When did you start with your bartending life and how?
I started working as a bartender back in 2007. I used to bartend in a very high and luxurious club. This was when I first got in touch with cocktails and when I got really hooked with this industry, started traveling, working, researching, learning about this stuff and now it’s my life.
It became your life because of cocktails and ingredients, or because of money?
Actually, none of them. I was really hooked into the science, history and knowledge about this thing. Creativity was actually the most important role in this job.
What defines great bar for you?
A bar is as good as it’s people. I love to see bars with a nice design, good bartenders, good drinks and just the people, the hospitality,you have to smile, you have to accept your guests the way they are. This is the most important thing for the bar.
Do you have some trends that you don’t agree with, is there something that you don’t want to see in a bar?
That’s a tough question. I think I would really like for this industry not to fall for false marketing that the companies are trying to pass on to bartenders.
Can you name your three favourite bars in the world?
NoMad in New York, Dandelyan in London, and I would have to say Baba au rum in Athens.
I suppose that you’re checked the bar scene in Berlin?
What would be the best bar in Berlin for you?
What is your favourite drink when you’re off duty?
I would always go for a gin tonic or else, if it’s more formal, I would go for a Manhattan.
Okay, nice. You mentioned tonic. You are one of the starters of Three cents brand. What was the initiative to do that?
Well, back in 2013, my partner George and I used to work in this tequila bar called Dos Agaves. We were trying to find some grapefruit soda in order to make the perfect Paloma, to reintroduce the tequila category in Greece. We couldn’t find any. We also liked this long drink trend that was starting back then, and all this aperitif thing that start at that time, and we were actually looking for better sodas, better mixers in our bars. We couldn’t find any and those that we could find, we weren’t pleased with their quality, couldn’t get them at the right price or couldn’t get them delivered to our bar consistently. In order to make a menu you always have to find the products that are high quality but also available at all time. All the existing mixers in the market had not been made for bartenders. They had specific qualities, different than the ones we needed to work with them.
What makes it so different from the competition, so much that diffordsguide made them one of the most outstanding tonics in the world?
What we worked with all the premium brands made by those that we now call the competition. We knew them well. We truly believe that no one makes those mixers the way we do, because we are actually looking from the perspective of the bartender. Actually, we took all those advantages and put them all in a bottle. And all those disadvantages, we discarded them.
Nice strategy. Where is your bar?
I currently working at The Clumsies in the centre of Athens. It’s the 9th best bar in the world in 2016 according to the world’s best 50 bars. I’m very proud of my bar and my bar team.
Is it easy to combine management in Three cents and bartending in the night club?
It’s never easy, but those things are combined. I can’t stop either the one neither the other.
What is your favourite book that you want to recommend to all bartenders before they start with bartending?
I would go with ‘The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique’ by Jeffrey Morgenthaler. If I could turn back time, that is the book I would choose to read for the first time.
Do you see in the future upcoming trends that can make bartending or the bar industry different?
I think we are going to see a lot of premium spirits, premium mixers and products for the bar. I think this is the future. The bars want to make money out of the drinks so they want it to be fast, to be consistent, and the consumers are now being taught by the bartenders so they’re always looking for value for money products and drinks. So I think that all the mixology is going to tire the consumers down and that they will look to more common flavours, common drinks that they know but would require the best quality out of them. So it’s like a vodka lemonade, but the best vodka in the world with fresh lemon juice, sugar and water, a lemonade made on your own perhaps and a big, clear, good quality ice. I think this is the future of bartending.
Now, a lot of bartenders are talking about ice. Could that also be a possible trend in the future?
I think that ice is already a trend. It started 2 or 3 years ago in Japan and now it’s spreading like a disease all over Europe and the whole world. You can understand this by the Hoshizaki machines most bars usually buy but also the fact that bars are using blocks of ice to serve their Negronis, Old Fashioneds and most stirred cocktails.
Do you think that the bartenders job gets the recognition that they deserve as a profession?
Bartenders are working class heroes! They get a lot of money, they get girls, they get to drink for free! It’s a very nice job and that’s why, at least in Greece, the youngsters, the teenagers are looking into learning more about bartending, attending more and more bartending schools. There are new bartending schools opening up so I think they do get the recognition they deserve.
What is your advice to the young bartenders?
My advice is that they should train hard, learn as much as they can, read and buy books, but all of this would not matter without traveling. The biggest investment they should do is travel. It’s completely different to read a book or to actually be there. That is my best advice.
Have you ever been in Croatia?
No, I’ve been in Slovenia.
Too bad, hopefully we will see you next year in Croatia!