During one of our recent trip to the Phuket old town, we had the opportunity to sit down and discuss with Alex Poltavskiy, Owner and Mixologist at the Gardens Gastronomy Bar, located on Phang Nga Road.
Tell us a bit more about yourself; how did you become a mixologist?
I started bartending about 9 years ago. I’m originally from Kazakhstan, but moved to Russia to study at the university, so I was looking for a way to make some extra money and found a job in a nightclub. I worked there for about two years. My interest in mixology grew up, but there was no real opportunity working at a nightclub, as most drinks are really basic to make. I found another venue which provided me with more training, but was still treated as a regular nightclub bartender. This is when I decided to move to South-East Asia and start everything from scratch.
I found a bar in Phuket Town and started to help the guys there and spend more time with cocktails. I also joined every single competition I could to challenge myself and practice more. Then I came up with the idea that I wanted to have my own bar so me and my friend decided to open our own place and that was the beginning of Gardens Gastronomy Bar.
Why did you choose South-East Asia?
Moving to Asia has made me from a bartender to a mixologist because there are more products available than in Russia. For example, right now, 40% of the bottles we are using are not available in Russia because of their laws and regulations. It was easier also to buy the equipment, such as smoking guns, to create better cocktails, both visually and from a taste perspective.
What is the secret of a great cocktail?
To me, cocktails do not have to be complicated, but it is important to understand how every single ingredient works. I’ve been working every day, trying to understand the unique flavors of each ingredient, and how well they can be mixed with each other. If only one component doesn’t go well, the whole cocktail will have the wrong taste. I like to go to the local market at least once a month and buy some products I am not yet used to, and see how I could incorporate them into my creations.
What do you think of the mixology culture in Phuket, or in South-East Asia in general?
Mixology has become a huge trend in Phuket. Since last year, I’ve counted more than three cocktail bars opening in Phuket Town. We are trying to elevate Phuket on the mixology scene, as it is great already for food and the atmosphere. Similar with South-East Asia, I travel a lot across Asia to understand the culture of each country.
How did you come up with the name “Garden Gastronomy Bar” and what makes it special?
My partner lived in Siberia, a place where it is difficult to find fresh plants and flowers. Seeing how easy it was in Phuket, we decided to name our place Garden Gastronomy Bar. We could see from the beginning that there was not a lot of rooftop bar in Phuket Town, so we decided to open one. Our building is a 4-story building, with each floor having a different concept, always under the garden theme.
The first floor is the tropical garden, with a large bar counter, as we encourage our guests to sit up at the bar and discuss with the mixologists. The second floor is the city garden, where we have our stage with our live band and a nice balcony. The third floor is called the backyard, as you can see the open kitchen from here and have a look at what the Chefs are cooking. Finally, we have the rooftop bar on the last floor, surrounded by fresh plants to keep in mind the garden feeling.
What cocktails should we order at your venue?
We can create almost any cocktails you can think of, as we have gathered a nice collection of liquors from all around the world. We even have great selection of whiskies and rums for you to enjoy with a nice cigar on the balcony. My personal favorite cocktail is the Old Fashion, but there are hundreds for you to try!