GABRIELA MIJAS, THE FLAIR BARTENDER THAT EVERY BAR WOULD LIKE TO HAVE.

Sanz Cocktails ·

Gabriela Mijasis a “cocktail of characteristics” worthy of admiration. Among the ingredients of this mix, you can find talents such as: Cocktail creator, nimble at flair, sporty, genuine, restless, adorably friendly, helpful, a top host and many more. She runs Bar Nicolásin the centre of Palma de Mallorca where there is always “Life”, and is also one of the founders of Mallorca Flair Room,a social club for bartenders where in addition to working on flair you can also get training.

In this interview we did with her, the answers she gives convey the great charisma that really defines her.

Discover it below:

What got you definitively hooked on this profession? Can you remember any specific moment?

  • After working in the hospitality industry as a waitress between the ages of 16 and 19, I began in a café in the centre of Madrid, in Sol, where I worked with two Italian colleagues. One normal day, one of them, in order to serve a cocktail in a special way, stacked up three glasses on top of each other and made them balance. It may seem insignificant but at that moment I was surprised by the large amount of things that I could offer the world of cocktail making and I decided to look for a school in order to begin learning.
  • It was at TG Fridays, a Hard Rock Café style bar. I was undertaking training on the cocktail making course and at the same time I got a flair course. At this bar during a Happy Hour I met my great friend Cristina after a flair class. Enjoying the atmosphere in the bar, the way of working, the good vibes… I think that all of that made me completely fall in love with the profession that, to this day, I continue to work in very happily.

Your first cocktail?

  • After finishing my courses, I sent out CVs. I began my career as a bartender in a bar in the centre of Madrid, and no matter how ironic it may now seem, I must confess that my first cocktail as a bartender was a Mojito.

 

A memorable competition that you have participated in:

  • Undoubtedly, the competitions organised by Hard Rock Café. Specifically, the ones in Panama and Orlando. In these competitions there was a lot of focus on the bartenders and not so much on the paraphernalia that is now seen at some competitions which are more focused on the brand and not the people competing. Also, the competitions encompassed very diverse aspects such as Speed, Speed Round, the Pour Test, Showmanship (flair aspect), Knowledge, Basic Flair Round, Uniform, etc.

 

A competition that you would like to participate in:

  • I think it would be the World Class. It is a very complete competition where I think I could display the different facets of my work and everything they encompass.

 

What is the potential of female bartenders / flair barwomen at present?

  • It is fantastic to see a woman behind the bar and the fact that she can become “the boss”, as in the (not so distant) past, it was very hard for a woman to be the “head” of a bar team. At present, this profession is still sadly dominated by men, but I believe that, over time and with the development of society this is something that will gradually be replicated and grow exponentially until we end up becoming truly equal in the workplace. This should always have been the case but due to circumstances that are beyond our control, it had still not been the case in this world.

 

Is it easy to get into the flair world?

  • Wow! Good question! I think that it is easy if you have desire and it is what you really want to do because as in any area of life, it requires sacrifice and responsibilities that you must be willing to accept. The saying that “Where there’s a will there’s a way” is very applicable.

 

What is the signature cocktail of your life?

  • A beer and a shot of mezcal, the perfect combo!
  • But seriously, when in Miami, after doing the typical tourism for foreigners, I ended up in the Little Havana district, which didn´t offer an authentic atmosphere at all. After continuing to walk along, disappointed by what I saw, night fell and I received a message from Juan Coronado, a friend who works as a National Brand Ambassador at Bacardi. It was an invitation to go back to Little Havana. I decided to go back and I was surprised to see that the district had completely transformed in contrast to day time and the night had given way to music and a festive atmosphere. It was one of the best nights in Miami where I was welcomed with a cocktail: “El presidente”, made from rum, white vermouth, grenadine and curaçao. A fantastic drink that I have tried again in other places but it has never tasted the same. I think that it was a “Mix” of music, atmosphere, drinks and good company that made my experience unique.

 

Tell us, who is your benchmark in the liquid world…

  • I have a lot of benchmarks in the world of cocktail making: Simone Caporale, Mónica Berg, Julio Cabrera. They all embody creativity and flavour, I draw nourishment from all of them for my daily inspiration through their creations, their networks and their know-how. I couldn´t choose just one specifically as from one of them you can learn a new component in cocktail making and from another I would take their genuine style. I think that it is important to be clear about who can be a benchmark and who cannot, beyond picking just one. I love you all!

Advice for girls who want to make it far in the world of cocktail making/flair.

  • I would tell them that they should only do it if it what they really want it in the depths of their soul. It is a difficult world where people try to get ahead of you and even walk all over you sometimes, all of this requires a great commitment to the profession and an innate passion to devote yourself to it, my advice is: ONLYdevote yourself to this if it is what you really want.

A question that you would like to be asked about your profession.

  • If you were to be born again, what would you choose to be? I think that the answer is obvious…

 

The syrup flavour that you think should be on the market.

  • Taco!!! Tacos!!! Tacooooos!!! Can it be tacos?

Habits found among bartenders that you would wipe off the face of the earth.

I don´t clean because I am a bartender and I have a barback”, I hate that, I think that is the worst, if you are a bartender then you surely started as a barback, no? We are no better than anyone else, we all have to start somewhere. Currently, in Nicolás, the bar where I work, we all clean the bathrooms, stock the storerooms, wash up, sweep, etc… It isn´t beneath me to do it and it never will be.

 

Something vital and essential that a bar must have.

  • A beer tap for the end of the shift! But seriously, I think that what a bar must have, apart from the attitude of the team, is available space in it. If you have space, you have comfort. More people can get in to work, due to the visibility to clients and the organisation it allows, if the bar is spacious and organised, you create a very good image, but if you enter a bar where the bar space is small, the bartenders hit into one another and everything is disorderly, it is difficult to make a good impression and we all know that first impressions are very important.

An ingredient.

  • Lime, I love lime. It is a versatile ingredient that you can do thousands of things with, from eating lime with salt to making oil, it is very versatile and allows an endless number of creations.
Gabriela Mijas con el arte de tallar Hielo junto a Santi Ortiz de “33”.

 

A pairing.

  • The way that mezcal expands when you eat fruitis spectacular and very interesting for the palate. A part of the earthiness accompanies you from the palate to the throat where it completely explodes. It is simply amazing.

A technique.

  • Throwing is a technique that was created in Cuba, as ice was too expensive and it was the only wayto oxygenate and cool the cocktail. The process cools, it oxygenates and creates a unique composition. In my opinion, it is one of the best techniques, much better than the acclaimed Shake.

A book.

  • El Bar” (The Bar) which explains everything relating to this profession. From Aquavit to full-bodied wines. A book where you can learn so much, it is 800 pages long, it perfectly encompasses the content of the environment we operate in and how to learn from it.

Who would you love to make a cocktail for?

  • My grandmother. She has not had the chance to see absolutely any of my work. She lives in Ecuador and is elderly, a country woman like those of the past, she runs a farm in Ecuador, she milks cows, she harvests corn, and other admirable things. I would love to show her what her granddaughter has achieved after so many years through one of the cocktails.

 

What do your cocktails say about you?

  • My cocktails express affection for this profession. The cocktails I make for all the clients who visit the bar are cocktails made as if they were for me.

What do you think will be the next trends in the world of cocktail making?

  • Undoubtedly, it is Healthy living. People take better care of themselves, they don´t smoke, they watch what they eat and of course, what they drink. All of that makes me think that things are heading in that direction, cocktails with a low alcohol content, with few calories, that are as harmless as possible to health.

What distinguishes Bar Nicolás from other places.

  • Life. Nicolás is a place with its own life, the location, the people who work there, our clients. All of that creates a unique atmosphere. For example, the people who are on our terrace, once they enter the bar, they stay there, they don´t leave the entire night. We also add the fun of our bartenders, their ability to make people laugh and share unique moments with our guests, that is what distinguishes Nicolásfrom other bars in Palma de Mallorca.

*Photos by Bar Nicolás and Gabriela Mijas.

*Interview by Aurora Lorente [@agenthink.socialmedia] for  Jarabes Sanz.

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