All you need to know about being a bartender
Interested in getting into the bartending industry or already working but want to find out more? We caught up with Dan Dove, Senior Reserve Brand Ambassador for Diageo, and put your questions to him. This is what he had to say…
How did you get into bartending?
I moved to Spain with my family when I was 17 and started bartending in a cocktail bar near Valencia.
Was there anyone in the industry that particularly inspired you?
I was mainly inspired by top chefs as I knew they would give me the insight into the future years of bar techniques and ingredients.
How do you become a good bartender?
- Select and read the most current books in the industry.
- Enter a lot of competitions to build experience in different environments and with different brands. Programs like World Class upskill you as a bartender as much as they raise your profile.
- Attention to detail is very important – always ask yourself WHY? From the glassware you are using to every ingredient that goes into it.
- The hosting and experience is as important as the drink you are serving. Ensure you upskill yourself in that area as much as you do in the mixology and liquid side.
How do you keep up to date with the latest industry news?
Being part of the World Class network and family; we have the privilege a truly global insight into the industry and current affairs. Social media is the best way to keep up on a day to day basis—I spend approximately 30 minutes every day on Facebook keeping connected to the industry.
How did you make the change to become a reserve ambassador?
After spending 7 years in the industry and owning a bar events company, I was given the opportunity to work as the ambassador for ZACAPA Rum… how can you turn down representing the best Rum in the world!?
What are the pros and cons of being an ambassador?
There are many pros and a small number of cons. Pros are spending time with a global network of mixologists and trying to better the industry and grow the art form and respect of the bartender, learning new cultures, being at the forefront of global trends and leading the World Class Program. Cons would be the hours spent away from my family and the paperwork side that not many people see.
What does the role of an Ambassador entail?
The role of the Ambassador in Diageo Reserve is to inspire, educate and help elevate the bar industry.
Do you get to travel a lot and if so, what do you normally do when you travel for work?
Yes, I am lucky enough to travel a fair amount. My traveling is normally linked to the World Class Competition, judging country finals, running trend workshops and educating bartenders.
Do you have any advice for kickstarting a career?
To set yourself up for success quickly I would advise to work in a top bar as a bar-back (bar support) rather than a bartender or manager in a mid-level bar. This way you will be part of an innovative team that gives you the level of creativeness and freedom you need.
How important do you feel training and development programs like World Class and Diageo Bar Academy are for raising the standards in our industry?
I think programs such as World Class and Bar Academy are key to helping raise the bar industry standards. We are able to work alongside a large portion of the global bar industry enabling change to happen in a much more frequent manner. Education is key to the development of any industry.
What is your favorite Diageo Reserve brand to work with?
The Diageo Reserve portfolio is the strongest in the world and I would be happy to work for any of them. If I had to pick I would say Ron Zacapa.
Why is Zacapa not so popular and apart from the classics that we know of, which cocktail can Zacapa make perfectly?
I believe the cocktail that shows Zacapa in its best form is the Old-Fashioned.
- 1.75 oz. ZACAPA 23
- .25 oz. simple syrup
- 3 drops bitters (chocolate or orange)
- Grapefruit twist for garnish
What is the best city you have been to for cocktail culture?
There are some amazing cities around the world that all offer something unique in terms of style, access to ingredients and bartender community. If I had to pick it would be London due to the vast amount of international bartenders and chefs that have helped influence a fantastic multicultural environment and competitiveness which raises the bar continuously.
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