Last Bite: Ali Dedianko

Belvedere global brand ambassador shares tips on creating a good cocktail

Ali Dedianko says it's important for bartenders to learn the basics of how flavours work together [Photo: Danny Allison/ITP Images].
Ali Dedianko says it's important for bartenders to learn the basics of how flavours work together [Photo: Danny Allison/ITP Images].

Chatting to Caterer Middle East on a recent visit to the UAE, Belvedere global brand ambassador Ali Dedianko gives advice to young bartenders and reveals what goes into creating a good cocktail

What was it about bartending that convinced you it was your career?
I started bartending while studying at New York University and never stopped. I haven’t worked behind a bar in almost four years now though, since my primary job for Belvedere Vodka is brand education.

We are seeing a call for action in this region to promote bartending as an official profession which can offer many opportunities in the wider hospitality industry. In your opinion, how can we promote it as a viable career to young people?
It’s already happening. As consumers around the world become more interested in food and drink, the chef and bartender are gaining more attention and notoriety, which in turn gives both professions more respect. The best way to keep young people interested in careers in the hospitality industry is through education and constant learning. Be sure that bars and restaurants have good training programmes in place and spend time educating young people about the history of wines and spirits. There is so much to learn, and luckily, in these modern times, we have all the information we could ever want or need right at our fingertips.

What advice can you give bartenders to improve their skills?
Do it for the love of it. And remember to learn the basics before trying to tackle advanced techniques. Very often, young, aspiring bartenders attempt to run before they can walk. In the process, they forget that a basic understanding of how flavours work together, plus a passion for the craft, is really all that’s needed to make a good bartender.

What are you looking for when judging mixologists in competitions? How can they stand out in a crowd in front of the judges?
It really depends on what the prize for the competition is. If a brand is searching for a new ambassador, then presentation and personality will be most important since this person should be engaging and well-spoken. If, of course, the competition is a search for a new signature serve, the most important thing is how the cocktail tastes. Ideally, it should be a good mix of the two: a great tasting cocktail, served by a bartender with style and charisma.

What are the ingredients for a good cocktail?
Fresh ones. And local produce is always best. Try to skip anything synthetic or artificial in favour of spirits made naturally.

Are there any current trends in mixology you are seeing across the world?
Low ABV and low sugar are two trends that I see everywhere I go these days. People are more conscious than ever about what they put inside their bodies and so there is a growing movement towards cocktails with less alcohol and less sugar. At Belvedere, we are working with a lot of vegetable juices right now, as well as exploring fructose-free sugar options, like dextrose and rice malt syrup for sweetening.

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