If you live in Sydney and you’re Margarita fan, you’ve likely enjoyed an exceptional pour at Cantina Ok. Behind the micro laneway joint – which has graced the World’s Best Bars list – is the mezcal-loving hospo group Mucho, which also counts Bar Planet and the just-opened Centro 86 in its stable. According to Cam Syme, the new group beverage operations manager, the brief across the venues is simply “fun”.

“Mucho’s about that sense of escapism,” he tells Broadsheet. “The team’s super creative, they’re always coming to me with amazing ideas – having to work out the logistics of that is quite a challenge.”

Syme was previously working across Odd Culture Newtown and Spon, “slinging a lot of wine, making yum drinks, and in service 90 per cent of the time”. And while he’s not on the tools as frequently with his new crowd, every workday is different.

Never miss a Sydney moment. Make sure you're subscribed to our newsletter today.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

At Mucho’s venues, where the food offering extends to bags of perfected spiced popcorn, “beverage operations” could just mean “operations”. Here, Syme chats to us about his latest role.

Cam, tell me about your new gig.
It’s group beverage operations manager [with the Mucho Group]. To put it succinctly: I’m here to make sure our bars run smoothly. It’s a natural progression from [what I was doing with Odd Culture] – I’m more involved in the business and purchasing side of things. I do get to buy a lot of fun stuff from some really cool people, but most of my new job is just working with spreadsheets.

So what does like a classic workday look like?
What’s a good word for chaotic… dynamic? [Due to the] nature of hospitality, I might be staring at a spreadsheet figuring out what’s the best house vodka, or yesterday I was on my hands and knees in Bar Planet trying to get the beer cooler to work again. Today I’ve been running around Haymarket trying to find 10 kilos of gochujang to put on the popcorn at Centro. I’m just Mr Fix-It.

Centro 86 just opened, what’s that process been like from a drinks perspective?
When I started in November, the wheels for everything were very much in motion. But it was excellent working with our creative directors, Jeremy and Clay, on making the brands that we made for that venue – Mano e Mano, which is an orange liqueur, Rattlesnake, a spicy liqueur, and then our house beer Angel Oro. Watching those come from drawings on a napkin to fully fledged brands with 100 years of branding [“history”] was awesome. On the walls you’ll see the fake posters and events that these brands have put on – we just made all that up.

Wild, do you have a favourite Mucho bar?
To avoid drama: they’re all my favourite. That being said, Cantina Ok is probably the purest distillation of our group’s approach to hospitality. From its service style to beverage direction, I just love what they do down there and it really represents what we strive for in this company.

What’s your drink order?
I used to be a bit of a wine and beer snob, but these days a schooner of Resch’s will do me fine. If I’m feeling fancy, a Campari soda. At Cantina, I’m having whatever the weekly special is.

What about Bar Planet?
I mean, fuck. You see those ice-cold Martinis come over and think “I could drink 19 of those”. For me, a dry Hendricks Martini with an olive. Or to be honest, just an Ok seltzer.

And Centro 86?
An Angel Oro lager and one of the 200 tequilas on the back bar. I’d say the Tapatio 110 Blanco. It’s like a 55 per cent overproof – gets you where you need to go and tastes pretty yum.

What do you have planned with Mucho?
I can’t say too much, but there’s definitely energy in the office. We’re still looking to make more interesting spaces where people can make meaningful connections – we just want to make Sydney fun again. That sounds like a MAGA line!

No, I like that! You’re going to focus on exceptional experiences.
Yeah, just places where people can chill out, put their phone away, have a chat – just have fun.

What’s your favourite thing about being out and about in Sydney?
I’m sure a million people say this, but I’ve lived in a few cities around the world and Sydney is hands-down one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever lived in. I live in Potts Point, and every morning I get to wake up, go for a run in the botanical gardens, around the Opera House, and I just feel super lucky to be able to do that on a daily basis.

What are the best things you ate and drank this week?
The potato salad at Nom Darlinghurst – I have dreams about it. It’s a tiny little Japanese restaurant run by a husband-wife combo, who’ve been there as long as I’ve been going (for the last six years). And I’ve been spending a lot of time in Martin Place [with Centro 86 opening] and there’s this really good coffee shop called Diggy Doos. Their filter coffee is awesome. What I like about the place is they’re not pretentious about coffee – but they serve amazing coffee. The guy that runs it, he’s always smiley and down to have a chat. He gives his expertise without making you feel small. Which I think a lot of people in the drinks space forget to do that.