Alexander Sourbatis booked a one-way ticket to Germany
This post is also available in: Greek
I had an interesting coffee-talk with one of my favourite bartenders, Alexander Sourbatis, in his new adopted city. Alexander has established new bar concepts and has worked in well-known bars as bar manager and has greatly influenced the Greek bar scene. He is an experienced and educated bartender. He passed the BAR 5-Day™ Program in New York and is one of the BAR® Certificate Holders.
Alexander Sourbatis describes himself as a whisky addict and rum lover, cocktail enthusiast, and pain in the ass bar manager. After finishing school, he studied electronic engineering and computer science but didn’t like it much. While he was studying he always worked as a bartender. “After school, I started to play with shakers and have never stopped”, Sourbatis says.
Alexander Sourbatis was born in 1984, is married, and has two beautiful daughters. His career milestones: Chania in Crete for six years, one year in Glyfada, one year at Shepheard in Cologne, back to Thessaloniki to work for two and a half years at La Doze, two years at Vogatsikou 3, he managed Spinte and opened the B.A.R. Lab, went to Athens as head bartender of Mary Pickford and has recently started work at Hunky Dory in Frankfurt.
How could you leave sunny Greece? And why did you choose Frankfurt?
“First, I want to give my kids more opportunities for the future: we didn’t want to raise them in Greece. My wife was born in Frankfurt and still has relatives here, so the decision was easily made. Frankfurt benefits from a convenient geographical location near France, Switzerland and Austria, and is perfectly connected to the rest of the world by an international airport. The good thing is that I already speak German because I went to a German school in Greece. At the moment, I am looking for a flat and hopefully within the next half year my family will come over. For the time being I am trying to spend as much time as possible visiting my family in Thessaloniki.”
“Secretly, I would claim that Frankfurt is Germany’s bar capital. The variety of different concepts is immense and the quality of the drinks very high. Many international guests come here and they are used to the high standards of London, Paris and New York. It is an exciting and challenging city and people have more money to spend on their food and drinks.”
Others had already tried to win you over to their bars. So why did you choose Hunky Dory?
“Hunky Dory is a bar where you can have fun. It is a serious bar but also a place where people feel welcome, comfortable and can relax, breaking away from the treadmill of everyday life. The trend of educating people is not the way to give the guests a better understanding of serious drinking. Hunky Dory is an independent bar and every team member can contribute. Armin (Armin Azadpour – Hunky Dory owner) invests in people and not in things.”
Azadpour has taken on Alexander because from his confident appearance to his craftsmanship, everything just fits. His heart beats for cocktails and whisky flows through his veins. I have already worked with Alexander Sourbatis twice behind the bar and I can tell you: he is a machine, a work horse, and his energy seems infinite. His mission is to serve people, make them happy and leave them with a smile, simple as that!
Armin and Alexander will complement each other very well: perfect host and great bartender. Armin has provided an amazing stage for Alexander and after the first year at Hunky Dory it is time for the team “to go the extra mile” and not rest on their laurels. A motivated and satisfied team is important for success. A bar is as successful as its team.
What are your personal drinking preferences? Describe yourself as a cocktail?
“Strong and straight, bitter and sweet, like a Manhattan.” I would totally agree. Alexander loves classic cocktails and this one is truly a classic, a drink with a long history and never forgotten.
“Generally, I like every aged spirit and I am a real whisky addict. My favourite after work drink is a Scotch & Soda. It is a classic Highball which dates back to the 1800s. Unfortunately, bartenders don’t respect the mixture because it seems so simple and they do not pay attention. Highballs are on the rise and this will make scotch and soda great again. Let your palate be the judge and try the mix of Monkey Shoulder and soda. Do not forget about the lemon zest, this is the crucial part of the libation.”
Stirred or shaken?
“I prefer to stir drinks because balancing the drink is more demanding. You need to be more precise as to how wet the ice is, how big the ice cubes are, how long you stir, which vessel you use, and so on. Stirring is art, shaking is effort.”
Is there a difference between Greek and German guests?
“Frankly, I cannot find any significant differences. Our guests are international but I have noticed that Germans pay more attention to the menu and stick to the listed drinks. In Greece, they do not care and usually order by saying “make me something”.
And how do you analyse preferences and make recommendations?
“I ask for the drink they usually order and then build something around that.”
What was your most extraordinary experience with a guest?
“Once upon a time at a Greek bar in Chalkidiki a lady ordered a Negroni. It was a summer bar, a hot night: 35 degrees. That was quite unusual. But after a while she ordered a second one and I was really surprised. When she ordered the third Negroni I was really impressed. After my shift, we went together with some friends to a club where this lady finished the night with beers and shots. Have a guess! The lady ordering three Negronis is my wife today.”