4 years ago

Jeppe Nothlev: The Hug Drug

Enjoy an interview with Jeppe and meet other winners of Tahona Society Cocktail Competition 2017.

How did you become a bartender?

I started working in a hotel when I was 14. Running plates for the breakfast buffet was my entry into the hospitality industry. I kept working in bars and hotels growing up and eventually when I had to choose between college and bars, the latter seemed like the right decision. I haven’t looked back since. 

Define service in 3 words

Make someone’s day!

How should “the perfect bar experience” be?

To me, any visit to a bar that leaves you with a smile on your face is the perfect experience. 

What was the creative process behind your winning cocktail, the Sweet Effort?

Mix Mexican street food, a desire to use my ingredients in as many ways as possible and a little bit of Danish tradition, and you pretty much have the complete inspiration for Sweet Effort. It’s one of my favorite combinations, with Altos tequila and Danish rhubarb.

Why are the details so important—not only to making drinks, but also when it comes to the customer-service experience?

Details make all the difference. To an untrained eye, their absence might be hard to catch, but they’re what pushes things from good to amazing. That said, there is no one single way to provide a good customer-service experience. But as long as you put your heart and soul into what you do—without being a snot about it—you’re on the road to success.

Why is important to anticipate guest needs? And how you do it? 

It’s a great way to make sure you’ll never be in awkward situations with customers. You might not need to have everything they want—or think they want—but as long as you’re on top of your business, and know what your take is, you’ve got an explanation for your guest, plus maybe a plan B, and that’s half the battle right there.

3 things that you didn´t know about Jeppe

1. I love hugs (!)

2. I originally thought to follow in my parents’ footsteps. They’re both chefs and I always romanticized the lifestyle. Even though I know I’m not going to be a chef—in this life, at least—my love for cooking persists and I cook at home whenever I can.

3. If you put a gun to my head and made me pick just one favorite dish, it would be chicken and waffles. It makes me feel silly—but I just can’t give a damn that this ended up my top choice among all the great food I’ve eaten. The little-boy Jeppe would be proud of me.+

Our other 2017 winners:

The International Tahona Society Cocktail Competition 2017 2nd place winner Egor Kozlovski

Egor Koslovski

Age: 27
Hometown: Kiev

Where are you working these days?
Kew London, Minsk.

Winning cocktail: The El Dorado

What was the creative process?

I was looking to put a twist on a classic Paloma without wrecking the structure. Plus all the ingredients I found were classic Mexican, which tapped into the contest’s local-sustainability requirement. It led to a peach shrub with a citrus-mix and cocoa-bean soda. They combine in a seltzer bottle, along with the tequila; then you serve it as a fizzy drink.

How did you become a bartender?

I started as a coat-check guy in a restaurant, then applied to be bartender. Cocktail culture was just coming into its own in Belarus so I started as a bar-back, then moved up to full bartender and bar manager. And this year, a dream come true: opening my own bar, inspired by the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in England.

What’s your style behind the bar?

Share and care; really make an effort help every customer.

Your favorite cocktail?

Daiquiris and margaritas. Easy to make—and easier to drink.

Your idea of the perfect cocktail?

Everything depends on your mood, the place, the time of the year and, of course, personal taste. Guests drink sweeter, stronger drinks in winter; pick fresher options in summer.

Where do you get inspired?

In the kitchen—or working with chefs.

What’s your favorite ingredient?

Vodka. Because it’s neutral, it’s easy to jazz up with herbs, citrus, berries, etc.

And the handiest barware?

Jiggers—I totally love them!

Five things you didn’t know about Egor

   1.- He doesn’t like sleeping on freshly laundered sheets.
   2.- In summer, no toweling off after showers—air-dry only.
   3.- He’s mad for buttered, salted ciabattas and oolong tea with plenty of milk.
   4.- He claims to know nothing about wine but loves pairing Mexican oysters with Riesling.
   5.- He happens to be lightweight when it comes to drinking.

Ana Milena Alzate

Age: 36
Hometown: Bogotá

Where are you working these days?
At my own place, The Bar Club.

Winning cocktail: The Feisty Past

What was the creative process?

I started with a basic shaken mix, then added some “Mexican magic” by building mole-poblano-flavored candy screens that stood behind the glass like an Olmec head.

How did you become a bartender?

I used to work on Royal Caribbean cruises—as a cocktail waitress—but I fell in love with bartending.

What’s your style behind the bar?

A creative, gastro-mixology lover.

Your favorite cocktail?

Simple drinks, like gin-and-tonics.

Your idea of the perfect cocktail?

A balanced mix where you can taste all the ingredients.

Where do you get inspired?


What’s your favorite ingredient?

Tequila! It’s versatile and delicious.

And the handiest barware?

Bar spoons. You need them all the time!

Five more things you didn’t know about Ana Milena 

   1.- She’s a great cook who’s super creative in the kitchen.
   2.- She loves traveling all over the world.
   3.- She’s an inveterate shopaholic.
   4.- She’s mad for time at the gym.
   5- Her secret hobby is…playing Dungeons and Dragons.

The International Tahona Society Cocktail Competition 2017 joint 3rd place winner A.J. Snetler

A.J. Snetler

Age: 28
Home country: South Africa

Where are you working these days?
I’m National Brand Ambassador at Truman & Orange.

Winner cocktail: The Tokolosh

What was the creative process?

You’ve got to find the right flavors—the ones nearby, in your environment—and use them as a competitive edge.

How did you become a bartender?

It comes from my love of people, hospitality and creating great drinks.

What’s your style behind the bar?

Maybe some say I look a little rough-around-the-edges, at first…but get to know me and you’ll see I’m all fun—and love.

Your favorite cocktail?

I love a good negroni or paloma. The perfect cocktail is all about balance!

Where do you get inspired?

From the everyday, farmers’ markets… Anything fresh, anything local, anything that’s trying to “say something.”

What’s your favorite ingredient?

I love using peppers with fresh, beautiful flavors.

Your favorite barware?

Definitely my tins. 

More you didn’t know about A.J.

   1.- He loves collecting aprons.
   2.- Can’t stop gunning that Harley.
   3.- Total softie when it comes to animals.
   4.- Always ready to hit the great outdoors.