Adal Márquez – Interview
HOW DO YOU INTRODUCE YOURSELF?
How do I introduce myself? That’s a strange and hard question. To be honest, I don’t usually introduce myself! But if I have to, I would say I am a smiling and kind person, with an incredible ability to empathise.
YOU QUALIFY YOURSELF AS AN IMAGINATIVE BARTENDER. WHAT ARE YOU REFERRING TO?
Of course, more than just imaginative, a creative madman! Every day, I go to sleep thinking about some cocktail, and every morning I wake up pondering a recipe. So, since I’ve been at Boadas I’ve been able to immediately capture my dreams in a cocktail shaker (and it does not always end up well, haha)
WHO DO YOU LOOK UP TO (IF ANYONE) AND WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE A BAR WITH?
I look up to lots of people. In the national scene, of course my mentor Jerónimo Vaquero is above everyone else. There’s Marc Álvarez or Patxi Troitiño, and of course Gegam Kazarian (definitely my favourite on a national level. He’s a cocktail samurai)… and on the international scene, Salvatore Calabrese, Simone Caporale and Alex Kratena (more than colleagues, they are good friends that I stay in touch with; and, whenever they can, they come to see us at “The Church”). Jared Brown, definitely, and Ago Perrone.
And as for sharing the bar, I would love a “guest shift” with Ago and Gegam together; it would be an incredible show of elegance and purity. On the other hand, in a shift with Simone and Marc we would make something awesome and roguish.
LOOKING BACK ON YOUR CAREER PATH, WE SEE YOU SPENT SOME TIME WORKING AS A PHOTOGRAPHER AND GRAPHIC DESIGNER. HAVE YOU COMBINED THAT WITH BARTENDING? WHAT BROUGHT YOU BACK TO COCKTAILS? DO YOU STILL WORK IN THE FIELD?
I actually studied photography and graphic design on a whim, and studied hospitality out of motherly obligation, hahaha. What happened was that in the end, my mother knew better than me what I would be passionate about in the future. I combined it for a while, but in the end I was drawn into the world of flavours and balance (which is very similar to photography, really. Everything is about proportion, balance, and beauty). So no, it’s been many years since I have picked up a camera for money, not even for pleasure!
YOU SERVED AS A BRAND AMBASSADOR FOR BACARDI. WHILE REPRESENTING A BRAND OR COMPANY, WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ATTRIBUTES TO HAVE?
Brand Ambassadors should make the brand a part of their lives, breathe it, and project it through their words, actions and image. They should be honest, sincere, friendly and good communicators. Good Brand Ambassadors are always happy; as if they’re living the best possible life (at least that’s what they should show on the outside).
IT’S BEEN TWO YEARS NOW SINCE YOU’VE BEEN HEAD BARTENDER IN BOADAS DE BARCELONA, A COCKTAIL BAR WITH A FASCINATING HISTORY AND A MIX OF CITIES LIKE HABANA, LLORET, BARCELONA… PIONEERS LIKE MIGUEL BOADAS, MARIA DOLORES AND JOSÉ LUÍS… WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO WORK IN BOADAS? IS THERE A CERTAIN SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY?
Working at Boadas is a dream come true… I remember the first time I came in, 11 years ago now, and Jerónimo greeted me. I had been mixing for a short time and hardly knew how to make a cosmo, and then I fell in love with the space, with its history and with Jero’s joking and his everlasting smile. I never would have dreamed of working here. I also remember that at that time, I read Jared Brown books or articles by “The Maestro” Calabrese and I was amazed. Now, more than a decade later, I find myself here in Boadas, under the guidance of María Dolores and Jerónimo, having made my idols into my friends. And it’s like I’m in a dream. Of course there’s responsibility. Well, more than responsibility it’s a self-imposed weight. I’m the one who wants to give Boadas everything I have inside, and Boadas gives back to me every day with the smiles of satisfied clients. I think that my grain of sand in the immense beach that is Boadas Cocktails would be trying to return the brilliance that shined 60 years ago. It’s hard, very hard, as times have changed a lot, but we’re on the right track.
COULD YOU DEFINE BOADAS IN ONE PHRASE?
Boadas is a human bar.
YOU WERE THE RUNNER-Up IN THE BEEFEATER GLOBAL BARTENDER COMPETITION AND FINALIST IN THE WORLD CLASS 2015. WHAT EXPERIENCE DID YOU TAKE FROM BOTH OF THOSE ACCOMPLISHMENTS? DO YOU THINK THAT COCKTAIL CONTESTS / COMPETITIONS ARE IMPORTANT FOR TRAINING OR TO MAKE A NAME FOR YOURSELF?
My experiences have been good, to tell the truth. I think that contests and competitions, more than to train yourself, help you to stay in contact with your colleagues and learn new trends and creations. And of course there’s the implicit value that comes with the large media campaign around the winner. Even though it’s a paradox, the publicity can also be counterproductive and excessively feed one’s ego. To make your name, maybe… for training, no way! Training is done behind the bar, working like crazy.
LET’S TALK ABOUT EMPEROR’S NEW SUIT…
“Emperor’s New Suit” was a creation I’m quite proud of. Even so, it was a bad approach for the competition.
“The Emperor’s New Suit” is a famous children’s story in which some greedy tailors trick a king into thinking that they’ve made him a suit that only “non-stupid” people can see, and they really rob him of his fabric and precious gems, taking advantage of the stupidity of the king and his underlings’ fear of being seen as stupid.
What I did in my cocktail was to flip the story on its head. First I grabbed the Emperor (Blue Label) and dressed him in three deconstructions made in the rotavap.
First, a deconstruction of 18-year-old Cardhú with cacao seeds from Madagascar.
Second, a deconstruction of Bulleit with French vanilla.
Lastly, a deconstruction of Zacapa 23 with bits of cherry wood.
Once they were “deconstructed” and brought to a 76.6% alcohol level, I put them in perfume bottles and sprayed them into the final cup (previously heated with a bell and blowtorch), adding the Blue Label and accompanying it with fresh bamboo water and… Now I don’t remember what else it had!
HOW DID YOU GET TO KNOW TEICHENNÉ?
Well, I think it was Alberto Pizarro’s fault that I got to know it! Since then I’ve owed him a favour… hahaha.
TEICHENNÉ HAS BEEN RECOGNIZED AS “SPAIN DISTILLERY OF THE YEAR 2016,” (NEWS). RECEIVING AWARDS IN ITS RANGES OF GINS AND LIQUORS. WHAT PERCEPTION DO YOU HAVE OF THE TEICHENNÉ BRAND IN THE LAST YEAR?
Teichené has become a “must” anywhere that considers itself a cocktail bar. I can’t imagine my cocktails in Boadas now without the huge range of the well-crafted flavours that Teichené gives me.
WHICH TEICHENNÉ PRODUCTS HAVE SURPRISED YOU THE MOST?
I adore the Ginger Liqueur.
IF YOU HAD TO BET ON A DISTILLATE THAT WILL OR HAS ALREADY BURST ONTO THE COCKTAIL SCENE, WHICH WOULD IT BE?
Everyone would tell you mescal, but even though I think it’s a great product, it’s too expensive and artisan to bly burst onto the scene. I would bet on wine, mainly red in cocktailing. Wine breathes life into cocktails; it makes them evolve and provides an immense range of possibilities.
COULD YOU GIVE US A DEFINITION OF THE WORD BARTENDER, BASED ON YOUR EXPERIENCE?
A bartender is someone who always has a smile on their face, who has a bad day and nobody knows it, who’s a genius and a creator without barriers. A bartender is all elegance, attitude and passion, and if on top of that he or she knows how to make cocktails, even better! And since we’re on the subject… I can’t stand the bartenders who are “tough guys” and bad-tempered. They’re people who, even if they know a thousand recipes, don’t know anything… they entered the wrong profession. Maybe they’ve been at it for 30 years and memorised a lot, but they don’t know anything (like John Snow, haha).
This is a hard profession. When everyone is partying, you work. When everyone has a free day, you have twice the work, and that, if you don’t have passion, ends up taking its toll and turning them bitter.
Reading and boxing.
A SPOT TO RECOMMEND, OR TWO…
Without a doubt, Collage Bar (Consellers, 4), under the direction of Fernando, who is a total artist and an experienced bartender. And Belice (Santaló, 36), with Davide de Leo, my personal Ferrán Adrià of the liquid world.
TO WRAP UP, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE YOUNG WHO WANTS TO GET STARTED IN THE BUSINESS?
There’s a turning point in every bartender’s life in which, knowingly or not, you choose one path or another. You either stick with the same cocktails you already know, without worrying about getting better, working just as a way to get through life – these are the bitter ones, after 20 years. Or you turn cocktails into your entire life, 24/7, without rest, even when you’re sleeping. These are the ones that smile after 45 years, like my mentor Jerónimo Vaquero, the one who’s been smiling every night for 45 years, and he’s still there!
So my advice would be: If you truly don’t feel it inside, look for another path, or you’ll end up sad and bitter and you’ll spread that bitterness to those around you. If you want a job just for the money, look for something less savage in an office or something, because this, my friend, this is hard!