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Corner of the World: Phillip A. Jones

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There is a voyeur in all of us. Come inside the private spaces and places of some of Canberra’s most interesting people.

Phillip A. Jones, martini whisperer, spirit consultant, national tourism judge

Phillip A. Jones kicked off his career as the official “martini whisperer” one night during a tipsy tweet. He responded to a call from the ACT Government in the lead up to Canberra’s Centenary celebrations in 2013 to create official martini to celebrate.

The debonair business consultant suggested a Centini (providing recipes for both a north and south-side version) and began sharing his superior spirit knowledge with a fascinated crowd.

Having worked as a fine dining manager in Australia and overseas, Phillip’s flair for taste and spectacle quickly opened a new career pathway.

He’s now an Associate Member of the Australian Distillers Association, a judge for the Canberra and Capital Tourism Awards and a national judge for the Australian Tourism Awards. He even presented the first ever TED talk on the Martini. He takes his craft very seriously.

On any given late afternoon, you will find him at his cocktail wagon, under the glow of a newly installed neon insignia, preparing for an evening cocktail.

His wife Edwina, a cultural heritage expert at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, is the lucky recipient of his expertise, while Harry the mutt immediately sits on his mat to watch the spectacle unfold as soon as he hears the clink of ice. Phillip explains the sanctity of the ritual.

“There’s two layers to this, one is my commitment to do a real time Instagram image for my followers, and the other is simply to put a punctuation mark to the work day. I keep the key ingredients and equipment in the fridge (it’s very reassuring at 3pm to know they’re there waiting for me) so they’ve perfectly chilled.  I’ll choose the gin for the occasion, I’m fortunate to have about 100 in my collection, so it’s a question of the mood I’m aiming for, and have a few different mixing sets including vintage glasses and a lovely Georg Jensen silver set.  The right music makes a difference and some nibbles to go with the drinks.”

“I’ll mix my Martini, pour Edwina her drink, bring a water cracker for Harry. We talk about the day, and avoid going online, it’s a chance to connect and reflect. We generally don’t talk about work though, that’s rarely been our way.  Then, with some perspective gained, I’ll compose my Instagram – featuring a new craft spirit or some cocktail inspiration, and it’s time to organise dinner.

The pair has amassed an impressive collection of indigenous art and mid-Century furniture in their Willemsen-designed townhouse in Pearce – found by Edwina while Phillip was on a work trip.

With both maintaining a heavy schedule of work travel, time at home is savoured. Phillip’s favourite domain is the living room.

“It brings all the things we love together in a cosy and convivial space.  The artworks we’ve collected, my cocktail wagons, the natural light, and colours, Edwina has done a wonderful job composing all the elements. There is my collection of craft spirits of course, so they’re an inspiration for new creations. As a practical living space for just us, or for entertaining our friends, it’s perfect.”

Photography: Thorson Photography

This article originally appeared as part of our Corner of the World article in Magazine: Home for Autumn 2018, available for free while stocks last. Find out more about Magazine here

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