Master mixology: Cocktail classes with International Bartender of the Year

Alex Kratena's cocktail concoctions have earned him plenty of awards. (Courtesy of The Langham, London)
Alex Kratena’s cocktail concoctions have earned him plenty of awards. (Courtesy of The Langham, London)

Each city’s cocktail scene has its own unique idiosyncrasies and defining characteristics, but the basics of service, standards and hospitality throughout the world are universal. Alex Kratena, head bartender at The Langham’s Artesian cocktail bar in London, will cover those bases as well as demonstrate mixing techniques and recipes at two events at Bond, at Boston’s Langham Hotel, on March 31 and April 1. The first night is a master-mixology class for members of the industry and the second is an event open to the public, where guests will try the four cocktails he’s designed inspired by the four cities where the hotel group have properties.

The Czech-born Kartena, who won “International Bartender of the Year” at Tales of the Cocktail in 2012 and whose bar has garnered numerous best bar in the world-type awards, says the ideals are the same wherever he goes. “First are consistency and focus on the guests. That’s the key to success. You don’t compromise on that in any way. It’s about taking all of the different elements of the operation and doing them 150 percent, but always having the service in the first place.” For the bartender class he’ll cover that concept as well as everything else, from designing bespoke glassware for your bar to the nuts and bolts of mixing.

On the second night he’ll be mixing cocktails for guests, such as a recipe inspired by the floral aesthetic of the city of Pasadena made with vodka, Lillet, vetiver, rose water, and lemon juice. “It’s a beautiful, floral drink, with a really long finish and eclectic flavors thanks to the aromatics, he says. For Boston he chose aquavit, fino sherry, cedarwood syrup, bitters and citrus. “The ingredients are as eclectic as the Boston skyline,” he says. “I wanted something really different with the aquavit. When you see it on paper you think, ‘Oh, that’s not going to work,’ but it really blends well with the other ingredients.”

As for what he forecasts in the year of cocktails, Kartena expects more aging of cocktails in different materials, whether it’s stainless steel or leather. “Also, a lot of people are working with savory ingredients now,” he says, a trend I’m absolutely in favor of. “Many bartenders are realizing, oh, hold on, we haven’t explored so many different areas.” He’s working with mushrooms a lot lately. “A lot of things haven’t been explored yet. I think that’s what we’re tapping into.”

Interesting ingredients aside, he also expects, like many of the bartenders I talk to of late, even more of a return to simplicity, with three or four ingredients carrying the drinks. “I think everyone is done with all the garnishes, and we’re going to see a return to a focus on ingredients,” he says. “Ingredients are the true star of the cocktail, not the bartenders.”

Spoken like a true bartender star.

If you go
BOND at The Langham
250 Franklin St., Boston
617-956-8765
www.boston.langhamhotels.com



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Bloomberg: Going green will grant you longer life…

Former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg tells Metro that cities are where fighting global warming can make a difference, and increase people’s lifespan.

International

Ban Ki Moon: "Climate change is an issue…

My message to you is: make your voice heard and your actions count. Change is in the air. Solutions exist. The race is on. It’s time to lead.

Local

Earth Day New York food toolkits to help…

Hundreds of classrooms across New York City already have indoor container gardens that allow students to grow food right where they learn. But Earth Day…

Local

NYPD announces street closures for United Nations General…

The United Nations representatives are in town, and multiple city streets will be closed to traffic through Saturday, Sept. 26. The NYPD is urging those…

The Word

The Word: Kris and Bruce Jenner's predictably public…

They said it wouldn't last — mostly because of that separation almost a year ago. And now, more than a year later, Kris and Bruce…

Movies

Antoine Fuqua knows how to kill a man…

It's amazing what you can get done with the right tools. In designing the climactic battle in "the Equalizer," in which Denzel Washington's retired special…

Television

10 Facts you won’t learn about Frankie Grande…

Frankie Grande is the worst and/or the best. Whether or not you're a fan, you'll want to know these facts about the polarizing player from "Big Brother 16."

Movies

Guess Ben Kingsley's worst filmmaking experience

Here's a fun game: Sir Ben Kingsley has made a lot of films since "Gandhi" in 1982, but at least one of them was a…

NFL

3 things that went wrong in Jets loss…

The Jets have very little room for error with a far-from-explosive offense.

NFL

Eli Manning finally feeling good in West Coast…

The Giants have very little time before their next game, but they still took a moment to relish the team’s biggest offensive outburst since Week 1 of 2013.

College

College football top 25 poll: Oregon, Alabama close…

College football top 25 poll: Oregon, Alabama close in on FSU

NFL

Jay Cutler takes Marc Trestman's coaching to heart

While Jay Cutler turned to an autobiography on the man who would be his head coach, Trestman had personal experience with the player.

Wellbeing

Exercising leads to more drinking — and we…

  We’re rewarding ourselves with more than dessert on days we exercise, according to a new study. On days when people exercise more, typically Thursday…

Wellbeing

5 gadgets to protect you from sharks, concussions,…

The medical industry is inundated with devices looking after all aspects of your wellbeing, from monitoring your sleep patterns to warding off shark attacks. We…

Wellbeing

Narcissism and the ugly side of vanity

I have a friend who constantly talks about herself and rarely asks any questions about my life. She is constantly preening, obsessed with her body,…

Wellbeing

Lacking new ideas, Apple Watch disappoints health experts

Technology pundits were quick to predict the demise of most fitness wristbands and smartwatches when the Apple Watch was announced. But health care professionals and…