Hello Youth, meet Experience
A brief chat with Alex Remoundos
In May, we watched as three Copenhagen-based bartenders secured their spots at the Regional Final of World Class – one of the most prestigious bartending competitions. Only one of them will head to the Global Final in Glasgow, and today we bring you the profile of this year’s Danish representant.
In the two months between the two finals, Alex Remoundos had his hands full. Besides dedicating most of his time to preparing for the biggest competition he ever participated in, he also switched bars. The ex-Ruby bartender now shakes and stirs at Tata, bar to the Sanders Hotel at Tordenskjoldsgade.
World Class is a competition that usually belongs to industry staples and bartending icons. What truly sets Alex apart is his age – at 22 years young, he is the youngest competitor Denmark has ever sent to the Finals. And in Glasgow, he will get a chance to seal his legacy. We were interested in the build-up that led to this moment; hence, we sat down with him for a quick chat.
How did bartending become such a big part of your life?
I have always been around the bar. My father had a couple of restaurants in Greece, so I took my first steps very early, aged 15. I was making coffee, interacted with guests, and from early on, I realised it makes me happy. Already back then, I fell in love with providing service and showing creativity. I saw our bartenders have success after leaving the restaurants and so from early on I knew there is possible life in bartending.
The “real gig” started in Copenhagen. I had Saturdays off, so I picked up a job behind the bar at Madam Chu’s, that was about three and a half years ago. When I realised I want to stay in Copenhagen, I moved down the street to Ruby. I was 19 years old, and Ruby was a Top 50 Cocktail Bar, so it was a big challenge. I got to work with incredibly talented people, and I learned lots.
But now you decided to change environments and moved to Tata. What was the main reason behind the change?
I’m still very young, and I have taken bartending seriously for only about three years and then some. But for most of the time, I was lucky to work in a very challenging environment. Ruby is a high-volume-high-quality cocktail bar, but that’s only one side of the coin. I wanted to try something else, and as I have never worked in a hotel, it felt like the right choice to make.
Coincidentally, with the recent staff changes, I landed in one of the best bar teams in the city. The bar is definitely going to grow in the next couple of seasons and we have a lot of fresh ideas to push forward.
What’s the main difference you see between a cocktail and a hotel bar?
Mostly it’s the way of working. It’s busy in a different way but not as fast-paced as Ruby or other bars. I put more focus on the similarities. Everything is about the guests and providing fast and excellent service. I love the fact that we have a kitchen in the house, working with chefs is fantastic. They have a vast knowledge of flavour extraction and preservation, and they are better at reducing waste, there is a lot to learn.
I can imagine myself working in a restaurant in the future. Between building conceptualised menus and re-thinking food-drink pairings, I see a significant learning potential for myself.
So for the upcoming years, you see yourself mostly behind the bar?
I’m young, so thinking beyond the bar doesn’t make much sense. I still have a long way to go, so I would like to focus on getting better, learning and seeing new things. One of the few plans I feel I can attach to is travelling. I would love to see Asia – Singapore and Hong Kong; also the Carribean, Latin countries or Mexico.
As bartenders, when we vacation is about much more than sabbatical; it’s exploration. I love going to local food markets and taste how differently produce tastes in each region. Coming from Greece, it was tricky to adapt to the different freshness of the watermelons and oregano you can get here.
Next month you will get a chance to visit Glasgow. This time though, you will compete in World Class Global Finals. How is the build-up going?
World Class is a perfect platform for pushing my limits. There are some exciting challenges I need to work on before Glasgow. And now that I have finally settled at my new bar, I can entirely focus on the finals. I’m very grateful for the help of all my colleagues, both at Ruby and Tata. It is much easier to create something exceptional with the reflections my knowledgeable colleagues always provide. I also followed Michael’s (note: Hajiyanni, last year’s Danish winner) journey the previous year so I know what to expect.
What were the biggest takeaways and challenges from the Regional Final in Rotterdam?
Being on the trip with Tina and Martin was genuinely inspiring. We talked a lot before and during the competition and continuously exchanged our knowledge. I already see it influencing my future creativity.
The most significant part of the final was called “Bee Conscious Challenge”. Our goal was to create a cocktail that utilises honey in three different ways, based on vodka. I presented a refreshing highball based on vodka and a mix of dry sherries infused with sea buckthorn. For the honey parts, I used whey of cow milk with caramelised honey infused with Tonka bean, tincture of honey with toasted fennel seeds and naturally carbonated homemade mead. I also used a propolis-infused blended Scotch whiskey as a spray on the top. All the honey I used was from Bybi as I wanted to utilise local products.
To round things off, what’s your favourite drink right now?
It usually depends on why I’m going out. I love boozy drinks just as much as refreshing ones, and generally, I tend to drink low-ABV cocktails. But my staple has always been a Paloma. It’s a great year-round drink, super refreshing and for a lot of people, who might be afraid of tequila, this one is a great start. I like to do mine with a bit of fresh grapefruit juice and a bit of agave to give it a little kick.
60 ml Tequila
10 ml Fresh grapefruit juice
10 ml Fresh lime juice
5 ml Agave syrup
Build in a highball glass and top with grapefruit soda. Gently stir and garnish with a grapefruit wedge.
Alex’s journey in Scotland was a big success. He impressed the judges in the first round of challenges and qualified for the Final 8. Unfortunately, he wasn’t crowned as a winner, but he managed to represent our cocktail scene with more than just grace. We are looking forward to following his next steps, as he returns to his daily schedule. Come see him yourself at TATA.