Samet Ali is a bartender at Oriole in London. He makes us two cocktails, one with Vodka and Rye Whiskey and the second with Cognac and Northern White Cedar Bitters.
Samet introduce yourself
My name is Samet Ali and I’m from Bulgaria. I started bartending for fun, but was more attracted to architecture because I was studying arts at high school. But, as is often the case, I fell in love with the industry and I’ve now been working in it for the last 12 years. After a few years in Bulgaria, I moved abroad to work on a cruise ship, but it was not for me, and I decided I wanted to focus more on craft cocktails, so I went back to Sofia. I participated in the World Class in 2016 and won it for Bulgaria, which took me to the global final in Miami where I met my future boss. My brother was already working in Oriole for the same group and a few months after World Class there was an opening position at NightJar in London. Eight months ago, another position opened in Oriole, and my brother and I had always wanted to work together, so I took it. Working together was a challenge in the beginning because we had different backgrounds regarding our bar training, but we’ve found the same line and style, which you can see on our new menu at Oriole bar, which we worked on together.
The classic you want to show us
22.5 ml of Vodka
22.5ml of Rye Whiskey
30ml of Menengic Coffee
30ml of Homemade Coffee Liqueur
10ml of Maple syrup
The bar you dream of
My dream bar would be a small, intimate place that had a short menu of drinks with a modern approach. Just like here at Oriole, I’d have some live music and a kitchen, which would serve small bites, that matched the style of the cocktails. I’d like to open a bar in Sofia, so we could share with our guests and colleague’s our experience and knowledge from London. I’d also like to open one here in London, because in my opinion, it’s the capital of our industry. I just came back from Singapore,and I fell in love with the bar scene there as well and I think it’s a place worth considering. So why not open one in each city.
What do you do in your time off
I love hanging out with my girl and because she’s from the industry too, we enjoy exploring the city’s best bars and places to eat. I also work on new ideas for drinks in my spare time.
The spirit you like the most
I am more into gin. I enjoy bitterness too, so a good Negroni is my kind of a drink. But I won’t turn back an Old Fashioned or a Daiquiri.
What makes a good cocktail
Balance is key, but also an element of surprise, like unusual flavour combinations, glassware and garnish.
What ingredient do you enjoy using in cocktails
I love geranium, it’s common in my country. You can use it in a cordials or infusions, even in pickles. I like fragrance and drinks with floral notes in general.
The signature cocktail you want to show us
30ml of Cognac
15ml of Rye Whiskey
30ml of Ontario Leaf Aperitif
7.5ml of Homemade Juneberry Vermouth
3 dashes of Northern White Cedar Bitters
Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender
You must visit our colleagues in Nightjar here in London. Then Native, they were great hosts and Operation Dagger, both in Singapore.