Being in Sydney for the 2015 Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition has afforded me opportunity to sit down with influencers in the local and global cocktail culture. Among these is Russia’s Elizaveta Evdokimova—or Lizzy—who won the 2013 Legacy Competition with her “Knight Cup” rum cocktail.
With her win, Evdokimova became the event’s first female champion. She traveled the world with Bacardi to promote her cocktail, and now sits on the judging panel for the 2015 competition. I caught up with her for a Q&A.
Q: How popular is rum in Russia?
A: It’s really starting to get popular in Russia. Right now, it’s just behind whiskey in terms of popularity. Rum is really easy to drink. And as a brand, it tends to have a good story behind it, especially the good brands, like Bacardi, which do a great job promoting their products.
Being so easy to drink, rum is really good in cocktails. It’s really easy for the customer to understand it. With whiskey you have so many different types—Scotch, single malts, etc.—but rum is a bit easier to explain to a customer.
And in Russia, we love sweet flavors, so we love rum.
Q: What drinks and spirits are popular right now in your country?
A: Dark and Stormy, Daiquiri, Rum Old Fashioned, and my Legacy cocktail, as well.
The cocktail culture in Russia really started to evolve about seven years ago. After this, all spirits began to become more popular, because people would read about them and then want to drink new cocktails.
Q: What’s it like being a bartender in Russia?
A: It’s quite good, especially in Moscow, because Moscow is more like New York or Sydney—more cosmopolitan.
It’s become a very popular gig, being a bartender. In Russia and all over, bartenders have become rockstars. It’s similar to what’s happening right now with chefs. People are going into a bar not because they like the atmosphere of the bar, but because of the bartender who works there.
Q: What advice do you have for the aspiring bartender?
A: Work hard. At the end of the day, we’re just employees. Focus on working, and not on being a star. One problem with bartenders now is that they think it’s enough to just be a good professional. But you have to put in the work.
Q: What was it like to become the first female to win the Bacardi Legacy Competition?
A: It was amazing. But when I won, I didn’t have the view that gender had anything to do with it. If you’re a good professional, then you’re a good professional, regardless of gender.
That said, a lot of female bartenders have been inspired by my winning, because it proved that female bartenders could do big things.
Q: You studied to become a biomedical systems engineer in college before becoming as bartender. Have your college studies helped you in your profession?
A: All those skills and knowledge have helped me create my own style. Even though I don’t work as an engineer, I use similar skills in terms of structuring my drinks.