A week in the life of Alex Kratena

Head bartender of London’s Artesian cocktail bar Alex Kratena shares his globetrotting schedule – including Dubai



Sunday

It is 5.30am and I have just got back from work as head bartender at Artesian bar in the Langham Hotel, London. It is time to take a quick shower and double check my luggage as I am catching an early flight to Warsaw. During my trip I will be delivering a talk on non-alcoholic drinks and presenting at the Polish Bar Awards. Once I get to the hotel in Warsaw, I quickly check my emails then grab a coffee and meet the organisers of the show. The Polish Bar Awards is a cool and informal event, and I am presenting the award for Best Hotel Bar in Poland. After the ceremony we are hitting one of my favourite bars, Kita Koguta, but I will have an early night.

Monday

I wake up early and then grab a quick breakfast with the other speakers for today’s event. I quickly practice my talk for the last time and then head to the venue. Once there, I start to prepare all the samples and ingredients needed for my presentation.Iamfirstupandallgoesreally well. I think the crowd loved it. After the show I meet my best friend, who works and lives here as an expat. I have not seen him for a year and there is lot to catch up on but after a couple of hours it is time to catch the last plane to London.

Tuesday

An early start again. Abi, my regular taxi driver, is laughing because he takes me to the airport three to four times a week and never seems to understand how I do it. To be perfectly honest, travelling can be recharging. Today I am flying to Dubai to run a presentation on creativity for bartenders with flavoured beverage syrup manufacturer Monin. I relax in the Emirates business lounge and catch up with a couple of emails. I am lucky to be flying on the latest A380. Once on board, the bartender invites me behind the bar. An offer that I cannot turn down. The A380 is the only aircraft I have yet to make a drink on. Tick.

Tonight, I am meeting the United Arab Emirates Monin team for sushi and a few drinks at Buddha Bar. My friend, who is the global bar manager for the Buddha Bar group, introduced me via Facebook to Francesco, who runs the show in Dubai and he comes to say hi. Later we all pop in to Zengo for a couple of drinks. Cool place.

Wednesday

An early start to set up and prepare for the masterclass. The audience is huge and I am delighted to see some of the usual suspects. The presentation I am giving today is all about my philosophy and creative process. I enjoy talking about this. Every time, it helps me to understand myself a little better. The talk goes well and it is time to wrap up and move to the next venue to prepare for the evening party. The team are complete professionals and everything goes smoothly.

I head back to my hotel and grab a salad at the bar. Then it is time to change and head back for the evening party. I catch up with a few guys I know at the event and make drinks behind the bar for everyone. This party is super fun. Later the Monin guys take me to Blasé, a new club in Dubai. I love it.

Thursday

Today we are going dune bashing. The local guide Mohammed is such a cool guy. Having never been to the UAE before, I am loving every minute of it.

In the afternoon I check out the Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa and then Zuma DIFC. Everyone keeps on debating whether Zuma in Miami is better than the one in Dubai or vice versa. Now that I have been to both, I must say Dubai has the upper hand. Jimmy Barratt, the head bartender, gives me a tour. After dinner and drinks, I head back to the hotel to pack and leave for the airport.

As soon as we take off,I get some sleep; tomorrow will be a long day.

Friday

I touch down at Gatwick around 7.30am. A quick shower is needed in order to refresh myself for meetings and then I jump on the train and make my way to work. At lunchtime, I nip out for a coffee at Workshop London and a quick bite of sushi with my girlfriend. Then back to work – time to jump behind the bar until the early hours of the morning.

Saturday

I sleep till 12, then start work at 3pm. It is nice to feel rested. Artesian has earned a few awards over the last four years including the ‘best bar in the world’ for the third year running.

We serve our cocktails in custom- made containers. It is an important part of the cocktail-drinking experience here. Anyone who visits Artesian must start with our signature drink: the Camouflage. It blends gin, Americano, cold-press carrots, and sandalwood syrup topped up with fermented tea. It is a light, refreshing, fragrant and aromatic drink – served in a beautiful brass pineapple.

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