#CHOUFIMAFITOUR WITH ALEX KRATENA AND MON­ICA BERG

Hospitality News Middle East - - NEWS - Alexkratena.com, pour­drink.org

Alex Kratena, for­mer head bar­tender of Arte­sian bar, Lang­ham ho­tel in Lon­don, (his cock­tails won the 2011 ‘Bar­tender’s Os­car’ – World’s Best Cock­tail Menu at the com­pe­ti­tion held in New Or­leans, USA) and Mon­ica Berg, in­ter­na­tional celebrity bar­tender and fi­nal­ist in 2013’s World Class Com­pe­ti­tion for Di­a­geo, toured Le­banon on the #Choufimafitour ('what's up') or­ga­nized by Bac­ardi and brand am­ab­ssador Varia Del­lalian. The experts picked prod­ucts from Zahle, Fer­zol, Ke­fraya, Baal­bak, Cedars, Bchare, and Beirut and used them in unique cock­tails cre­ated as a trib­ute to the coun­try. Prod­ucts in­cluded tahini, karoub, arak, melon seed, and ayran, among oth­ers. The names of the drinks were in­spired by the Le­banese lex­ica, in­clud­ing ‘Cedars of God’, ‘Stuck in Traf­fic’, and ‘No Elec­tric­ity’.

The duo also con­ducted a sem­i­nar gath­er­ing top bar­tenders in the city at Cen­tral Sta­tion in Beirut. As­sess­ing the Le­banese bar in­dus­try, Kratena said that list­ing Cen­tral Sta­tion as num­ber 26 out of the best 50 bars in the world re­flects the in­dusty's po­si­tion on a global scale. “The cul­ture and cock­tail move­ment has grown re­mark­ably. In Zahle, which is con­sid­ered a vil­lage, we en­joyed cock­tails that were in­cred­i­ble!” Ac­cord­ing to Berg, the Le­banese palate is quite de­vel­oped. “It is very fre­quent that you visit global cock­tail cities like New York or Paris, and you do not find a palate as clean.” She ex­plained that the French palate is sweet, whereas the Nordic one is very strong. She con­tin­ued: “The Le­banese palate is very bal­anced. Even if you do not like the fla­vors, it is bal­anced and has a great com­po­si­tion. Cock­tails are one of the culi­nary dis­ci­plines. It is pretty much like cook­ing, but in­stead of pos­i­tive tem­per­a­tures, you use neg­a­tive ones.”

Kratena stressed the im­por­tance of us­ing lo­cal in­gre­di­ents and herbs when mak­ing cock­tails and the im­por­tance of sus­tain­abil­ity. “Al­tru­is­tic in­no­va­tion and shar­ing knowl­edge, re­cy­cling to re­spect the en­vi­ron­ment, and fo­cus­ing more on qual­ity are all hot top­ics in the in­dus­try nowa­days," he said. “It is very im­por­tant to cre­ate a gen­uine brand and cock­tail, a sig­na­ture style, rather than fol­low­ing trends. Act rather than re­act.”

Mon­ica Berg

Alex Kratena

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