Tony Abou-Ganim & Adam Seger: On Vodka, Vermouth, and Cocktail Culture in Russia
|Courtesy of Adam Seger and AZ Cocktail Week|
Founder/mixologist of Hum Spirits Company, Adam Seger -- a certified culinary professional as well as a Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced Sommelier -- has been called "The Charlie Trotter of Cocktails" for his chef's approach to bartending. Based in Chicago, he is currently expanding his line of cocktail bitters and working on a book entitled Drink Like You Eat: 40 Cocktails From the Garden to the Glass.
Tell us about presenting cocktails for the Russian Cocktail Club in Moscow. Who even knew they had a cocktail club in Moscow?: Well, Russia is a country of extremes -- extreme poverty and more billionaires per capita than any other country in the world. It's always been a drinking culture, but right now, cocktails are really hot. Bek Narzi, a Russian bartender who worked in many prestigious bars in London at the peak of its cocktail culture renaissance, founded the club (composed of mixologists) in 2008 to develop the bar industry in Russia. He brings in guest bartenders once a month. Because his background is London (which is very progressive) and Japan (which is still very ceremonial), he brings the best of both cultures together. Narzi became fascinated with our culture at Tales of the Cocktail and invited me to be his first American guest. Nearly everything but beets and potatoes is imported there. I brought fresh herbs, teas, citrus and other fruits.
London has been the trend-setting seat of the world's cocktail culture. How did that happen?: During Prohibition, the top U.S. bartenders went to Europe, and we had 13-14 years of bootleg booze and bathtub gin. Europe got ahead of us. As a culture, England has never been afraid of alcohol, and London is the financial center of Europe. To be a barman in London right now is like being a chef in France.