If you ask Dardan Shervashidze for advice on bartending, he won’t necessarily teach you cocktail techniques or recommend you enter cocktails competitions, instead, the 23-year bar industry veteran believes the best thing you can find is balance.
“It’s a really fun industry to be in but keep your head about you” he said. “Focus on the balance early on. Getting enough sleep, exercising, eating right, they are all things that I’ve come to appreciate.”
One of the trios of ‘rascals’ that owns both Ramblin Rascals and Double Deuce bars in Sydney, Shervashidze believes that if there is one skill that every bartender should have, it would be attention to detail.
“It’s not just in cocktail making but also in every aspect of their role behind the bar,” he explained. “You need to treat it like it’s your bar. I was always told when I was young that I should take ownership of my venues and now as an owner, I fully understand what that means.
“It’s getting your staff to know that this is their venue; this is their space too. It’s about taking pride in the space, ‘cause if you take care of the little things then the big things fall into place.”
Shervashidze is a strong believer in the hospitality side of bartending and thinks that at the end of the day, it really comes down to communication. To his mind, awards may be great but a bartender’s real skill can be judge through the interactions they have with every single customer that comes into their bar.
“I know bartenders that are fantastic at making cocktails and winning competitions, but put them behind a bar and they are not the most fun bartender to be served by. And I think if you’re at a bar as a customer, then you want a good drink but you also want entertainment.”
While over the last year, it’s been hard for bartenders to display this hospitality, Shervashidze doesn’t believe the industry is out for the count. He hopes that now that people will put more thought into what they drink at home, that will subsequently change the way that operators will run their bars.
“If anything, it has galvanised my belief that people need to have social interaction,” he said. “It hasn’t an easy road and it won’t be an easy road going forward but we will survive.
So how would Shervashidze sum up his experience as a bartender? He perhaps summed up the sentiment of so many in the drinks industry, when he said, “It brings me a lot of joy to help people have fun”