The world of drinks is booming. Trendy spots seem to be popping up left and right and cocktail hipsters with big beards and suspenders are roaming wild. Cocktails trends are moving at a pace I can’t keep up with. So, I decided to sit down with the man who not only keeps up with the trends but sets a couple of his own along the way: Mr. Alex Kratena.
Alex was awarded the Best International Bartender at Tales of the Cocktail in 2012 and Bar Personality of the Year 2013 by Imbibe Magazine. He is the former Head Bartender of Artesian, which under his stewardship was recognized as Number 1 in the World’s 50 Best Bar Awards by Drinks International in 2015, for the fourth consecutive year.
“I love drinking everything non-alcoholic and alcoholic. Most of my twenties, my mother couldn’t understand the concept of somebody traveling the world and making drinks. She actually thought I was a drug dealer,” Alex says jokingly. “When I was 16 I left my parents’ house and started to work in bars, cafes, pubs and restaurants. Slowly but surely I explored the world of cocktails and it was very intriguing. The range of products you can work with is fascinating and always developing.”
Sharing Drinks Knowledge
Nowadays, Alex runs a small consulting company together with Monica Berg and Simone Caporale. He says the company works with everything from product development and training to marketing strategies and designing new shops. The big question of ‘are we ever going to see Alex behind the counter again’ is quickly answered, “our main goal is to open our own bar”.
When it comes to the current state of drinks, Alex feels like the education of future bartenders is key. “When we talk about the global bar scene, we can all agree that it’s constantly changing. The funny thing is that the only thing that never seems to change is the way we teach younger generations about making drinks.”
Alex is also one of the founders of P(OUR), a not-for-profit organization, which is all about sharing drinks knowledge. They currently have a P(OUR) Community Project focused on prevention of poverty in the northeast Peru.
Cocktail as a unique experience
Talking about the current trends in the world of drinks Alex thinks bartenders and bars have reached a stage where they can do what they really enjoy. “You see some amazing bars really focusing on local and seasonal produce. With places like the Scout in London that only uses British produce. The Native bar in Singapore where everything from the design of the chairs to music and ingredients in the drinks is from the region. So, I think there is a big focus on individuality.”
The top cocktail bars seem to be following in the footsteps of the best restaurants in the world. A unique location and unique experience with dishes, or drinks in this case, that you can’t try anywhere else. “I think the next step for bars is to go towards this direction”, says Alex.
What makes a good drink?
“It’s balance. Balance is the key to life. Many people wonder ‘what is balance’? Balance is the harmonious relationship amongst the individual components. A great cocktail is affected by light, music, the scent in the air - all the way to the glass, the ice you use, how you combine the flavors, what is the composition, what is the texture etc. There are lots of different elements. As you become more knowledgeable in crafting those experiences, you pay more attention to every single one of these elements and thus create better cocktails.”
“A perfect cocktail doesn’t exist but it’s beautiful to every day try to get a little bit closer,” Alex continues.
Alex is quite candid about his favorite drink, “to be honest with you, my favorite cocktail is the one in my glass. I’m really passionate about everything and I see no reason to restrict myself. I’m always in the mood for something different.”
For a nice aperitif drink Alex suggests the readers of FineDiningLovers.com:
2cl Absolut Elyx
2cl Vermouth Rosso
1 Squeezed tangerine
Shake it and top it up with tonic water. “This perfect aperitif is like if a Negroni, Americano and Vodka Tonic had a baby.”