I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve always been a bit of a fan of Bond movies. The action, the cheesy dialogues, the exclusive lifestyle… It’s all there to be admired every four years, give or take. Just yesterday, the next Bond film ran into a massive obstacle when Danny Boyle quit the project citing creating differences so that means we will have to wait a bit more than usual for 007 to be back.
But fear not, because right now in Buenos Aires, we might have the next best thing: one of the best bartenders in the world, former head of the prestigious American Bar at the Savoy in London, and real-life consultant for the 2012 Bond flick Skyfall. He will be guest bartending at both Uptown and Nicky Harrison this week. His name? Call him Lorincz. Erik Lorincz
To get a glimpse into who Erik Lorincz is, during his time at the Savoy, the bar was awarded the title of World’s Best Bar 2017 at World’s 50 Best Bars. Lorincz was nominated for International Bartender of the Year at Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Awards in 2017 and won Diageo’s World Class contest a few years back. In March, he announced he was leaving the Savoy to soon open his own bar with the help of an investor and business partner.
“My place will reflect a lot the way how I see drinks, how I combine flavors, the way I want to present my drinking culture to the audience,” Lorincz explains. “I worked at a very classic bar for many years, so people ask me if it’s going to be a classic bar but I don’t really want to copy and paste what I’ve done. I want to do something a little surprising, so that people will say ‘oh, I wasn’t expecting this from you.’”
This is Erik’s second visit to the Argentine capital, and this time around he’s keen on finding out how the bartending scene has evolved in the four years since he came here to judge the Tia María competition. “The bartending business is progressing here, it’s happening, it’s changing. I can see that people are interested about doing things better. Last time I came I only went to Florería Atlántico and Nicky Harrison, which were both great but I’m really excited to go back and see what they’ve done since.”
This time around, his visit coincides with a Latin American tour that has taken him to Lima and Santiago de Chile before arriving in Buenos Aires. His craft has allowed him to travel all over the world and he has come quite adept at absorbing a bit from each experience and incorporating it into his craft. “Back in the day I learned a lot from Japan, for example. How they were approaching bartending with amazing techniques, amazing bar tools. They’re very focused on perfection, simple but perfect. It’s all about exploring, seeing new things, new ingredients, new flavors, new ways of thinking.”
So what exactly has he learned from this trip to South America? For starters, he’s a strong believer in local bartenders being creative in exploiting their own ingredients and products, something he sometimes feels is missing in this region. “I know it’s hard to travel in Latin America because it’s very far and it’s very expensive but you can read books, educate yourself in many different ways so you can follow trends in Europe, and try to recreate them but always trying to add your own touch because here there are lots of ingredients we don’t have over there so you can make your drinks very unique and local.”
Nonetheles, he’s impressed by Latin American creativity in the kitchen and cites an experience he had at world famous Peruvian restaurant Central as a prime example: “They served me a dish with frozen piraña heads which looked insane It’s just a simple thing. Instead of throwing away the heads and tails they just just freeze them and serve [the food on top of] it. So I’m eating it and just rubbing my hands and saying ‘ok, this is great and now I have to find a way to use this idea in the cocktail bar.’ Obviously, not with a fish head but with something else.”
As a rule of thumb, he’s quick to point out a couple of tips that, as simple as they seem, are behind his massively successful career so far. One is to remember that, when it comes to cocktails, taste is still king. “The biggest problem is that bartenders go to this stage of using weird ingredients and complex techniques, but when you taste the drinks they aren’t very satisfying, they’re missing something. So I think that’s when the job is done. You can find that rare ingredient and find what you want to do with it, but once you taste it, it has to be good. Then and only then is it finished.”
The other tip has to do with simplicity. We live in an age in which everything, especially food and cocktails, tends to be judged on how “Instagrammable” it is. Even though looks are important, Erik is believes the emphasis should be placed elsewhere. “I think people should spend more time in the prep area working on the perfect elements, ingredients, techniques, and flavors. The drink should come out very neat. It does have to have garnish but there is so much behind it that it should inherently have a wow factor. The next level is to make drinks look so simple but still standing out. Very minimalistic yet perfect. That’s what I like to see.”
Erik will be tending bar at the Harrison Speakeasy tonight, August 22nd, from 10 PM until midnight.