Hospitality: Stirred, not shaken - bartender mastery

Anna Strokan adjusts the bottles one last time - then it's time.

Hospitality: Stirred, not shaken - bartender mastery

Anna Strokan adjusts the bottles one last time - then it's time. Under the expert gaze of a four-person jury and with the November Baltic Sea behind her, she fills two large glasses with ice. The final round of this year's German Cocktail Championships of the German Bartender Union (DBU) has opened.

Anyone who thinks of tricks and acrobatics in such a competition will be taught otherwise on Tuesday in the luxury hotel in Heiligendamm. "It just keeps it up, doesn't make the drink any better," explains Robin Lühert, who, like Strokan, is one of the eight finalists. Juggling is unusual in the high-end cocktail scene, and there's no time for it on a Saturday or Friday evening.

Instead, the focus is on the drink and the concept behind it. 80 applicants had submitted prescriptions. They were looking for a spectacular cocktail creation that was easy to mix. Strokan presented the "Manhattan in Law" - a modification of the cocktail classic "Manhattan".

Rum instead of Whiskey

She had a convinced "Manhatten drinker" as a guest, explains the 26-year-old bartender at a hotel bar in Schleswig-Holstein, where the reigning German champion also works. The guest wanted to drink something with rum, so she substituted the whiskey. She talks expertly about the origin, distillation and cask storage of the rum or the type of beans of the espresso liqueur used.

"You have to be familiar with your spirits," says DBU spokesman Mohammad Nazzal. But there is more to a good bartender. You have to keep an eye on the guest and create a good atmosphere. In the end, the overall experience has to be right. Thomas Altenberger, head of the bar at the Grand Hotel Heiligendamm and this year's member of the jury, explains it in a similar way. You've done your job properly when the guest wants to come back "without actually knowing why".

The bartenders have to prepare the cocktails in front of the jury and explain the concept behind the respective recipe. Of course there is also a cost. The winner should be announced in the evening. The prize is an educational trip. According to the DBU, this is the only Germany-wide competition of this kind. It is taking place for the 36th time after a two-year Corona break. According to its own statements, the professional association is over 100 years old and has more than 1000 members.

Tough guys and soft variants

Also for the finalist Lühert - bartender since 2019 - it is dealing with the guests that makes the job. He just likes being a host. And what about the famous order from film secret agent James Bond, who expressly drank his vodka martini shaken, not stirred? Bond apparently prefers a rather shallow version, says Lühert. Shaking dilutes more than stirring.

Strokan also stirred her "Manhattan in Law" and didn't shake it. She was visibly excited while preparing it and forgot to try the drink at the end. Nevertheless, she is satisfied with her performance. In the end, the Olympic motto applies: "Being there is everything". She finds the bartender community particularly friendly and helpful and enjoys meeting other colleagues.

And what is Strokan's favorite drink himself? "It depends on what mood you're in." Today a "Manhattan" and tomorrow maybe a "Piña Colada". Normally, as a professional bartender, you shouldn't admit that you're drinking a rather undemanding cocktail. But when it comes to "Piña Colada", then she drinks it with freshly pureed pineapple, good rum and no cream. "How it should be."

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