Lidija By 

The (sweet) story of coctails


There are this few moments in life…

When you somehow wonder in certain peoples lives…
You take a deep breath, open your eyes and ears and there you are. In a fairytale. Hooked.
And it’s so entertaining. You may laugh louder. Or that special sparkle appears in your eyes and the smile on your lips.
You’re sitting at the bar, starring almost fanatically at the young man putting a show on the other side of that bar, intentionally unaware of your presence. Looks like a magician performing a trick of some kind.
Like a showman.

He’s obviously trained and confident in his performance, as you can see that for yourself when he juggles those small tin cans or when he’s pouring the liquid (yellow, blue or even purple) in and out of all the possible bottles in the world. Rum, vodka, whiskey, liqueur, sodas… whatever, he pours it from left to right, up to down. He never misses. Then he takes the glasses, starts doing all sorts of tricks with’em, spins a few spoons and forks around his head or wherever. After that part of the show, he sprays a bit of air in it (as I learned afterwards so the drink is perfect and not bubbly), throws some ice cubes in (probs from that giant ice block that met Titanic), and then, in a circular motion, (don’t ask me to show it to you, I wouldn’t be able to do it in a million years) like he’s playing some complicated instrument, he shakes the tin bottles which contain different ingredients in a perfect, imaginary orbit. That part connects, chills and vents the ingredients until they are drizzled like a young, blushed combination of awesomeness. He manages to separate the tin bottles in a way that only a real man can do it… Sexy. He uses the Steiner to filter the mixture in a serving glass, (which in case of serving gin and tonic is long and thin, without the straw unless you are that kind of princess) and in the end he sprays some magic powder on the edge of the glass and the surface of the drink, just for the sake of the show I guess.
I can feel it in my nose that makes me wanting more. It’s stunning.
In a blink of an eye, the perfect and magic drink appears in front of me.
„For you“ – he adds.

To be a professional coctail master is not easy, but to make a coctail on your own is.
To put it simply, bullshit. I’ve read that on some article online. The real version, the truth is that it really is a skill to be a professional coctail master, and it really is NOT easy to make A PERFECT coctail by yourself. I mean I can come up with some ingredients, put it in the cup, mix it all together and that will probably taste yuck. Not even close to a proper coctail.
This of course does not diminish the fact that I’m an honorary Coctail master, the award I received after participating in the project called Blogger Coctail Awards, organised and hosted by Ana Horvat and Vedran Gulin. Vedran and Ana came up with the idea of Blogger Coctail Awards as a project of promoting the culture of creating and drinking the craft coctails made here in Zagreb. And that was probably the biggest reason for me to enter this amazing project with a great feeling of happiness and joy.

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Our assignment wasn’t easy at all. Metaphoricly speaking ofc.
For starters, Ana and Vedran tried to taught us some basics when it came to drinking, balancing tastes, proper coctail making and coctail serving, with a workshop they called Howtococtail. And after that, the main thing for all of us was to have lots of fun, meet one another and last but not least, to make our first coctails. What was „the easier and much more fun“ part of the whole story.

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Radionica (1 of 1)

After that, the secret mission started – going around and grading, (from the guest perspective) certain local pubs, proper coctail making, the welcome commits, communication between bartenders, the pub atmosphere and everything that would occur from the start to the end of our visit. But also, all the taste of coctails and gin and tonics we had to drink (poor us), with a special attention to smell, colour, flavour and the entire visual effects. And in the end we handed out grades to each pub in these categories: best service, best coctail, best gin and tonic and best pub.

We should’ve gone on our adventures in pairs (one lifestyle blogger and one gastro blogger), but somehow I was caught up in a threesome with Petra Mamić (@skitnica) and Mile Butorac (@hungry_mile). Our destinations were: Aperitivo (me), Dežman mini bar (Mile), Swanky Mint (Petra). Three more „pubs“ were in consideration: Dubravkin out, Esplanada and Noel.

As I’ve said earlier, this second part of our assignment wasn’t easy at all, so yeah… Oh god even I can tell I’m not being truthful. It really wasn’t easy finding a place at the bar where you can talk to the bartender on a regular basis, and grade his coctail making skills, flavours and tastes of coctails while you were under the influence of a few of his masterpieces in a form of coctails. (at least I thought it was hard).

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But we’re not here to make excuses, what has to be done, has to be done! Mission completed! ☺

This mysterious project, that started in Botanic bar, ended up in a shed where we announced the winners:

Best Gin&Tonic 

Esplanade 1925 Lounge&Coctail Bar

Best Coctails 

Noel

Best service 

Aperitivo Bar

Best pub

Dubravkin Put Restaurant and Wine Bar

… although, in the end, it seems like we’re all winners. Cause there are some projects, some people that gets under your skin. While you’re working on them and with them, you realize you’ve fell in love with the entire project… the fun, the time spent together, the geniuses that stand behind their amazing work on the other side of that bar. It is only accidental that this project is about coctails, alcohol and grading. It’s about the people who managed to transfer a bit of their magical world onto me, they let me in. All those amazing people, Ana, Vedran and all the coctail masters and lady masters. Thank you, guys.
Let me wrap it up with this… everybody listen!
While I was grading, my leading tought came from an Italian coctail making and bartending legend Salvatore Calabres who said:

„ A great coctail needs to have the same effect on you as a beautiful woman does on her man, seductive on the eyes, exciting on the smell and heavenly on the taste!

Guys, he’s Italian… I think the legend knows what he’s talking about!

Text: Lidija Šeatović for MLZ

Photos: Andrea Cukrov (fotke na radionici),  CWZG, me