Drinking Victoria: William Wade

Published on 2 July 2020

Photo: William Wade, co-founder of Non

William Wade is co-founder and drink-maker of Non, a range of innovative alcohol-free beverages that push the boundaries of expectation. Will has had a varied career, from chasing pirates in the Royal Australian Navy to working as a chef in award-winning Australian and international restaurants including Noma in Copenhagen and Sydney.

Each Non release has its own individual style, capturing Will’s provocative use of ingredients without comparison or compromise, with bottlings ranging from caramelised pear with kombu, verjus and olive brine to roast beetroot and sansho with Murray River salt. Since launching last year, Non beverages have quickly found their way onto the lists of many of Australia’s top restaurants including Supernormal, Pt Leo Estate and Quay, often included in soft pairings for tasting menus.

Here’s what Will has been drinking lately.

The last three delicious things I drank were the Lamington cocktail from Byrdi that contains a delicious and genius cocoa-butter distillate. Luke Whearty is really lifting the tempo on all things drinks in Australia. Then there was the Zonin Amarone Della Valpolicella, a brilliant Italian red wine made by drying the grapes slightly before pressing. It has Port notes and is really easy to drink. It just makes you happy. And I loved the O.My and Sailors Grave Garden State collab – a delicious pale ale, full of flavour, straight out of the O.My garden. 

As far as I’m concerned, the defining place to get a drink in Victoria is any good Victorian country pub. There should be three or four bar flies in there talking about the time Darryl ran over his mate on the tractor. A couple of ultimate favourites are in East Gippsland – the Marlo Hotel and the Genoa Pub.

When someone hands me a wine list in a restaurant, I go straight to the European whites, then check the non-alcoholic section. I love hearing the history behind the wines and educating myself about each region. It helps that my partner is Belgian and knows a lot about wine.

The Victorian spirit I’m loving most right now is Marionette Mûre. It’s a liqueur they make from Tassie blackberries, and you can really taste the amazing quality of the fruit.

There’s no better value on wine list or in a bottle-shop in this state than the entire list at the O.My Bar in Beaconsfield. Their bottles are so affordable compared to places closer to the city.

My favourite place to buy drinks is Good Pair Days online. These guys are so good at expanding your knowledge and introducing you to wines you’d never know about. Each recommendation is amazingly tailored because of their intro questionnaire, and you can trust that they’ll send you only stuff that you’ll love.

I’d love to see someone utilising the expansive Aussie desert to grow something that they could turn into a bar product. There’s so much land out there that could be put to use.

My guilty pleasure in the at the bar is Averna on the rocks. Perfect after a nice meal with a slice of orange.

The best or most important change to the way we drink in Victoria in recent years has been the quest for non-alcoholic beverages. I might be biased, but I truly believe that it’s a path that’s not nearly been explored to the fullest, and the possibilities are boundless. 

For me, the most inspiring person in the Victorian drinks world is Luke Whearty. He’s changing the way people drink in bars. He’s almost “restaurantifying” the experience at his bar, Byrdi. He makes much of the elements for each drink from scratch, including his own flavoured liquor. You walk in there and it reminds you of a fine-dining restaurant kitchen with all the different stations and staff plating up drinks like chefs. It’s very cool. 

For more information and to purchase from Non’s range of 0% beverages, visit non.world or look for them at retail outlets including Blackhearts & Sparrows and Meatsmith. Throughout Dry July, purchase any triple pack from Non's website with the promo code DRYJULY and receive a fourth bottle free of charge. You will also find Non in the non-alcoholic section of drinks lists at numerous fine establishments across Australia, Singapore and Japan.

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