Mixologist of the Month - Julija Bernatovica
- Date of Birth: 21st April
- Birth place: Riga, Latvia
- Height: 5'1"
- Eye colour: Green
- Nationality: Latvian
"Over the past 2 years, Julija has quickly established herself as one of the rising stars of the Scottish Bartender Scene. With numerous successes in cocktail competitions both Scotland and UK-wide she has moved her way into bar management roles in The Kelvingrove Cafe and now The Finnieston Bar & Restaurant.
Julija is now working closely with The Finnieston bar team to develop a new, contemporary cocktail offer that is set to push boundaries in Scotland and aspires to bigger and better things, most recently having reached the Semi-Final of Diageo World Class. 2016 is set to be a big year for Julija as she looks to expand her knowledge and develop exciting new cocktails working with top brands from across the globe.
Awards, Accolades and Trophies
Moskowskaya Vodka Cocktail Competition UK Champion 2015 OVD Rum Cocktail Competition Scottish Champion The Poshmakers’ Cocktail Competition Runner Up Mount Gay Cocktail Competition 3rd Place Buffalo Trace Regional Heat Winner, National Final Runner Up Fernet Branca Scottish Cocktail Competition Runner Up Diageo World Class Semi Finalist Riga Balszams World Finalist
Claim to Fame
I served Grey Worm from Game of Thrones drinks all day once!
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you? Personally I think beer is just the perfect drink for holidays and sun. You can never be sick of beer and it’s the quintessential international drink. You can go to pretty much any bar in the world and you’ll find a decent beer! I think WEST Brewery are coming out with some excellent beers just now, and are even brewing one specially for us!
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be? Find a mentor and keep learning from them. Don’t be afraid to take a step down in terms of pay or responsibility if it means you get to learn from the very best. Make yourself a spunge and learn, learn, learn!
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share? When bartenders handle too much ice!! Also when bartenders hold wine glasses by the glass and not the stem. But my worst pet peev is when bartenders try to dictate to guests how or what they should be drinking. Give the guest what they want, and try to make it the best one they’ve ever had!
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process. Conceptualising a drinks list is worthless without the input of your team. It has to be a collaborative process. Bouncing ideas around, trying things out and making the development of a list all about the team is always a much more creative process.
How did you get started? I fell into it working as a waitress and was asked if I would like to try working on the bar. I fell in love with it very quickly and I think my Russian attention to detail and high standards helped no-end!
How were you trained in bartending? I was fortunate to start on the bar in The Finnieston when Ervin Trykowski, Dean Evans and James Kemp were running the bar. I think I was lucky with this as pretty much every shift I did I learned something new from one of those guys. Learning on the job is probably the best way, especially if you have mentors like those guys! Then when I went to the Kelvingrove Café I learned new skills and techniques, especially on batched cocktails from Danny Whelan.
Did you take any courses? Nope, all on-the job training
What are some trends you're seeing in the market? Sustainability in your offer. Being able to re-use ingredients you might otherwise throw out through preservation techniques is definitely a current trend with the likes of White Lyan leading the way. Also, house made cocktail on tap are definitely gonna be big!
What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place? Controversially, I always think about how it will look first! We all drink with our eyes before anything else, and then I do my best to achieve the conception with amazing flavour combinations.
What is your favourite cocktail To make? Martinis! There’s so much ritual and technique required to make a really good martini. Controlling dilution whilst making it as cold as possible is a real art.
What are some of your favourite tools? I love ice saws.
What is your favourite mixology resource? A nice barspoon. You can make cocktails with almost anything, but a good barspoon is hard to replicate!
What does success mean for you? Keeping people happy!
Where do you see yourself in five years? I’m currently a few months into setting up my own Social Media Management Agency designed specifically for bars and restaurants. I hope to be in full flow with that in 5 years!
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now? I’d definitely be using my degree in photography, either freelance or under contract.
Your biggest career influencer? My mum! She’s always encouraged me to do what makes me happy.
First drink you ever tried? Riga Balszam!
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid? I love champagne, but bubbles always make me a bit too hyper!
Your hangover cure? Chinese Dumplings and maybe a Daiquiri.
£10m comes to you. What do you do next? Give half to my family and then open my dream bar!
Bar or cellar at home? Bar.
Favourite beer? Williams Brothers.
Wine? Cabernet Sauvignon.
Fav Bar? Dead Rabbit.
Restaurant? Porter & Rye - best steak in the world!
World location? New York!
Fav film? James Bond!
Book? Whinnie The Pooh.
Album? Off The Wall.
Singer/band?** Michael Jackson.