The farm to table philosophy affects not only restaurant kitchens, but also gains momentum in getting behind bar counters.
The future of cocktails is said to be in more culinary creations, containing non-standard ingredients such as blue cheese, beets or whale skin. Traditional cocktails like Cosmopolitan, Bloody Mary or Margarita have been reinterpreted using culinary techniques. Ali Dedianko, Belvedere’s global brand ambassador, tells us all about the difference between a mixologist and a bartender and what will everyone be drinking in 2014.
Ali Dedianko’s story could serve as an example that it’s good to follow your passion in life and trust your instincts. A bartender’s career doesn’t have to start and finish behind a bar. She started her adventure with the service industry as a waitress in New York cocktail bars, later she decided to try her hand at bartending, and seeing as she’s getting good at it, she began to create her own cocktails and flavour combinations. She soon realized that what she’s really interested in is mixology. Dedianko opposes to creating forced distinctions between a mixologist and a bartender. – Mixology is another level of the art of bartending; it’s about adding some seriousness and credibility to the bartender’s profession. Mixology is also a craft, but with emphasis on creating. Every mixologist is a bartender, but not every bartender is a mixologist. – she explains.
Dedianko gathered international experience in the best bars in New York and took part in many prestigious competitions for bartenders. Despite her success and big satisfaction from her work, she felt like she’s reaching a wall. In 2010 she took part in the Belvedere Dream Job competition, where the prize was the Global Brand Ambassador’s job. Ali defeated thousands of competitors and got her dream job. Today she is the ambassador of the Belvedere brand, which means she travels the world to educate bartenders.
Less is more
Dedianko is a modern bartending trend observer and notices a turn towards the “back to basic” attitude. – The customers appreciate simple concepts more; both when it comes to bars and cocktails. The idea is to celebrate rather than search for fireworks and new sensations – she says. Dedianko refers to glocalization. Globally we are given access to various ingredients, but instead of obtaining expensive products from the other end of the world, it’s better to look around and try to make something creative from what we have within arms reach. The ingredients of a cocktail should be connected to what the bartender has around him. – A mango pinacolada made in Poland probably won’t taste the same as a mango pinacolada made in India. – she explains.
Kale instead of mint
Making cocktails is no longer limited to mixing juices, various alcohols and fruit. The bartenders, while preparing cocktails, aren’t afraid to use culinary techniques. An interesting idea for a sour cocktail ingredient are so called shrubs, fruit pickled in vinegar with a bit of sugar and water. Shrubs add depth and character to cocktails. Since not long ago there was a trend for molecular mixology that, similarly to gastronomy, was more about creating an experience.
Currently there is a turn towards lowering the sugar content, using vegetables instead of sweet fruit and bigger simplicity in decorating. Ali Dedianko proudly describes her newest production. It’s Pina-Kale-Ada – traditional pinacolada based on kale, which is called “the new spinach” in Great Britain. Another idea is Bloody Mary based on red beets.
New trends influence the consumers’ attitudes, aspirations and behaviours. Dedianko recalls the beginnings of her work behind the bar, where she heard “Make me a cosmopolitan, because I hate vodka”. [editorial note: vodka is a base ingredient of cosmopolitan] Today the consumer ever more often wants to know what’s inside his cocktail and where is it from. There are questions by the bar about where the water used for the ice-cubes came from or which farm do the strawberries in the strawberry daiquiri come from. – It’s great that people ask questions. It has a positive influence on the quality of what we get in our glasses. – Dedianko explains.
Since you’re already drinking alcohol, why not have a well made cocktail with high quality ingredients? The quality of the ingredients also influences your wellbeing on the next day. – I use Belvedere vodka for my cocktails, because it doesn’t contain sugar or any chemical additives. During my courses for bartenders I always emphasise, that too much sugar in a cocktail gives you a headache on the next day. It’s good that the consumers read the labels ever more often. If you can find a name there, that you can’t pronounce, you’re probably better off not drinking it.
Food and cocktail pairing
The cocktail drinking culture slowly spreads outside in-bar situations. Tasting dinners, where liqueurs, beers or cocktails are served instead of wine are becoming more common. It’s not about serving regular-sized cocktails with each dish. It’s rather about creating their miniatures, e.g. 50 ml, with lower alcohol content. Like in the case of wine and food, the goal is to find the perfect flavour pairing. The main difference is that a cocktail can be created from scratch. Wine already has its features, whereas a cocktail made from scratch can be fully integrated with the dish.
– I think that this trend has a big chance to become popular on the eastern-European market. In Poland, Russia or Ukraine there is a tradition of drinking well-chilled vodka with the meal. It’s not about exhausting the palate with heavy cocktails, but rather about creating an alternative to wine. – Dedianko explains.
Service in gastronomy
According to Allison Dedianko working in gastronomy shapes your character, teaches you humility and proper communication with people. – It would be hard for me to do what I do if I haven’t worked as a bartender before. I went through all the stages of the bartending profession and I experienced first-hand how much sacrifice it requires. I think that everyone, at a point in their life, should work in a restaurant. Sometimes I joke that if I became the president I’d introduce obligatory minimum 6-month gastronomy service between the ages of 18 and 25. – she says.
The cocktail-drinking culture is in its blooming phase in Poland, but a blooming market presents many more opportunities. – It’s a pleasure to see how fast the cocktail-drinking culture is developing in Poland. Polish bartenders are extremely curious; they follow the news, travel, win international competitions. I see a lot of potential there!
The article was published in the Food Service Magazine (www.foodservice24.pl)