Max Greco & 1989 – One of Heering´s 200 year

Words by: Hayden Wood

Born & raised in Calabria Italy, Max moved to London at the age of 23 to start working as a barista, at a small bar called Bank.  After working Bank for 10 months under the guidance of Grant Collins, he moved onto Zander in London for 6 years.  In 2006 Max moved to Sydney and was fortunate to work in a few of the best bars Australia had to offer including; Zeta Bar, Bayswater Brasserie and Eau De Vie. Max is now the proud owner, drummer and captain of his own bar, Vasco, in Sydney’s Surry Hills where Rock N’ Roll shares centre stage with crafted cocktails and a legendary party atmosphere.

Max chose 1989 as a year from the history of Cherry Heering not because of steely guns and cherry red roses. “Well, 1989 it is special to me in terms of cocktails because at the end of 1989 Tommy DeMayo (father of my great friend Julio DeMayo) created the Tommy’s Margarita in San Francisco, California. Tommy’s Restaurant en Cantina has been open since 1965 and they’re still celebrating 50 years!”

“Apart from being one of my top 3 favourite cocktails ever, it is the first cocktail where agave nectar or agave syrup, whatever you want to call it, was first introduced into a cocktail.”

“1989 was also the year when a lot of my favourite bands started shaking off the 80’s hairspray and ushered in the new generation guitar music. Bands like Guns N Roses, Pearl Jam, Nirvana & The Red Hot Chilli Peppers provided the soundtrack to my cocktail education.”

Max is a guy who truly loves the industry and one visit to his bar gives you clues to where he sees bartending heading. “Sustainability. Zero wastage. Some of this started in London but its now being embraced all over the world, especially the United States & Australia.

“To give you a quick example, you have a bunch of mint. You use the sprig for your garnish, you use the leaves to muddle or something then you’re left with the stems. We used to throw them away. No more. Some use them to infuse spirits, some people make mint powder or some people use it to make a flavoured sugar syrup.”

“What I’m trying to say is that we try to use everything from our fruit, our veg and our herbs. We try not to waste anything. I think that’s the biggest thing at the moment. And also, I see there’s a lot of lost classic cocktails coming back. They are the ones that will get you out of trouble on a busy day. Sustainability and go back to the old bloody great cocktails!”

Max is also on a one man mission to not take himself and the industry too seriously and to re-inject good old fashioned simplicity, entertainment and fun back into the bar scene.“I don’t know. We’re all rock stars now. We all want to be someone. We’re missing the good part of the ball, which is the fun. Some places are sterile. Some are too obsessive. You can see through social media – bartenders arguing amongst themselves about recipes. These things have already been done before but now they add all sorts of mists and smoke! I wonder if the bar industry could be a little more simple. Simple and fun.”

Fun is what Max and his bar Vasco is all about. A night out with Max and Cherry Heering is a night to remember! “A couple of years ago the beautiful Adele Robberstad from Cherry Heering visited Australia and came to my bar. After a few Blood & Sand’s Adele, me and a couple of mates decided to go out for a drink. I’m like, what a great idea. Let’s go out.”

“I don’t know how but we ended up in a seriously iconic gay bar in Kings Cross called Stonewall. We were probably the only straight people in there and there was some sort of talent contest / strip show on where the winner gets $50!”

“Suddenly my legs just walked themselves on to the stage. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m turning around and everybody’s, hey, take your pants off! So, I took my pants off. Then I turned around and realised it was a competition for the best ass.” “The winner was judged by a round of applause from all these lovely people around the room and guess what? I won the fucking fifty bucks. The only straight guy in the room wins the fifty bucks! Singapore Slings are on me!”

Max continues to practice what he preaches – sustainability, simplicity, great drinks but most of all Rock N’ Roll and a $50 piece of ass!


Makes 1 drink

45 ml Calle 23 Criollo Tequila Blanco 49.3% ABV

25 ml fresh lime juice

15 ml Cherry Heering

10 ml Spicy Monin white Chocolate

Glass: Rocks

Method: Shake e strain into a chill rock glass with big ice cube.

Garnish:  smoked cherry on a stick


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