Mixologist of the Month - Ciprian Zsraga
- Name: Ciprian Zsraga
- AKA: Ciprian “Ronaldo”
- Date of Birth: 27th October
- Birth place: Romania
- Eye colour: Blue
- Nationality: Italian-Romanian
"Bartending is like the Mafia. Once you get in you never get out. It is in a good way!!!
I love bartending, I love my collegues, they are my second family, I love my guests and I love my cocktails. The bar industry is such a fantastic world. It's really simple: it's all about hospitality and then comes the rest.
Like most of us, I started as a barback. This was a very important step because it helped me find out how a bar works. To be a great manager you have to be a great bartender and to be a great bartender you have to be a great… you get the point!
I attended the Hotel and Hospitality School in Salerno (south of Italy) and moved to Rome where I worked as a pastry chef. I moved to London more than 2 years ago and I had to learn quickly because the speed of bars and life is quite fast."
List of awards
Absenteroux London winner.
Global final Marie Brizard - Bordeaux 2016.
Marie Brizard-UK Winner 2016.
Calvin Cup 2016 Finalist UK.
AIBES National Rome 2016, National 2015.
Calvados- Best Technical Bartender-2016.
De Kuyper London 2015.
Sipsmith Gin 2015.
Finalist Enogastronomical National Competition Paestum-2012 Italy.
Paestum 96 Gastronomic Competition 2010.
AMIRA Regional Competition Milano 2010.
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
Beer based cocktails have evolved a lot and there are some great absolutely great cocktails out there!!! If you know how to use them you will have great results. Or simply taste their complexity buy having a pint. Guinness is one of my favourite!!!
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
The bar industry is a wonderful world. It is all about hospitality. I always treat my guest as my best friends.
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
The most important part is that you have to involve everyone and make sure that they are happy. You have to consider the cost, stock, speed of execution, type of venue, clientele, time of the year, just to mention few.
How did you get started?
It was 2 years ago in 2015, while I was working in Rome as a pastry chef. One of my guests always spoke about London, its beauty and about the flavours and taste of the cakes. He told me to move to London and to apply the pastry concept to cocktails “It is all about matching the flavours”. I didn’t know anything about the bar industry and cocktails however I deceided to leave Italy and move to London. I found the guest as he had left his business card: Peter Dorelli at The American Bar, Savoy. The rest is history.
How were you trained in bartending?
Reading helped me a lot. Travelling is also a very important piece of the cocktail puzzle. A lot of practice and self discipline. The internet is very useful!!!
Did you take any courses?
Working in London as a bartender is great. There is at least one masterclass every week and they are usually free to attend. I attended the WSET here in London and the AIBES course in Rome-Italy.
What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
If it can be consider a trend, then I am going to say competitons. There are a lot of competitions which help both brands and the bartenders.
What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
Having a good knowledge of the classic cocktails and spirits is essential. I always pair a story with the drink.
What is your favourite cocktail To make?
I love making drinks. Each cocktail has something unique. My favourite cocktail is a dry gin martini with a twist: simple to make and great to enjoy.
What are some of your favourite tools?
A book and a bottle.
What is your favourite mixology resource?
I spend a lot of time in the bookshops. Travelling and frequenting bars is essential to develop as a bartender.
What does success mean for you?
When the guests come back and especially when they bring other people because they enjoyed their time with my colleagues and myself - that is all I want.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
What I'm doing now: Shaking and sharing.
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
What I was doing in Rome, cakes and cookies.
Your biggest career influencer?
Each person I speak with is a mentor. Nico Mondella and Lele Satulli are the best people I have ever worked with. My family, my girlfriend and her family have a great impact on me. Obviously working with the legendary Salvatore Calabrese is more than a dream.
First drink you ever tried?
Mojito when I was at the school. When I moved to London it was the Millenium Cocktail at The American Bar Savoy.
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
Tequila and wine doesn’t work well together.
Your hangover cure?
Not to drink too much the night before.
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
More than a half to charity, the people that they really need help. A part to my family and the other part for myself. It's my dream to publish a book.
Bar or cellar at home?
The idea of having a bar at home is gorgeous.
Depends on the situation. Red, white, sparkling, sweet, fortified etc. I love all of them.
Each spirit has something magical so for this reason I enjoy all of them.
Dry gin martini with lemon twist.
Hard to say but I am going to say that it's the bar I am going tonight with my friends.
If paradise has a name, it is Osteria Demetra in Salerno, the South of Italy.
I am a big fan of the James Bond films.
I have been writing a book for over 2 years now. It's almost ready and I hope it will be released soon. It's about the bar world and is absolutely my favourite book.
I love any kind of music. From classic to rock, from Elvis Presley to Eros Ramazzotti. Right now I am listening some instrumental, soft-jazz sax music.