Interview with Julia Diakow

julia diakow inter

Bartender | Cuchillo | Vancouver

Julia Diakow is a bartender at Cuchillo in Railtown as well as a Bartender at Reflections in the Rosewood Hotel Georgia. By day she is the Sales and Marketing Manager for Sovereign Wine and Spirits Ltd. She made some of her new favourite cocktails with recipes. You can follow Julia on twitter @JDiakow

How did you end up becoming a Bartender?

I was serving at Earls at the time, and I think I simply just wanted to be one of the cool girls behind the bar, so I jumped at the opportunity when asked to move up.

What are some of the unique cocktails your customers have asked you to make?

What’s the cheapest way to get drunk the fastest…and make it blue.

What was your training like and how long have you been in this industry?

I’ve been in the hospitality industry since 15 and bartending since 19. All of it was self taught through how-to books until I started bartending with The Donnelly Group. From then on, there was always help from my fellow mentors like Trevor Kallies, Donnie Wheeler and coworkers. And now, at 23, it’s much easier to seek information through groups like the CPBA and Maison Pernod Ricard.

What goes into creating a new cocktail? What inspires you?

I like to take a lot of inspiration from cooking, recipe pairings and using what is in season. As for creating new cocktails, if you imagine a set of ingredients going well together on paper, it will no doubt taste just as well when you mix them together. Balance is key though.

Tell our readers about your recent trip to Europe, what types of cocktails did you enjoy? Will this trip influence the cocktails you create in the near future?

All in all, Europe was a whirlwind adventure. I think, my boss John Cooper summed it up perfectly upon seeing my pictures: “A lot of booze and buildings.” Although I took in more Real Ales and cider than cocktails per se, what I saw of the bar scene was extremely progressive. Every town seemed to be known for making their own speciality liquor or ale. I recommend trying every type of Palinka when in Budapest. That stuff is the best! And yes, by all means, it will continue to inspire me!

You also visited Mexico recently specifically the Oaxaca area, tell our readers what types of spirits you discovered in this region?

We drank a lot of Mezcal…a lot! But there is also so much more to discover in Oaxaca. I think almost more fascinating than the different spirits we tried, is the amount of amazing and fresh ingredients that they’re using in their bar scene. We spent many afternoons at the market picking fruits, vegetables and spices to use in cocktails. It was such an incredible experience.

Tell me about your fascination with Mezcal?

I love how diverse Mezcal is. The fact that, much like grapes, there are so many factors that can affect the outcome of this spirit. On top of that, the taste range can go from light and floral, to hazelnut chocolate to hickory smoked barbecue. It’s versatile in cocktails and on its own.

What is your philosophy on food and drinks?

Farm to Bar! Do everything you can to get your hands on locally sourced fresh ingredients, and if you can grow them, even better.

What are some current trends you’ve seen in the cocktail market?

I’ve seen some really fantastic trends lately; such as carbonated cocktails, smoked EVERYTHING, table side service, and bartenders getting creative with as nerdy as it sounds, ice.

What type of drinks do you like personally?

Anything that takes an interesting twist on a classic. I’m always in the mood for a nice Mezcal Last Word or a Tequila 20thCentury.

If you weren’t a bartender, what would you be doing?

Probably working on the Sunshine Coast with a forestry company.

What are the most unique ingredients you have used to create a cocktail?

I’ve been doing a few side projects with O5 Tea in Kits lately and have had the great opportunity to work with a variety of different teas, some extremely rare and my new favourite trend being fermented tea.

What is your favourite cocktail personally?

Nothing beats a gin & tonic.

By: Richard Wolak