Tipples

Bartender Alex Kratena wants to keep the drinks industry pouring with new collective, P(OUR)

Czech bartender Alex Kratena hopes to keep the drinks industry evolving.
Czech bartender Alex Kratena hopes to keep the drinks industry evolving.PHOTO: REGENT SINGAPORE

World-renowned bartender Alex Kratena left the world's No. 1 bar, Artesian at Langham hotel in London, last November. But the 34-year-old and fellow former Artesian alumni Simone Caporale have been busy setting up a global drinks collective called P(OUR) in a bid to evolve the industry.

The collective was started for those in the industry to share knowledge and explore ideas. It aims to evolve the global drinks industry and will exist as an online portal, pourdrink.org, which is set to go live on May 11, as well as an annual global symposium.

Going beyond the bartending world, the collective will involve experts from the worlds of wine, beer, coffee and tea.

Speaking to The Sunday Times from Munich, Kratena explains the name: "The only thing that connects anyone in the drinks industry is pouring, whether you're a wine-maker, barista, sommelier, distiller or bartender. At one point or another, you pour.

"P(OUR) is about bringing everyone in the drinks industry together to create an independent platform which will give everybody a voice," he adds.

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P(OUR), he says, was not borne of his frustration with the industry. "We are just people who love challenges and who always seek ways to do things better." He hopes it "will inspire a new generation of hospitality or drinks professionals" who can take the industry to the next level.

Content generated on the portal by those who are part of the collective, be it articles, videos or podcasts, will be free.

The first of the annual symposiums will be held in Paris in conjunction with trade show Cocktails & Spirits on June 19 and 20, with a few smaller events to be held throughout the year. The symposium is set to feature curated talks by influential bar- tenders and leaders from other drink-related professions.

This year, the symposium's theme is The Modern Bartender, which explores the role of the bartender beyond serving behind the bar.

He has also recruited other leading bar figures, namely Jim Meehan from New York bar PDT; Oslo mixologist Monica Berg; Ryan Chetiyawardana, who is behind the bars White Lyan and Dandelyan in London; London- based drinks entrepreneur Xavier Padovani; and Jorg Meyer, who runs Le Lion in Hamburg.

The 100 per cent non-profit initiative will rely on the "generosity of the industry and donors" to run, he says.

Kratena and Berg, who are partners, will also be in Singapore next weekend as part of the second anniversary of Manhattan Bar at the Regent Singapore. Manhattan recently clinched the No. 5 spot at the inaugural Asia's 50 Best Bars Awards.

They will be doing two guest shifts, one each next Friday and Saturday. The Saturday shift will feature table- side trolley service, where they will make drinks with a liquor-laden trolley cart by the table.

Berg, a master mixologist, has also distilled a small batch of Aquavit - a Nordic flavoured spirit - exclusively for Manhattan.

Excited to check out the burgeoning bar scene in the Republic, he says: "You guys opened another 500 amazing bars, so I need to check all those places out."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 24, 2016, with the headline 'Keeping the drinks industry pouring'. Print Edition | Subscribe