What was the last drink you had personally?
A dry martini with Tanqueray No.TEN gin, Noily Pratt vermouth, and orange bitters.
You were head hunted for your present role. How did it feel to be picked for a job you hadn’t even applied for?
It's a dream job of every bartender and my dream just came through. It was an amazing opportunity to reopen the bar and the hotel itself as it went through a massive three years renovation.
The American bar is known for its pioneering bartenders; do you look to your predecessors for inspiration?
I always do, researching what my predecessors have created here and using it as an inspiration to create something new. With the famous Gondola party in 1905, The Savoy recreated Venice and filled up the ballroom with water so guests could enjoy dinner from a boat. I filled the fountain in front of the Savoy entrance with 360 litters of Diamond Jubilee punch, which I have created to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. This event turned into the most amazing street party, at which guests could come with a cup and drink from the fountain.
You grew up in Slovakia, not a country yet on the cocktail map. When did you know you wanted to be a bartender?
Stay tuned! Slovakia has some serious bartenders with very strong skills, sadly most have left the country and are working all over the world. I was in hospitality school where we touched the basics then I moved to Prague to learn more about bartending. While I was there the first cocktail bar opened in Slovakia so I came back and joined the team. Then I made my way to the capital of cocktails, London.
You recently visited Hong Kong – where do you think the city is in terms of cocktail evolution and which bars stood out to you?
I have visited some very good bars, seen very talented bartenders. Hong Kong is already known in Europe as a destination. Quinary, Zuma, Origin, Wyndham the 4th, and Lily and Bloom are the places that I’ll definitely visit again.
You were named Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender of the Year 2010 and we’re seeing more cocktail competitions taking place in Asia – how important are competitions and how do they aid your creativity?
It's a perfect way to learn how to work in front of a crowd without being nervous; bartenders are like actors on the stage, the bigger the audience, the pressure grows as well. Competitions are also a great platform to exchange ideas with other bartenders.
Many of our readers are getting into aged spirits like rum and tequila – what would suggest as an entrance level concoction for readers looking to expand their palates?
The Sour is the best cocktail category to start with, with rum daiquiris or margaritas the best cocktails to start with as they are perfectly balanced drinks which satisfy any palate. What mixology trends and products are we likely to see make their way to our fair shores in the near future? The industry is getting into lot of homemade ingredients again. Also there is a coming up trend of using savory ingredients, including many herbs and vegetables.