Mixologist of the Month - Lech Wojtasiewicz
- Date of Birth: 15th April
- Birth place: Northern Ireland
- Height: 170cm
- Eye colour: Blue
- Nationality: British
"I started off bartending as a hobby while I was studying abroad. When I moved back to Edinburgh I started working in Juniper part time until I finished my degree. I wanted to pursue the drinks industry further so became a full-time member. Since then, I have been learning and developing while running Juniper with my colleague Lulu.
More recently, I have been working on opening a new bar within the same company called The Lycan. Due to open this December, it's a speakeasy style bar focusing on the guest's experience while producing high quality cocktails that all tell a story. It will be sad leaving Juniper but I can't wait to manage The Lycan. There might even be the possibility of a working still on the back bar so I'll have the opportunity to learn to distil."
Lech's Signature Cocktails
Awards, Accolades and Trophies
Nobody likes a big-head.
Nobody likes a big-head.
Claim to Fame
Meeting Dan Aykroyd in Sydney and having him talk extensively about his vodka when all I really wanted to talk about was Ghostbusters.
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
You should not get used to one type of beer, be open to new tastes and experiences.
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Be humble and true to yourself and honest with the customer.
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
Pretentious people; trying to overcompensate for their lack of knowledge, (substance over essence)
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
There are many factors one needs to consider when creating a drink menu: type of bar and of the potential customers, the image the bar that the owner wants to convey by the menu, just to name a few. I use my experience to choose ingredients that would make the menu unique and fit the profile of a particular bar. It’s important to keep the menu updated with the latest trends but still try to keep it simple and make sure you include the classics; and keep the authentic (If you drink Manhattan in the UK, it should taste exactly like the one you would drink in a New York bar).
How did you get started?
I attended a catering school when I was 15, when I graduated I started working as a waiter, I became master waiter and got promoted to bar work.
How were you trained in bartending?
I worked as an apprentice in a group of senior bartenders, I showed some promise and got sent to bartending courses.
Did you take any courses?
Organisation and Techniques of Bartending, Polish Bartenders Association, 1993, Warsaw.
What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
The market is more open to experimentation; the rules are there to be broken.
What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
The customers are my inspiration. If I create any drink it is always based on the feedback I get from the customer, I talk to them and try to fulfil their expectations, while planning ahead and considering new trends.
What is your favourite cocktail to make?
Mojito, Simple and refreshing, I like smell of the fresh mint.
What are some of your favourite tools?
Cloths... a clean bar is important.
What is your favourite mixology resource?
Zdzislaw T, Nowicki "Cocktails" - timeless Polish classic, better than lord of the rings.
What does success mean for you?
Ability to contribute and add value to the field you are passionate about.
What are some current trends you've seen in the cocktail market?
Organic... wine, spirits, especially selected local ingredients etc.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
On my own Yacht on a sunny day with a glass of a good red wine.
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
I would be playing sports professionally, mostly likely table tennis, or the army.
Your biggest career influencer?
My primary school friend who talked me into going to a catering school with him.
First drink you ever tried?
My friend's grandma's home-made fruit wine.
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
Polish cheap wine, 50p and full of nutritious chemicals.
Your hangover cure?
Chicken soup with a lot of herbs and black pepper... and of course Bloody Mary.
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
I would buy a winery in southern Poland and produce first actually good Polish wine.
Bar or cellar at home?
Zlaty Bazant - Slovak Pilsner.
Bohemia, Jersey, UK.
Bohemia Restaurant, Jersey, UK.
Fuerteventura Canary Islands, Spain.
Solaris by Stanislaw Lem
Don't have one.