Meet Your Mixologist: Tomas Vikario
"Australian bartenders are several steps in front of the region; they are well educated and very inventive."
Tomas Vikario is one of mixology's brightest stars working down under. Hailing from Croatia and dividing his time between Australia and New Zealand, he's on the cusp of new developments in the trade. Société Perrier caught up with Vikario and asked him about his past, present and future.
What is your background? How did you end up in the mixology?
Tomas Vikario: Curiosity was my major drive. I finished school as a graphic designer, but once when I founded myself behind the bar I knew that bartending and hospitality was my calling. Even though my first dream was to become a chef, life took me to graphic creativity and brought back behind a bar. My career in hospitality began 18 years ago with 11 years behind a bar and working and managing many top end Croatian establishments. After receiving my marketing degree, my life path was changed a bit. I became brand ambassador and brand manager for Monin, Grand Marnier, Camus, Pommery and Fernet Branca brands in Croatia. After five years successfully managing those brands I went step further and start managing Diageo brands (Johnnie Walker, Baileys, Smirnoff, Gordon’s, Captain Morgan, J&B) and Monin for the same market in next two years. In that seven-year period I was trained by top global mixologists and had a chance to travel and see many global markets. In the last year I’m living between New Zealand and Australia working as a Beverage Innovation Manager for Australasian company Stuart Alexander, Ltd., who is Perrier's importer and distributor for this beautiful part of the world.
What is your vision of the Mixology by Perrier concept? How is it perceived in New Zealand?
I highly salute Perrier Mixology program and admire the concept created by my dear friend, Laurent Greco. It is original and very unique. Mixology by Perrier program differentiates us from the competition. The program gives more values to the customers and end consumers. Perrier is the only water brand in the world that offers that multi sensorial experience. In New Zealand, we had many skeptic bartenders and bar owners in the beginning, looking at us with a smile, like, bro it is just water! After several training sessions, tastings and workshops their perception of the Perrier brand completely changed. Bar owners and bartenders and even other spirit brands understand elegance and uniqueness of the brand and it is recognized now as a leader in mixology segment. Sales so far are showing us that we are on the good track. Not to forget that New Zealand has very strong competitive water market, both domestic and international brands.
How was the recent masterclass was organized?
Mixology by Perrier Masterclass was organized for top end Auckland’s bartenders and media partners in one of the best Auckland’s venues, 1885 Bar. This bar is a part of the Britomart Hospitality Group whose bars and clubs are all Perrier flag ships. This group runs several best venues in Auckland’s CBD. I used global recipes created by Laurent [Greco], but also added several personal concoctions and concepts to it. The result of this Masterclass was the launch of tailored Perrier Collins cocktail list in this bar group few days after.... Since this session was kind of tailored one with limited seating’s, we plan to organize several more Masterclasses for other bars from our top 20 hit list.
Could you share with us one of your specific creations with Perrier?
Forest Fizz (highlighting dehydration technique and violet flowers):
- 5ml Monin Violet syrup, 20ml Monin Wild berry syrup, 15ml lemon juice 45ml vodka, shaken and strained over fresh ice cubes in a
- luxury long drink glass with previously decorated rim with violet sugar (dried violet flower powder and caster sugar mixture). Finish
- the drink with chilled Perrier. Decorate the drink with edible sugar coated violet flowers.
- serve the drink on Perrier plate decorated with mix of edible micro herbs and dried violet flowers.
Perrier Red berries Mojito (highlighting Perrier Mojito Air technique)
- 10ml Monin Mojito Mint Syrup
- 15ml Monin Red berries Fruit mix puree
- 45ml Stolen white rum
- 3 lime wedges, 15 mint leaves.
Muddle the lime, mint leaves and Monin flavorings in a bottom of the mixing glass. Add ice and top it with white rum. Shake and strain in luxury long drink glass over freshly crushed ice. Top it with chilled Perrier. Gently place Perrier Mojito Air on top of the drink and decorate it with small mint sprig. Serve the drink on Perrier plate decorated with mixed berries, few drops of Monin red berries puree and Perrier Mojito Air.
To create Perrier Mojito Air, dissolve 1 tsp of Lecite powder in the 150ml of Perrier and 30 ml Monin mojito Mint syrup. Stir to dissolve. Use aerator device to create light texture air.
What are the current trends in NZ for cocktails? And in Australia/South Pacific region?
Like everywhere in the world New Zealand/Australian bartenders are closely following global trends. Back to prohibition era is one of the major ones. Old fashion, 1920 style cocktails are very popular at the moment. Spirit infusions and cold drip coffee cocktails and barrel/glass aged cocktails are very much in now. To create own syrup, bitter or tincture is also very posh thing to do. Speakeasy style bars are opening doors on weekly basis. Australian bartenders are several steps in front of the region; they are well educated and very inventive (highlighting here The Roosevelt bar in Sydney with their liquid nitrogen trolley concept and seasonal food and cocktail matching dinner experiences). Their bar skills are on high level of knowledge and I can see them leading the global trends soon. The best thing is about the Australian bartenders is that they are open for new ideas and knowledge which is very important for the future business. I am learning a lot from them every day. Speakeasy style is not exclusive for all bars, I can see rise of Tiki cocktails and '80s style Piña Coladas and other colorful long drinks coming back as well.
What are the next projects to keep implementing the Mixology by Perrier in NZ/Australia?
Stuart Alexander Ltd. have dedicated sales and marketing teams on the field who are working very hard to put the brand on the position that deserves – back on the top! We will focus our efforts on the distribution and top 20 bar projects. Next big events where our customers and consumers can see us will be Restaurant and Bar Show in Auckland (August 19-20) as a part of Barmasters - Monin Cup Bartender competition where we will have Mixology by Perrier workshop as well. This year’s Sydney Bar Show (September 22-25) will have chance to experience Perrier Mixology as well; we will have beautiful booth there where we partnered with Monin brand. Seminar Mixology by Perrier will be on repertoire there as well. Besides these big events we will host numerous smaller training sessions for top end bartenders and exclusive establishments as well for the all Perrier wholesaler’s teams across the New Zealand and Australia. We will continue to build Perrier brand on fashion events and on the internet sites. We will have big PR push together with all activities listed above.