Alex Kratena is the founder of P(OUR) and former Head Bartender of Artesian at The Langham Hotel in London, where Alex led the bar and his team to win multiple UK and international awards. Alex now travels the globe developing new products, cocktails and marketing strategies, presenting at various cocktail conventions and training bartenders around the world. Drinks World caught up with Alex when he recently visited Australia – his first time to our shores, as part of the De Kuyper works program.
Drinks World: This year was the first P(OUR) symposium you held, how was it received within the industry and what did you take away from it?
Alex Kratena: I’m very happy that we managed to execute the first symposium, as the first is always the most difficult one and the one you’ll be judged on. The reaction from the industry I think was fantastic and I think people understand much more of the concept of it and what we’re actually aiming to do. In the beginning people actually thought P(OUR) was my new bar – don’t ask me why!
It was very challenging to organise, but overall we achieved what we wanted to achieve. We have learned what things we want to improve on in the future and now we are planning for some smaller events.
DW: What was the inspiration behind the inaugural P(OUR) theme “Modern Bartender”?
AK: Of course, there are a million different perspectives when you say “Modern Bartender” as there are so many different ways you can look it.
The reason why we picked this theme was because we felt that in order to move forward, we first of all need to reflect on where we are at the moment. What things should we keep? What things need to be changed?
We had a lot of different topics, and a lot of the speakers were not necessarily connected directly with alcohol and cocktails, but this was on purpose, in order to help learn and move forward.
Sustainability is a huge buzzword in the industry, so we had Douglas McMaster talking about sustainability and zero waste practices in his restaurant, Silo in Brighton, UK. Since then there’s already been a bunch of people changing the way they do things, getting new machinery to help with sustainability and making more sustainable places. Another speaker we had was Tracy Ging, who is very big in the coffee world and was very inspirational for a lot of people. And we also had Martin Kastner, a designer from the US who is known for his work with Alinea and Aviary, talking about the work he is doing.
DW: What do you hope to showcase and impart with The Works creative workshops?
AK: With the De Kuyper program I wanted to talk about my approach to drinks and my point of view on hospitality, although I think everything about drinks and hospitality has pretty much been said already.
For me it’s about sharing my point of view on what I think makes a great bar, what great hospitality looks like and how I work with flavours, but I am also here to learn. It’s a platform to share information, and fortunately for me, it’s also a great way to see Australia as well.
DW: Is this your first time in Australia? Have you managed to check out some bars and venues? What’s your impression of the Australian bar scene?
AK: Yes, it’s my first time here. I have a list of bars and places I want to check out. I’m going to miss two or three places in Sydney, but I have already managed to see a lot! I have a bunch of places in Melbourne to see as well, and a couple of restaurants.
I’ve been following the Australian bar scene for a very long time online and through social media, so I was very excited to see some of the places here. It’s really refreshing for me to see things done a little differently. I see a lot of people using all native ingredients, that’s very intriguing to me.
What fascinates me about Australian bartenders in general is that I know a lot of them because they travel and pass through places like New York and London. I think you guys (Australians) go all around the world and drink the best alcohol at the best bars from the best bartenders then come back and create your own style.