“Bartending is a hard job, and most have it in mind as a heavy job. You need to be tough,” says Andriani Vladimirou, Cyprian bartender and the 2018 international champion of Lady Amarena.
A native of Larnaca, a city on the south coast of Cyprus, Vladimirou, like so many others, stepped into bartending to fund her university studies. She believes that although female empowerment prevails in the drinks industry, there is much more to be done. “In many countries, it is still hard for a woman to be in this profession,” she notes.
Fabbri’s Lady Amarena gave Vladimirou an opportunity to compete in a cocktail competition exclusively for female bartenders. And in 2018, she beat 18 finalists from around the world at the international finals in Rimini, Italy and was crowned the 2018 Lady Amarena.
Since the victory, Vladimirou recognises her new found spirit. “I am a lot more confident as a professional,” she says. “The feelings of gratitude and humbleness are always present, and I always try to keep it that way throughout my life and career.”
Vladimirou was the fourth female bartender to win the competition since its launch in 2015. She recalls it was her friend and fellow bartender, Marios Zeniou, who encouraged her to enter. “When I first started bartending,” she explains, “he saw something in me and pushed me and taught me how to make cocktails and how to think of bartending in a more professional manner.”
Based in Limassol, Vladimirou now holds a degree in hospitality and has tended bar at the Four Seasons Hotel since 2016. Lady Amarena was her first international victory, and coincidentally, her first time competing internationally.
For Vladimirou, it was Fabbri’s ethos, which places their employees at the centre of the business, values shared by the Four Seasons Hotel, which caught her eye. They’re ideals Vladimirou advocates, alongside “collaboration, team spirit and helping each other succeed”.
Vladimirou’s winning cocktail, the Rumarena, is a rendition of the classic Negroni using Marendry Amarena Fabbri, Plantation Pineapple Rum and Barolo Chinato. Besides her admiration for Italian history, it was the Italian culture, steeped in family, the arts and food, which inspired her drink.
While Vladimirou’s inspiration came from far afield, she discovered support closer to home. “I asked colleagues from the pastry and kitchen department and we made a special garnish for my cocktail,” she explains. “Without their help I wouldn’t have managed to create what I had in mind.”
And it is Vladimirou’s appreciation of collaboration which shines through. “Never be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help,” she says. “Don’t try and do things on your own. You gain so much knowledge from other people, but of course, at the end of the day do what your heart tells you to do.”
Vladimirou’s passion for bartending is evident. “This competition reminded me of the importance of the personality of a bartender,” she says. “How magical it is to be yourself and how creative you can be if you allow yourself to be you. Bartending gives you this opportunity.”
What’s her advice for aspiring Lady Amarenas? “Be your one and only true self and don’t be scared about it. Think out of the box and most of all enjoy every second of it,” she says. “Always be open to listen and learn. The right people will never judge your ideas so be yourself anyway.”
“The competition was an unforgettable and unique experience,” Vladimirou adds. “Especially because it’s the only competition only for women bartenders.” Besides the title of Lady Amarena, her goal was to create “something unique that represents a part of me and the people that helped me.”
Following her win, Vladimirou now hopes to finish her master’s degree in business administration. Yet, her plans are far from remote. “I would like to travel more,” she says. “Then teach as much as I can to younger generations.” No doubt advocating female empowerment as she goes.