Creativity and female empowerment key for Kayla Grigoriou

02 September, 2020 by Andy Young

As a woman who writes about the Australian bar scene, one of the most inspiring parts of my job is talking to some amazing kick ass women of the industry.

So this week was made all the better after speaking to the incredible Kayla Grigoriou from Adelaide, who is the Venue Manager of Bar Torino, as well as the Distiller and Founder of Needle and Pin Spirits.


Grigoriou grew up alongside the industry – her family own and operate Portia Valley Wines, with multiple generations of viticulturalists and winemakers in their history. At around 19 years old when she was at uni studying law, working odd jobs in the family winery was all she knew. But she also really wanted a part time job, and so took her resume into a local pub, being offered a trial shift the very next day.

“I told them I had experience… I was like yes I’m great with people, and I can carry three plates and I can make cocktails. But I had no idea how to do any of it,” Grigoriou joked.

“But I learned a lot – pubs are so fast paced and it’s a way that you really learn quickly and you learn how to be a fast worker, because you have to be.”

From this first experience with the on-premise industry and ever since, Grigoriou has thrown herself into learning. She has taken advice and education from Adelaide industry legends like Jamie Gardner, Ollie Margan and Maria Favaro, who is also the owner of Bar Torino.

Through a self described ‘hunger to learn’ and ‘awkwardly fierce loyalty’ to her venues, as well as a love of creativity, Grigoriou fell in love with the industry. She already knew she hated law and after being introduced to the world of gin, knew that she wanted to work in bars full time.

“I love being on my feet and talking to people and being creative – for me that’s a big thing because I’m a pretty creative person most days,” Grigoriou said.

“I really like this industry for that – whether you’re running a restaurant, or you’re behind the bar or working in a distillery or brewery or winery – you’re creative and you’re creating and putting something out there that you could be really proud of.

“I’ve made some amazing friends in this industry and met some phenomenal people. You know, someone like Nick Tesar really turned it around for me as well. Watching him run Bar Liberty and have Marionette and do all these amazing things… I was like, this is who I want to be when I’m older.”

This all contributed to why Grigoriou didn’t just settle for playing with creativity behind the bar, but also took it to the back bar itself. Exploring the world of gin and all its variations, she began thinking about what she would tweak in certain products to make them better, which developed a step further into actually creating the product itself with Needle and Pin Spirits.

“What really drew me to distilling was the thought that I want to make a gin that I really liked. I loved Martinis, but I dislike olives and olive brine… I wanted that same sort of earthy character that you get and that kind of salty flavour,” Grigoriou said.

For more from Grigoriou about the launch of Needle and Pin and advice for other women in the industry, head to Bars and Clubs.