Food and Drink

How This Sydney Bar-Owner Went From IT Nerd to Tiki Lord

"Making drinks really is just 10% of the job – the real highlight is seeing how much the venues that started as scribbles in my note page mean to some people,"


Pasan Wijesena is the 42-year-old owner of beloved Sydney bars Earl’s Juke Joint and Jacoby’s Tiki Bar.

Earl’s Juke Joint is a neighbourhood cocktail bar influenced by the saloons in New Orleans and has a focus on natural wine and classic cocktails (with a slight twist). Wijesena’s other venue, Jacoby’s Tiki Bar is (as the name suggests), a tiki bar inspired by iconic filmmaker David Lynch with a garage indie-rock soundtrack.

Having began his career in IT and quickly realising it wasn’t for him, Pasan has been working in hospitality for 10 years. He was part of the opening team at Shady Pines Saloon, alongside countless cocktail pioneers that went on to open their own venues, which inspired him to do the same and create his own place, inspired by all of his favourite things.

If David Lynch films, indie-rock soundtracks and tiki-style drinks are anything to go by, we reckon we could spend a lot of time in Pasan Wijesena’s house.

After 10 years in the industry, Wijesena says that he still gets a kick out of seeing someone new walk through the door for the first time.

“Making drinks really is just 10% of the job – the real highlight is seeing how much the venues that started as scribbles in my note page mean to some people,” he tells Thrillist Australia.

Aside from being a massive music and film nerd, Pasan Wijesena is known for his intricate yet fun cocktails, although his favourites take us back to basics.

“I can’t say no to a classic Americano! It has that delicious bittersweetness from the Campari but is still incredibly refreshing thanks to the soda water.”


This is a day in the life of Pasan Wijesena:

3am – Hopefully still fast asleep

5am – Still hopefully fast asleep!

7am – Time to get up. I need to wake up my son, make up breakfast and get him ready and out the door for school

8:30am – School drop off time!

9am After I’ve dropped my son off at school, I’ll hit the gym followed by a much-needed coffee.

10:30am – Time to start my work day! This means answering emails, making phone calls, sitting in meetings, followed by prepping and bottling our ready-to-drink cocktails.

2:45pm – By mid-afternoon, I’ll usually realise that I haven’t had a chance to eat lunch! I’ll quickly grab something easy like sushi.

3pm – Time to pick up my son from school

6pm – I’ll cook us some dinner, then give my son a bath and get him ready for bed. I’ll usually read to him for around 30 mins each night and then put him to sleep around 8.

8:30pm – It’s time to work on my menus, bottling and any events we’re running at the venues.

10pm – Time to unwind by watching some TV, read a book, or play around with my playlists.

12pm–1am – Bedtime.

1:30am–2:30am – Wake up with some crazy idea, write it down, and go back to sleep. This is usually when I’ll come up with my best ideas!

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Food and Drink

Red Rooster Is Serving Free Chicken and Piping Hot Cash This Christmas in July

Get your early dose of festive cheer.

Red Rooster Christmas in July
Instagram / @redrooster_au

The cold weather in most parts of Australia coinciding with EOFY celebrations is the closest thing that we’ll get to snowy Christmas vibes. And if you’re in dire need of some festive cheer after the first six months of 2023, grab your ugly sweater and head to your nearest Red Rooster for Xmas in July deals.

From June 29 – July 31, 2023, Red Rooster is serving up free food items, a chance to win $10,000 or one of 10 merch packs valued at $400 and other fun prizes. All you have to do is sign up as a Red Royalty member and spend $5 on at a location near you or online.

Each week there’ll be new delicious deals and prizes to win. The week one deals have already dropped and they’re looking pretty tasty. You can get access to them via your Red Royalty account. The more you purchase, the more chances you have to win.

Spoiler alert: you can get 10 chicken nuggets for free, right now. Brb running to Red Rooster.

Terms and conditions apply. Visit Red Rooster’s Christmas in July to see all the deals.


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