Learning from the bars in Aberdeen

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Dan Nevsky makes a living away from the desk. 

Bartending isn’t always late nights, drunk people and smelling of spilt stale beer. It is also a career which can see you making cocktails across the globe.

Twenty-six-year-old Danil Nevsky has been bartending since he was 18 after getting into hospitality at the age of 15. Originally from Voronezh in Russia, he has been training in the bars of Aberdeen after he got into cocktail-making.

Dan said: “I began at Soul Bar on Union Street back in 2009 when it was all about mojitos, blended daiquiris and white Russians.

“I also learned a lot during my time working at Orchid; I was fortunate enough to work alongside some great mixologists.”

Dan has completed his WSET (Wine and Spirits Education Trust) level two and has attended brand-related training more than 100 times. These include the likes of Bacardi, Diageo and Pernod Ricard, so Dan is a man who knows how to tell the difference between a pina colada and cuba libre. Training is not optional but mandatory in this career, Dan believes.

“You can always train yourself and there is never something you can’t learn from others or something new. Practice makes perfect. Finally, open-mindedness is key,” he said.

Officially he is also a Scottish License Holder for the sale of alcohol under Scottish licensing law.

He said: “I’ve got about 20 different bar shows under my belt that I’ve attended. They had some of the leading speakers of the bar industry attending.”

But what is there to like about a career in the alcoholic drinks industry? Dan views cocktails and craft bartending as a type of marathon performance art and that’s what attracts him to the industry. People from all walks of life fall into that career choice.

“They all bring something unique to it from their own perspective,” he said.

For him, every day is different and this is something he likes. Dan also likes to “craft new experiences for people”, change himself and change other people in the process. He does this by entering a wide variety of competitions and challenging his abilities.

“The art of presentation is key in competitions,” he said.

“People bring their A-game to competitions, further pushing the boundaries of flavour and creativity.

“Your networking opportunities with other bars, bartenders and brand ambassadors is priceless and could push your career forward.”

Through competing, Dan has made some of his closest friends and been taken to places he could not dream of seeing on his own. He believes that travelling opens you up as a person, not just as a bartender – by challenging yourself to new experiences you are enhancing your personality, which helps in making a good bartender.

Dan said: “Other than some traditions and differences in language, people all over the world just want to drink and eat.

“Realising this and seeing some of the wonders of the world helps me be more relatable worldwide, as opposed to just reading about places on Wikipedia.”

So bartending helps you make friends, enhances your personality and allows you to travel. Everything sounds almost too good to be true. Can it be a viable career choice then? Dan certainly thinks so.

“Just like any industry it requires discipline, mental and physical strength, as well as a goal to work towards,” he said.

“A lot of people think it’s a passing job and don’t see a future in hospitality due to them seeing it as a lower-paid job. I’ve visited some incredible places and experienced things some people can only dream of. For me, it’s more exciting than sitting at a desk for a living.”

Aberdeen has produced a Global Bitters Brand, Dr Adam Elmegirabs Bokers Bitters, and Porter’s Gin. Fierce Beer is hand-brewed in the area which is also home to Brewdog and Six° North. There is no lack of drink-making in the north-east, so there is plenty of need for bartenders to look after it.

Dan said: “The things you learn about people and life in the hospitality industry teach you transferable skills that you carry within you throughout your life.

“There are enough bars to learn from in Aberdeen and the opportunity is there. So do it and you might come out a better person.”

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