With Sydney’s The Barber Shop and The Barber Shop at Barangaroo he has created new levels of sophistication for gentlemen, while also catering to the finest tastes at The Barber’s Shop’s speakeasy bar and Barangaroo’s Gin & It. His dedication to cocktails, in particular gin, led him to be crowned bar operator of the year at the Australian Bar Awards in 2014 and he was this year named on Australian Bartender’s most influential list. He is Michael ‘Mikey’ Enright and this is his story.
“I left school and went into hairdressing, doing my certificates with Headlines in Southport before getting involved in the pub business. Then I completed a bachelor of arts with honours in marketing and design at the University of Central Lancashire, and then moved into cocktails bars and off to London.
“Never could have predicted that I’d end up running two barbershops and a bar, not in a million years.
“It’s good to be in the barber business right now. The craft of the bartender and barber are quite similar in that they’re both old skills. I feel quite lucky to be in a position where I can be part of their returns.
“I’m very passionate about the barber industry: I never imagined I’d be in at all after I left, so coming back and trying to understand the culture has been interesting. I’m keen on really trying to keep those old methods alive and getting guys to use them and get good consistency, and I’m lucky to be doing that while mixing in the bar space as well.
“At the moment I’m getting close to delivering a project which has been a while in the making. I’m bringing out a gin scented hand soap and hair paste. The idea started because I’m not that keen on the bay rum scent used in barbershops and thought ‘wouldn’t it be cool if we could do a gin scent?’ and it went from there. I spent a lot of time to name it and did research into my family history, even got the family crest on the label.
“I started drinking gin because I had a landlady who used to drink a lot of gin and tonics. Once I found out more about it I learned there’s a lot of beautiful history and my attachment has grown as I go deeper and deeper. I find gin absolutely fascinating. Having said that, I still drink everything else.
“It’s going to be very interesting to see what talented barbers migrate – bringing with them different skills and techniques – to Australia over the next year or so as the barber scene and its opportunities expand.