loves a good margarita, which he can find in LA, and there ain’t nothing better than a martini in swinging New York City.
And, what he really loves is drinking his martini and eating well-crafted food while old school rock roars out of trembling wall speakers. “Go to dinner in New York and you listen to the Ramones or AC/DC. I want to hear that. I want to hear Highway to Hell while I have a great martini.”
So, you come to The Anchor. The music is loud. The bar and restaurant, licensed for 50 people, is at capacity. Maybe you’ll have to wait a little. But, you will. ‘Cause it’s good.
What’s made the bar such a success? “I know I can be loose, but I know what I want,” says Jon. “I have a vision and I follow through on that vision. You can’t cut corners. Ingredients have to be fresh. Not just in the food, but in the drinks. You want the best bartenders and you want attention to detail. Here, I’m hands-on I make sure I’m involved in the menu, the cocktails, the way everything is prepared, where we source the produce and all those little details that make us different. People appreciate the extra effort. People appreciate the attention to detail you’ve go to, to make it extra special.”
And, it’s more than a biz. It’s a community service. If you’ve lived in the before-and-after versions of Bondi, you know that craftsman like Jon (and his partners) have helped Bondi get close to its reputation. “I’m always trying to make the world a better place, socially at least, for everyone,” says Jon. “I want to help make the community even more vibrant. Electric and eclectic.”
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