Ten Tough Questions for Vitaly Alekseyev

Words by Ingmar Voerman / Vitaly Alekseyev

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We’re asking ten tough questions to Vitaly Alekseyev, one of the main Russian bartenders in Amsterdam. He’s a true pineapple enthusiast who dislikes ‘mixologists’ who can talk about nothing else than, well, ‘mixology’ after work hours. Whenever he visits your bar, please prepare him a proper Bellini. With a green Chartreuse and coffee float ;-)

The Facts:
Name: Vitaly Alekseyev
Date of birth: May 17, 1991
From: Latvia (Former USSR)
Profession: Head bartender at The Duchess Amsterdam
Living in: Amsterdam

The Questions:

What are your favourite moments working behind the bar?

"I always see the beauty in small, sincere gestures from the guests who
appreciate your effort. A few examples would be - a regular bringing me a
nice vintage of my favourite wine for Christmas as a gift. A girl, living on
top of the bar we opened, would bring me food she cooked cause she knew how busy it was. Something as simple as a guest ordering me a taxi cause I
missed my night bus. It shows that there are people who care. That always
brought a smile to my face."

On the down side: What are your worst moments?

"Working very hard for a company for a long time and not getting any
recognition from the owner due to personal reasons. However that was a
great wake up call for me, that pushed me to move, become better and prove them wrong."

Who are the gurus you look up to the most in our industry?

"There are a few names but since this is a Russian edition let me
introduce you to a few Russian gurus who I had a pleasure of working with
the last few years.

Roman Toroschin - The Drinks development director for Monin Russia and also the owner of his own bartending school. He is one of the veterans of the
bartending industry in Russia who keeps fascinating me with his team
building skills and overall sense of hospitality.

Artem Peruk - The man who is responsible for showing the world that the
Bar scene in Russia is worth looking in to. He’s running world famous
El Copitas Bar in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Artem is in charge of numerous projects which inspire new upcoming bartenders and move them in the right direction. He truly showing that bartending does not have borders."

What’s your definite ‘must read; when it comes to bartending books?

"Gastrophysics The New Science of Eating By: Charles Spence. It is not
because of my kitchen background... It´s because it lets you understand the
science behind taste and how it is influenced by different factors."

What’s the cocktail you’re most proud of? Why does this cocktail define you as a bartender?

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"Definitely the Big Fish cocktail. My entry for Bacardi Legacy 2017
which opened a lot of doors for me after reaching the global finals.
Besides being proper tasty it pushed my beliefs about the importance of
storytelling in our industry."

50ml Bacardi 8
20ml Earl Grey syrup
10ml Tio Pepe
2,5ml Sherry vinegar
Method: stirred
Glass: rocks
Garnish: A good story!

What’s the main challenge facing the Dutch bar scene at the moment?

"The biggest challenge I see right now is called laziness. Bartenders get spoiled by the ridiculous amounts of free trips, merchandise, free stock etc. Most of the times they are forgetting their main purpose - making sure the guest leaves happier than when he came in!

There is more effort put into satisfying brands than the guests itself. The
problem is that sometimes the bartenders get back more than what they´ve
put in, resulting in an overall lack of effort from their side. Damn, I
sound like a grandpa..."

What’s your ultimate guilty pleasure drink?

"Loud and proud - BELLINI!!!"

What would be your advise for starting bartenders just entering this industry?

"Don´t mix green Chartreuse and coffee!"

How can a bartender piss you off when visiting your bar?

"I truly dislike people who try to be ¨Mixologists¨ outside working
hours. Please let me know about your other hobbies as well and no I don't
want to know your specs bro!"

If you want to be remembered by any quote, which one would it be?

"Pineapple does go on pizza!"

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