The publication published the annual ranking of the most influential people in the bar world, Bar World 100. And there is Dmytro Shovkoplyas, the bar manager and co-owner of the Parovoz Speak Easy bar in Kyiv. In May, the establishment was included in the short list of the best bars in Europe, according to the Tales of the Cocktail conference. In 2021, the bar received the award for the third time as the best bar of the year from the National Restaurant Award «Salt». And last year, the bar was awarded the world rating of 50 Best Discovery. This is the first Ukrainian bar that opens in the authoritative guide location Kyiv, Ukraine. In an interview with LIGA.Life, Dmytro told where and how he studied to reach such a level that he invested in development and how the bartender makes sure that guests return to his establishment. Part-time work at night in a pizzeria Dmytro did not dream of becoming a chef, but entered the faculty of food technology at the Kyiv technical school. It was not a compulsion, but a choice. Dmytro understood even then: knowing how to work in the service, he will always have a part-time job. The technical school was recommended by his friend’s mother, who once worked there. The boys went to study together. Shovkoplias recalls how in the «bar business» discipline, students learned to prepare classic cocktails such as the Old Fashioned and Negroni. «These drinks were something ‘from another world’. Classic cocktails were not popular in our country at that time. Mojitos and Cosmopolitans were drunk everywhere. I didn’t go to bars myself, I drank beer as much as possible,» says the bartender. During his student years, Dmytro began to work part-time in a small pizzeria — cooking in night shifts. Later, he moved to work as a cook in an oriental cuisine restaurant. He had no career plans: «Typical for student years: I didn’t fully understand what I wanted to do.» Friends offered to get a job as a bartender in an Italian restaurant. Dmitry had no experience. «My friends said: come up with what you have at the interview, and then we’ll show you everything,» Shovkoplyas laughs. At the interview, they were not particularly interested in experience: «I said that I had prepared some cocktails, I had some experience, but without specifics. I said that I could study the menu and the recipe of drinks,» Dmytro recalls. They took me to work. First job at a bar In that establishment, the boy first understood what it was like to work behind a bar. The counter was an island in the center of the hall, surrounded by tables. Dmytro realized there: a bar is a place with a lot of little things. Everyone takes time. Therefore, everything must be in its place so that the work moves faster. Because when many visitors are waiting for orders, and you cook for a long time, you won’t have time for anything. The bartender had breaks only for lunch or for 5 minutes. jump out into the street. He says that there is always something to wash, to wipe, to check whether everything from the assortment is enough: «Everything gets dirty quickly, you work with different sugar syrups, herbs, everything flies around, spills. Bottles get dirty, but they should shine beautifully on the shelves.» And because of the location of the bar, it was impossible to sit down: «The bartender is in a prominent place, so it would be strange if he sat in the middle of the working day. This is a bar counter — we have to move, be everywhere and see everything.» You should also greet guests entering the hall with a look and a smile, this is a signal that you have been noticed. He adds that the guest needs attention. For example, help call a taxi, suggest the next bar, remember the orders of returning guests, and say: «How are you as usual?». «Small bonuses are unexpected, so they will be remembered. It will be even better than a delicious cocktail,» says Dmytro. Dmytro worked in this restaurant for two years. And then he got a job as a senior bartender in another establishment that was being prepared for opening. He invested his earnings in development. Dmytro did not finish any «bartending courses». But he began to take an interest in professional events, read specialized literature, and attend master classes. The more I learned about the profession, the more aware I became of the desire to become a pro. «The master classes were conducted by Italians, Slovaks, Britons, and Americans. It was inspiring. Then I realized: if I like it so much, I’m in business for a long time,» says Dmytro. Foreigners showed unexpected servings of cocktails and cooking techniques, prepared the ingredients themselves: «It’s amazing when you don’t just buy syrups or liqueurs and mix them, but prepare them yourself.» Dmytro’s signature cocktail Kyiv Sour Dmytro periodically creates drinks. Some remain on the menu, some are seasonal, some are created for special events, for example, to present a bar in another country. Each created cocktail, says Shovkoplyas, has a separate mission and story. A few years ago, he participated in a bar event in Scotland, where he had the task of presenting the country and his bar with the help of a cocktail. Then Dmytro invented the «Kyiv Sauer» cocktail based on whiskey and chestnut syrup. «Scotch whiskey is cool. Ukraine does not make whiskey of this level yet — we are a young country. But even for Scotch whiskey, there is a lot of grain and even some barrels can be bought in Ukraine. Chestnut syrup is more about a symbol than a taste. The chestnut leaf is a symbol of Kyiv . Also lemon. And I made a mixture — cranberry-beet extract with bitters, which is sprinkled on the foam of the cocktail and gives a pleasant color to the drink on the surface. And beet chips,» he says. This cocktail is one of the signature ones, it is on the Parovoz Speak Easy menu. Dmytro tried to persuade employers to finance tickets and accommodation to attend master classes. But at that time in Ukraine there was no respect for the bartending profession, says Shovkoplyas. Few understood why to invest additionally in a person. The man is convinced: if the institution does not develop staff, it is necessary to find ways on your own. He says: «The advantages of the profession are that there is no ceiling above the head. There is always room to grow.» He invested in his knowledge: «I understood that I needed to earn more. First of all, for the family. And because my passion and self-development require it. 10 years ago, you wouldn’t earn much from one job at a bar.» Dmytro learned that London bartenders and bars are one of the best. Began to write to them to learn: «Some agreed to conduct a day’s course of a ‘young bar fighter’. From a dozen years ago, in one bar, a guy paid 250 pounds for full immersion in the work for one day. «That was a lot of money then and now, but I believed that it would help in development,» notes Dmytro. And it helped, he is convinced. A good bartender of a conventional hangout and a bartender of a specialized bar differ only in that people have more opportunities for development in a specialized bar. After all, the management of the bar understands why to improve , says Dmytro. For example, 10 years ago he got a job as a bartender at the Fairmont Hotel in Kyiv, right during the launch period. The team was prepared for the opening by bar experts from North America: «We were taught a certain course to prepare cocktails — from preparing syrups and slicing lemons to preparing more complex drinks.» Read also It was an intensive two-week course, we studied almost every day for eight hours. It was not easy to learn many new recipes, but the team of bartenders and the waiters were attracted by each other’s knowledge. «They sat down across from each other and asked: ‘The recipe is so-and-so, what does it consist of?'» And then it was the other way around, Dmytro recalls. Most of the coaches left after two weeks, but a bartender who worked at the Fairmont Hotel in Toronto stayed with the team for six months during the hotel’s launch period. Dmytro worked at two jobs for a long time. There were periods when he was a bartender in a hotel and at the same time in a restaurant. It was difficult with the schedule, but I learned to negotiate, to change, to work almost without days off. Then he worked as a brand ambassador for an alcohol company for almost 5 years, while continuing to work at a bar. Began to participate in the first professional competitions. Thanks to them, I learned about the bartender community of like-minded people who communicate, create cocktails and invite each other to tastings. Sometimes Dmytro came to the bar as a guest and observed: «You can see the experience that others have gained over the years after sitting in the bar for a few hours and drawing conclusions.» He believes that the experience in any bar is important, it can be a coffee shop, a disco, a bar on the beach or in a hotel. Because the more diverse workplaces on the bartender’s path, the more hardened he becomes. It is difficult to say how much money he has invested in self-development over the years, says Dmytro. Having learned in advance about bar shows or master classes, he raised the budget and prepared for the trip, saving money for the plane, tickets, and accommodation: «On such trips, there are also expenses for bars, because you taste new drinks and ingredients.» Once he took 2nd place in a cocktail competition and won a trip to a bar conference in Berlin. Vorshkops in Kyiv are often sponsored by alcohol brands, so they are free for bartenders: «This especially helps inexperienced bartenders who don’t have the money to travel.» Because in Europe, says Shovkoplyas, there can be 4-5 interesting events for bartenders a year. A day ticket for the three-day bar show in Berlin this year will cost about 40 euros: «For this money, you get access to the master classes, if you have time to sign up, because there is a limit of places.» Individual master classes or events with alcohol tasting are always more expensive. Read also From bartender to co-owner of Parovoz Parovoz was opened in 2002, closed for renovation in 2013. Parovoz has reformed into a cocktail bar of the «dry law» era, with more interesting cocktails. Dmytro first got there a few months after the second opening as a guest. He visited the bar for about half a year, and then in September 2014 he was offered a job there. After working in the hotel for several years, Dmytro moved to Parovoz and became a bartender. Then — as a bartender, in parallel with working at the bar counter. And in 2018, the management of the bar offered Dmytro to become a managing partner. He currently continues bar management with a percentage of the profits. Shovkoplyas did not invest his own funds in Parovoz Speak Easy. The funds earned by the bar will be reinvested in the project as a group of partners. Dmytro is convinced that connections in the industry are the most important for the bar’s success. Any collaborations and activities organized by the institution require this. «When you get to know other bartenders, you have friends among colleagues all over the world, you understand more about other bars and cocktail markets. And this creates a global community that stimulates the development of the bar,» explains Shovkoplyas. Read also Understanding where your institution ranks against others is also important for success. To do this, you need to travel and see what others are doing. Bar team members need to see how things are set up at other bartenders. At Parovoz Speak Easy, for example, in the fall, a part of the team traveled abroad to a bar show, attended master classes there: «Our goal was to adopt the experience.» This is an investment of the bar — tickets, accommodation, food. According to Dmytro, the bar’s inclusion in the world ranking of 50 Best Discovery is precisely the result of the development of the status of Parovoz Speak Easy in the global community over the years. «We have many friends from different countries of the world who periodically visit the bar. The organization has its own academy, which does not disclose the judges. These are votes from many members of the award. There may be professional journalists, bar owners, bartenders, cocktail bloggers who were in Kyiv. and remembered our bar. We don’t know a lot in these behind-the-scenes moments. It’s good — a more independent assessment comes out,» he says. Read also About getting into the hundred most influential One of the reasons for the recognition, Dmytro believes, is that Parovoz Speak Easy has always developed not only the bar, but also the community around it. They teach others, organize courses for bartenders. «Through the prism of the bar, we tried to show our country and culture, what we are capable of, what potential we have,» Shovkoplyas emphasizes. One of the best and most unique things in the work of a bartender, according to Dmytro, is the opportunity to receive instant feedback from a guest. «You prepare a cocktail, the guest takes a sip and…smiles. This instant feedback gives energy to create at the bar. You did someone good, the person immediately became a little happier. The magic worked,» explains Shovkoplyas. When you get such a reaction many times a day, you understand — you are in your place, Dmytro notes and adds: «In the beginning, it can be difficult to work when everyone is resting. But you get used to it. If you love the work, it will not become a routine.» Read also If you notice a spelling mistake, select it with the mouse and press Ctrl+Enter.
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