Shaun Byrne is the director of two of Victoria's most happening and awarded beverage brands.

Maidenii, a barnstorming line of local vermouths; and Marionette, a suite of starburst liqueurs you’ll find on the shelves of the city’s better bars; often a sign you’re in safe hands.

When he’s not making excellent hooch, you’ll find him adjudicating at the Australia Distilled Spirits Awards, a competition he’s been involved with since its inception in 2015. Here’s what he drinks when he’s drinking Victorian.

The last three delicious things I drank were… Conveniently I was on a wintry break last weekend in the Yarra Valley where many delicious beverages were consumed. My top three would be:

  • A Martini made with Four Pillars Yuzu Gin and Maidenii Kina Quinquina.

  • A Holgate Temptress chocolate porter (an oldie but a goodie, something I drink frequently in the cooler months).

  • A hot chocolate made on a billy in the campfire (with a slug of Marionette Orange Curacao for the adults).

When someone hands me a drinks list, I usually read it cover to cover; I tend to pay more attention to it than the food menu. As for what I order I couldn’t say, there are too many variables: the weather, the food, the company, the mood.

My favourite thing to pour beer with at the table is a toasted chicken sandwich laden with Tabasco and served with cornichons. Working at Gin Palace for eight years taught me that it’s the best thing in the world to accompany any drink, in fact.

As far as I’m concerned, the defining places to get a drink in Victoria are the many cellar doors around the state. Drinking at the source and talking to the passionate people that make the product is perfect.

There’s no better value on drinks list or in a bottle-shop in this state than… I’m not sure if they still do it, but La Pinta in Reservoir used to do $5 glasses of vermouth. If that isn’t enough, the food is also great value and delicious.

My favourite place to buy booze is the cellar door; again, the best way to directly support the producer.

I’d love to see us planting more native botanicals that are used in the production of both food and drinks. There has been an explosion of use in the past decade which has sometimes led to difficulty in sourcing particular botanicals.

My guilty pleasure at the bar is Baileys. One of my first jobs was at a nightclub, so when knock-off rolled around at 5am I would be quite hungry and grab my box of cornflakes and pour over a Baileys and milk. So in short, Baileys is my guilty pleasure, except these days I drink it in its natural liquid form from time to time rather than eating it.

The Victorian spirit I’m loving most right now is Four Pillars Yuzu Gin which I rediscovered on holidays – certainly front and centre come Martini o’clock at the moment.

The best or most important change to the way we drink in Victoria in recent years has been the excise rebate that has come to the spirits producers in the last few years has helped those already in the game and encouraged new players to get involved. The more local producers the better, in my opinion, which hopefully takes some share away from the big international brands.

For me, the most inspiring people in the Victorian drinks world are my two business partners from my two liquor brands. Gilles Lapalaus who pioneered the pét-nat movement in Australia before it was cool and who is currently doing wonderful things in the world of vermouth. The other is Nick Tesar, recently crowned best bartender in Australia (and nearly the world), and more recently, Four Pillars’ creative director of gin drinks. One of the most affable people in the industry and someone who will give his time up for anyone.