Bartender Ollie Margan brings cocktail genius home to Newcastle

ON A ROLL: The talented Ollie Margan is breathing new life into The Landing Bar & Kitchen at Honeysuckle. Picture: Josh Geelen
ON A ROLL: The talented Ollie Margan is breathing new life into The Landing Bar & Kitchen at Honeysuckle. Picture: Josh Geelen

Ollie Margan is a Hunter Valley native making a name for himself in South Australia.

His surname might sound familiar to Newcastle Herald readers. Margan is the son of winemaker Andrew Margan and his restaurateur wife Lisa who own Margan Estate in Broke, known for its quality wine and one-hatted restaurant.

The Adelaide-based bartender, 25, co-owns and runs Maybe Mae and Bread & Bone. One is a moody cocktail den and three-time “cocktail bar of the year” winner at the Australian Bartender Awards, and the other a grill restaurant in Adelaide’s Peel Street.

Margan also part-owns Adelaide restaurant Shobosho with head chef Adam Liston and is beverage director there. It opened just six months ago and won a Chef’s Hat at this year’s Good Food Guide awards. And, in August, Margan was named one of the top 25 “bar influencers” in Australia by Drinks World magazine.

Drinks World magazine release a Top 100 Bartenders list each year which is voted on by distributors, ambassadors, industry publications and influencers. The Top 100 then vote for each other and a Top 25 is announced,” Margan told Food & Wine.

“It is incredibly humbling for me being the sole representative from South Australia and it’s reassuring that I and the bar are on the right track in terms of progression and relevance.”

Margan moved to Adelaide at the start of 2012 to study winemaking at Adelaide University. He took up some bar work to pay the bills and the rest is history. 

Given his success in Adelaide, what prompted a return to Newcastle? His parents own The Landing Bar & Kitchen at Honeysuckle and Margan has been called in to “refocus the drinks offering”.

“We are teaming up with a bunch of key brands and distributors to provide a diverse craft beer offering on tap and in the fridge and a large gin and tonic menu. The cocktails will be a major focus at The Landing once again and I will be curating that list as well as training staff in-house.”

Margan predicts cocktails will be “light, bright and effervescent” this summer.

“There will be a real focus on aperitivo, which is perfect for a coastal summer, and drinks that are lighter in alcohol but have flavour in spades. Spritz-style cocktails will be a focus – the classic Aperol spritz and Americano will be met with some in-house creations such as the Positano and the Venetian.”