Even in ancient times, mixing and seasoning drinks with various herbal extracts was very popular. Beverages were prepared according to secret recipes under magical circumstances and emblazoned by with superstitions – drinks of love or happiness.
The origins of mixed drinks as we know them today are in America, where cockfights were fashionable in the last century. Owners of the winning roosters often invited the whole community to drink to their success. One of the stories says that the innkeeper’s daughter was so skilful she poured into each celebrator’s glass a drink of the same colour as the tail-feather colours of the victorious rooster. The drink was named as “Cocktail”, combining the English words Cock and Tail.
Thanks to a very talented and successful bartender Tomáš Gyén, we will present you current trends in the world of mixed drinks and tell you how unique mixed drinks Devín Signatures were created. Tomáš is a Slovak bartender of the year 2018, World Champion, multiple Slovak Champion and also a lecturer of the Slovak bartending association. He puts a piece of his heart into his work and, as he says, he always approaches work with joy and humility.
Tomáš, what are today’s trends in mixed drinks?
Trends vary depending on the country, market, region and customer habits. When I look at trends in beverages globally, it is a return to classic drinks and their twists, such as old fashioned, Negroni, Americano, Gimlet and others. Low-alcoholic beverages, beer drinks, liqueur-based drinks, vermouths and wines are very popular, without the use of spirits. The basis for an excellent mixed drink is the use of true and quality ingredients. In addition to local ingredients, unconventional ingredients such as seaweed, beetroot and kombucha are also used in the recipes.
What did you think of the moment you were offered to create mixed drinks for Hotel Devín?
I was excited and fascinated by the story of one of the oldest cafés in Bratislava and by the effort to breathe life into the beautiful Café Devín. Right at the meeting, I started thinking about the concept of beverage lists, stories and appropriate drinks. At the same time, I was very honoured by this offer and looked forward to the challenge.
What inspired you when creating the names of mixed drinks Devín Signatures?
There were more elements, such as the history of Hotel Devín****, Bratislava as a city, Danube River, Devín Castle and the confluence of rivers, historical stories that took place in this region and last but not least our beautiful Homeland – there I drew inspiration and stories from.
Are the names of these drinks linked to their content? Did you build on modern trends or draw from history?
In many cases, the names of drinks are linked to their content. For example, I linked the composition of the drink Limes Romanus to its meaning, which indicates the border of a smaller area or a fortification or a wall. The national drink Borovička DOMOVINA (HOMELAND) represents a juniper bush, an ice cube indicates a fortress and line boundaries, and salty bitters represent a flow of the river Danube.
Do you have your favourite among these drinks?
I definitely have a lot of favourites among these drinks. Since my favourite spirit is gin and borovička, it is definitely Detvan, one of the simple pleasant drinks, or Sherry Negroni from classic twist drinks.
Would you tell us more about Gin Tonics or coffee drinks that are part of our beverages?
When creating Gin Tonics, as the basis I used a premium category of gins such as Mom, London No1 and its limited edition London No1 Sherry Cask. There are always combinations that highlight individual characteristic components of gins. They are accompanied by ingredients, such as citrus, peel, herbs or spices. They are always supplemented with suitable tonic water or naturally infused tonic water. An interesting combination is, for example, pink grapefruit and bergamot. I tried to combine the different variations to suit the current taste preferences and give a choice to ladies and gentlemen.
Coffee drinks are becoming increasingly popular in cafes, bars, restaurants and brew bars. Drinks were arranged in such a way that their basic variations, such as coffee soda, espresso lemonades, coffee gin tonics, are presented, as well as their twists with a Slovak national spirit Borovička. Our beverages menu also includes trendy combinations, such as Spritz-strik with cold brew coffee, coffee mojito carbonated in a carbonating container to sour, where espresso is combined with whiskey. Another very interesting combination is cascara – so-called coffee tea, which was infused in tonic water with special chilli liqueur, Spanish brandy Lepanto, lemon juice and soda water.
What can our guests look forward to at Hotel Devín**** in the future? Are you preparing anything?
As part of Hotel Devín****, I always try to be helpful in the trainings or education of our staff. As in the previous season, we will also be planning various types of pop up events this year, where we will mix special and signature drinks of Hotel Devín****.
Tomáš, what are your ambitions for the future, what are your dreams or plans?
I definitely want to learn more, read a lot of new books about gastronomy, beverage culture, and individual bar ingredients. I am also planning to visit as many training events, workshops or bars as possible, which are an inspiration in the world. My goal is to actively participate in the Slovak Bartenders Association, pass on my knowledge to students of secondary vocational schools and hotel academies, educate people in the gastro sector and certainly still participate in world competitions, not only as a juror, but also as a competitor and be able to represent Slovakia in an exemplary way. And maybe if I am lucky, I will get another title.
I kindly invite you to the beautiful, historic Hotel Devín**** for a pleasant stay in the Lobby Bar or Café Devín, where you will enjoy the original Signature drinks. Cheers!
Tomáš Gyén – Senior Brand Ambassador ST. NICOLAUS