Grey Goose Global Ambassador, Joe McCanta

Elizabeth Chapman
24th Sep 2014

We were lucky enough to catch Grey Goose's Global Ambassador, Joe McCanta, on his first trip to Australia. Interviewing him a top Sydney, at O Bar and Dining, we appreciated Grey Goose's choice of representative. Not only does Joe boast an encyclopaedic knowledge of alcohol and cocktails, but he articulates a matured, educated fervour for the product he represents. Grey Goose assaults the stereotypical perception of Vodka's mediocrity and tastelessness. Indeed, they dispel traditional definitions of it as a neutral spirit, "without distinctive character, aroma, taste or colour", replacing them with a product of the highest quality; a powerhouse of flavour and versatility. Here's a snippet of our conversation with the connoisseur:

Starting out as a burgeoning Jazz musician in New York, how was it that you came work for Grey Goose?

I started to bartend (as many students do) for cash to pay the bills. As I began to enjoy it more, I spent more and more time bar-tending. It was really when The New York Times then wrote a piece about the bar I was working in, that my whole trajectory changed. From there, I began to pick up consultancy work, leading me to work in Istanbul, Munich and now London [where McCanta is based]. When I arrived in London, I began working with Grey Goose extensively, and it was from there that I came to be hired as their Global Ambassador.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Well ... I like to say that I have a normal 9-5 job. Only, it's 9am - 5am. My days are usually at the office, conducting training sessions and researching how the product is being used and appreciated within bars and restaurants. My evenings are generally spent at events, showcasing Grey Goose and launching it to new audiences and industry members alike.

What is your favourite thing about the brand that you represent?

The thing that resonates most about Grey Goose is that it’s a company that has always been about going 'against the grain'. Grey Goose is about making Vodka express the true essence and flavour of its ingredients - not just being an odourless, tasteless spirit. Grey Goose was the first to really introduce Vodka as a premium product. We shipped it in wooden crates; we discussed and prioritised the providence of its ingredients - sourcing Picardy’s best wheat, “Blé Panifiable Supérieur” and using only the purest water from Gensac in its production. Even now, as Grey Goose continues to move forward, it's always about doing things differently.

 What is in your recipe for a good bar?

The main thing is that they are places that think about the guest experience... They're acutely aware of the situation of each of their guests and will aim the drinks and the environment around you. It's not just about the drink.

In chatting with Joe, he shares his recent observation of public trends – towards a focus on the providence of ingredients, and the way spirits are made. This has translated to a rise in experimental cocktail making with fresh ingredients, new botanicals and spices. It has also seen the resurgence of Tiki bars, extravagant garnishes and drinks that are centred on performance. All in all, this trend is making cocktail bars exciting theatres of entertainment again – not just somewhere to pick up a drink... and that is most definitely something we can get on board with!

Bearing witness to Grey Goose’s plethora of concoctions – everything from a Martini made with black truffle and plum vinegar Grey Goose, to the Le Fizz – Grey Goose paired with St-Germain and lime, to a French Negroni – we can confidently attest to the veracity of this Vodka’s flavour. We have been refreshed in our appreciation for the spirit, and look forward to see it popping up on Sydney’s cocktail lists this summer – beyond the monotonous “Vodka, Lime and Soda”.