Three Minute Squiz With… Stu Gregor and Sal Lewis

Sal Lewis is the better half of the all-conquering Liquid Ideas duo, and whose other – more rambunctious half – is the indomitable Stu Gregor. When they’re not running their successful PR agency, Stu is the brains behind Four Pillars (you’ll recall we worked with them to create some Squizalicious gin cocktail recipes). Please welcome our first husband-and-wife duo to the Three Minute Squiz.

How and where do you Squiz?
Stu: I Squiz pretty much as soon as it drops on my phone – could be in bed, at the airport or after a twice weekly, VERY early training session with the wife that we now do at home. My plank is much better than hers – she’s a bridge, not a plank. But I sweat more. I hate the fact she hardly sweats.

Sal: I like to Squiz on my own with the first coffee of the day at work. We definitely don’t Squiz together.

You are a husband and wife team at home and at work. Some say marriage and working together can be ‘challenging’. How do you make it work?
Stu: I like the inverted commas around ‘challenging’ – such a little apostrophe that can say so much… Look, it has posed a few challenges but right now I am spending most of my time on Four Pillars while Sal continues as a driving force at Liquid Ideas so the pressure and ‘challenge’ has eased somewhat. I actually quite like sharing stuff and chatting about work – we know what each other does really well and occasionally we can even help each other out. At least it stops us from being one of those tedious couples that can only talk about their children…

Sal: Everyone knows I’m a saint having to put up with Stu as both wife and business partner. I have to make it work otherwise the gin stops. Seriously, Stu is the hardest worker I know so he’s a pretty inspiring bloke to work and play alongside.

It certainly seems that gin is the spirit-of-the-hour. We reckon Four Pillars was way ahead of the curve, how did you predict the trend?
Stu: I am a sage, pure and simple. And I went to a tarot card reader at the Bondi markets one morning and Zoula laid it all out for me… Honestly, my winemaking exploits were coming up a little short so I figured hard liquor might just be the way to go – and if it failed we could just sit on a porch nursing negronis until the pain went away. Turns out, we did mostly the right things at mostly the right time and now we are so famous I need my own security detail when I go into a bar. That might actually be for other reasons…

Sal: Luckily Stu surrounds himself with great people who are always are up for a challenge. This time it was gin, and it’s doing OK.

Whilst establishing and owning a gin distillery sounds like a lot of fun, we’re sure it been a whole heap of hard work. What have been the biggest hurdles?
Stu: First of all, it actually IS a lot of fun – buying a giant alcohol machine was simply the BEST idea for a man heading straight into a classic, mid-life crisis. The ludicrously high excise on spirits in this country is a major hurdle but when I talk about that I get a little stressed and a rash starts creeping up my neck.

Sal: Some hurdles, but more fun.

Since 2000 you have owned and run PR consultancy agency, Liquid Ideas. With 20 employees, it’s safe to say you are successful businesspeople. Give us your top three pieces of business advice?
1. Never, ever think you are established or successful as a small business ‘cos it can all disappear pretty quick and there’s a bigger guy out there keen to crush you. So NEVER take the foot off the pedal. You can reflect on how successful you were when you retire and you’re rocking back and forth with those negronis.

2. Always be REALLY nice to everyone – wherever possible. You don’t have to be an arsehole in business, in fact, it’s much better if you’re not. People actually like doing business with people who are nice, respectful and fun.

3. Never miss a pay day or a super payment for your staff. If you can’t pay your staff properly then you really shouldn’t be in business, so have a good think about alternatives before it’s too late.

Your website states “we believe in being the perfect hosts”. Who would you have to your dream dinner party?
Stu: I just like interesting, funny people who feel like they’d be great company. So I’m going to invite Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell and Steve Carrell and then just some mates, so I can brag. And Bill Murray of course – I might ask him to leave his German cellist mate at home – and Sal of course, and the kids.

Sal: I want to sing and dance so Hugh Jackman, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the hot guy from Gang of Youths. I’m shallow.

What are you cooking?
Stu: I’m cooking steak. Flank steak from Rangers Valley. And I’m cooking it medium rare. So no dietaries and no menu variations.

Sal: So I’ll be doing the salad then.

And what are we drinking?
Stu: We are starting with a giant jug of Bloody Shiraz “sangria” which is Bloody Shiraz gin, Campari, Cointreau, bitter lemon, soda water and some citrus. And then we’re drinking riesling from WA, chardonnay from the Yarra, pinot from Tassie and Burgundy, WA cabernet sauvignon and Barolo. Hey, it’s gonna be a big day – this won’t happen again any time soon…

Sal: Luckily we share the same tastes in booze.

Alright, which of the Four Pillars Gin’s are you most proud of and why?
Stu: The Rare Dry gin because it is our original and still, I think, the best. And it won our first ever gold medal, and it still makes the world’s best G&T.

Sal: Bloody Shiraz, because I came up with the name.

What does your ideal weekend look like?
Stu: Well, it starts with Cameron Diaz but I don’t think that’s what you are asking… If possible it’s a quiet Friday night at home with takeaway, a good bottle of wine and a movie. Saturday would be competitive triumphs for both kids at sport followed by a Hong-Ha vietnamese roll (in an ideal weekend I don’t have to queue – the kids do that, willingly). Saturday night is a small BBQ at home with just a couple of mates, Sunday is a long walk with the dogs and maybe the beach in Summer. Then a really cruisy afternoon to ease everyone back into the week. PS. This NEVER happens but, we can dream.

Sal: Ditto. Kids, lots of food, a long read of the paper, an old movie. But definitely not Cameron Diaz.

What’s your go-to karaoke song? Surely you have a duet up your sleeve?
Stu: Mine is Flame Trees, Wonderwall or Livin’ on a Prayer. You gotta get people singing along.

Sal: I think we should do Islands in the Stream or Don’t Go Breaking My Heart as a duet. And Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing.

Most overrated virtue?
Stu: Honesty. That’s a lie.

Sal: Temperance.

What qualities do you most value in your friends?
Stu: Sense of humour. I swear to god, all I want to do is laugh. Make me laugh and I’m yours forever. Just don’t be funnier than me.

Sal: As I keep telling the kids, in a world where you can be anything, choose kind.

And finally, what would you say is the most currently overlooked news story we should know about?
Stu: It’s not a single story but it’s a whole news world that seems to no longer value, or accept, or have time to deal with nuance, accepting things are complicated, that black or white aren’t the only two possible responses to issues. That and Donald Trump, I feel like his Presidency isn’t getting enough coverage.

Sal: There are so many good stories to tell out there. I’m in PR.

For a complete list of the Four Pillars cocktails we’ve featured in The Squiz, click here

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