Last week I had the pleasure of hanging out with Erik Lorincz, Head Bartender of the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel in London. Lorincz was in town to give a short bartending presentation at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. (The Savoy is Fairmont Hotel.)
We also ended up doing a bar tour of many of SF's top bars two nights in a row. (Somehow, I always end up giving bar tours of SF's top bars. I should get my official tour guide certification.)
Lorincz is only 31 and has one of the most enviable positions in the industry, working at the bar that produced the The Savoy Cocktail Book and carrying on the legacy of Ada Coleman, Harry Craddock, and Peter Dorelli. But from his bio and what he told me, he worked hard to get there, starting right out of high school.
While studying hospitality at home in Slovakia, he got interested in bartending, attended a bartending competition in Prague as a guest, and then signed on for a month-long bartending program there one year out of high school. While in the program he started bartending thanks to a connection his teacher made, and continued to bartend in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. He was a bar manager there as the cocktail scene there was just beginning.
Looking to move forward in his career, he moved to London to learn English. He took a job as a barback cleaning ashtrays and such at the Attica club. Then he found a job bartending in a Japanese restaurant and was intrigued by the Japanese style of bartending, so he went to Japan to meet and study under the famous Kazuo Uyeda.
After his stint working in Japanese bars in London, Lorincz was able to apply his skills at the hotel bar at The Sanderson and then The Connaught. In 2010, he won the Diageo World Class international bartending competition (beating 9000 entrants), and started his position at the American Bar at the Savoy when it reopened on 10/10/2010.
The point of all of this is: That's some damn impressive focus.
I don't know about you, but I'm on my third career. Though I don't regret the other two in the least, I do think about what would have happened if I'd gone into cocktails and writing right out of college. Heck, I may have even taken an undergraduate English course.
For myself and for many of the bartenders I know, we just wandered into this whole cocktail thing and became fascinated by it. It would have been cool to find that fascination earlier on.