RAÚL FERNANDEZ MELIZ
Partnership with

RAÚL FERNANDEZ MELIZ

BARTENDER

Bartender in Sagartoki, Vitoria. He consider himself a barman from the olden days, old-school, who has had the willingness and the opportunity to grow and develop within a world he loves.

Teichenné Raúl Fernandez –  Interview

1.- HOW WOULD YOU INTRODUCE YOURSELF?
I consider myself a barman from the olden days, old-school, who has had the willingness and the opportunity to grow and develop within a world he loves.

2.- HOW DID YOU START IN THE MIXOLOGY/HOSPITALITY WORLD?
It could be said that I was born behind a bar. My father used to prepare Gin Fizz cocktail for distinguished characters, such as Alfredo Di Stefano, and he was the one who instilled in us the mixology calling. I remember serving my first cocktail when I was 12 years old, and I probably did not do it so bad the first time I stood behind a bar in Archy, the first business I managed with my brother, when I was 16. Mixology was the place’s trademark. People used to come to Vitoria to taste our classic recipes prepared with high quality distillates, and always with a lot of love. But I also remember that, when I was about 26, and in the most euphoric moment of the Smoky, we let ourselves be carried away by the generalized fashion of those times: long drinks and the champagne trend, and we made the mistake of “forgetting” about mixology. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to fix that mistake nowadays.

3.- WHO ARE YOUR MENTORS (IF YOU HAVE ANY)?
I’m a self-taught person really. I haven’t stopped working in personal projects since I started with my first bar, so I haven’t had the chance to learn by traveling or to study in places with a tracked record in mixology. But I had the opportunity to share a day with Erick Lorniz some years ago, when I got into mixology again. He is young, but he has a vision on mixology and on being a mixologist that is very similar to mine. His creations are balanced, yet his cocktails are not flat but a mix that evolves inside your mouth as you drink it. And let me tell you something else: in my opinion, there is a lot of psychology in being a mixologist, because of the interaction with the client. For me, that means to be a mixologist.

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4.- COULD YOU NAME SOME BARTENDERS FROM THE NEW GENERATION THAT YOU THINK WILL MAKE IT TO THE HEADLINES?
Marc Álvarez. I had the chance to work with him in Sagartoki and in my opinion he is currently one of the role models in mixology. He is humble, very creative and, above all, he has a throughout knowledge on distillates and on the products he works with. It’s essential to know what you’re playing with in order to get the highest performance and obtain the best results.

5.- HOW WAS THE SAGARTOKI PROJECT BORN? WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE WITH OTHER VENUES? WHAT’S THE IMPORTANCE MIXOLOGY HAS IN SAGARTOKI?
The project started to develop because of a mutual need, I needed Sagartoki and Sagartoki needed me. I say started to develop because it’s still growing. Sagartoki is a five-sense experience, everything chips in, the visual, the auditory aspects… Mixology of course has a very important role, but to achieve impressive cocktails, you must combine it with good gastronomy. The goal is that Sagartoki becomes an all-terrain establishment, with an all-terrain staff, capable of not only serving the best cocktails but also of transmitting something to the client, and make them feel and live an experience they would like to repeat.

6.- PAIRING COCKTAILS AND FOOD IS A GROWING INTERNATIONAL MIXOLOGY TREND, WHAT DO YOU THINK THE NATIONAL OUTLOOK COULD ADD TO THIS TREND?
A good gastronomic offer is the key to growth and evolution. But in my opinion, we have reached a stage where mixology and gastronomy coexist in an unbreakable symbiosis, just like both brain hemispheres do. Sagartoki and any other venue that wants to be considered top of the line must offer the best in every aspect. Needless to say, the national outlook counts with the best international restaurants who have decided to firmly bet on mixology.

Sagartoki is partnered with La Cocina de Senén. Our menus seek to obtain the best fusion between our dishes and cocktails in order to live the holistic Sagartoki experience.

7.- YOU’VE BEEN BEHIND THE BAR FOR MANY YEARS, COULD YOU TELL US WHICH DISTILLATES YOU THINK COULD COME TO THE FOREFRONT SHORTLY?
In my opinion, gin reign as a distillate has still a lot to give. But as regards mixology, I bet for Mezcal. Its smoky touches give it an unbelievable versatility which perfectly combines with citric, sweet, fruity notes… It turns a cocktail into a movie in your mouth.

8.- HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT TEICHENNÉ?
We could say that I bump into Cristóbal Mateos (head of national sales). He came to Sagartoki to visit the Vittoria Bar and we shared the same understanding on tastes but, above all, the same working philosophy, since the very beginning. We believed in each other, and the climax was the presence of Teichenné in FIBAR VALLADOLID 2014.

9.- AT TEICHENNÉ WE MAKE A SURE BET ON MIXOLOGY AND ON SUPPORTING BARTENDERS, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT?
It’s clear that a company’s means go hand in hand with its size. We are talking about a company who considers that its growth is deeply connected to the bartenders who know the products. Today, and thanks to this, Teichnné has a very good professional staff.

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10.- THIS YEAR MELBOURNE WINE&SPIRITS COMPETITION HAS GIVEN US THE “SPAIN DISTILLERY OF THE YEAR 2016″ PRIZE, WHAT’S YOUR PERCEPTION OF THE TEICHENNÉ BRAND THIS PAST YEAR?
Both Sagartoki and Teichenné have grown a lot over this last year. We both go step by step, but firmly, knowing how to get to our goals. Teichenné’s evolution as a brand can be seen in its quality, image, and it’s always supported by a good team. Because, at the end of the day, bringing a good team/family together in a project is what ensures your successful growth and branding.

11.- WHICH OF TEICHENNÉ’S PRODUCTS HAVE SURPRISED YOU THE MOST AND WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO PROFESSIONALS IN THE AREA?
In my opinion, the Level Gin Reserve gin, aged in barrels, is the key to any bartender’s bar. It’s a unique gin because of its wood touches, which give it a dry character that I personally love.

And Teichené’s Schnapps have been a really satisfactory surprise. They are colourless fruit liquors that, apart from their great quality, their transparency allows you to create finer and more attractive mixes for the consumer. Anyways, as I’ve previously said, the growth and evolution of the brand has its grounds on the fact that they have been able to create a wide variety of high quality products across the board.

12.- WOULD YOU SHARE A RECIPE WITH US?
MY CLOVER
: It’s a personal approach to the classic Clover Club.

4cl. Level Gin Reserve
1.5cl Teichenné Cherry Brandy Liquor
2.5cl Lemon
Simple Syrup Dash
Brandy Dash

It’s a cocktail which perfectly matches our caramelized French toasts with semifreddo yoghurt.

13.- WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR FREE TIME?
When I get home, I relax and I watch what’s new in the mixology world, venues, bartenders. I like reading about mixology, it relaxes me, and, besides, that way I keep up with current trends or I find out about new ones.

But men not only live on mixology, and to be honest, I love going to the woods, going for a walk, and sharing time with my people.

14.- WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE COCKTAIL?
I have many, as long as they are prepared with love, technique, and they present a balanced result.

Old fashion: I love the recipe and its preparation is art for me.
Bloody Mary: A fun cocktail. I took it to another level now that I prepare it with Mezcal.
Negroni: An elegant, subtle aperitif.

And if I’m truly relaxed, I treat myself with a Dry Martini with olive touches and I combine it with dried fruits and nuts. It’s a permanent record in my taste memory.

15.- WHAT’S YOUR OPINION ABOUT MIXOLOGY COMPETITIONS/CONTESTS? ARE THEY NECESSARY FOR TRAINING YOURSELF OR BECOME KNOWN?
They are tremendously useful, for learning and evolving above all. Obviously, if you take part in a competition, it’s because you want to win, but you end up getting so much more from it than that. In order to prepare for the contest, you had to read, get to know and learn about products, history… And I have to be creative. Win or lose, you’ve grown as a professional in a way you won’t grow by going to courses or lectures.

16.- TO WRAP UP, WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE WHO WANT TO GET STARTED IN THE BUSINESS?
That they have to be passionate about it, they have to enjoy the profession, and they need to be willing to work. They will first be bartenders and then, once they have a solid base, they will be able to specialize as mixologists.

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