Tell us a little about the history of Istanbul’s drinking culture.
Islam has continued to affect the use of liquor in Turkey, but alcohol use dates back to the ancient times.
How have restrictions on alcohol in Turkey impacted your work?
Restrictions on alcohol in Turkey have always had an impact although, unofficially, a part of the population was against them. However, this did not prevent the development of a culture.
Although alcohol has not specifically been prohibited in recent times, we sometimes have difficulty finding products as bartenders. But it helps us to have to overcome these issues so we develop ourselves more. People continue to buy alcohol, and especially cocktails have been produced at the highest level in the past few years.
Which cocktails are popular in Istanbul?
Turkish bartenders are following world trends very closely. So lately Negroni, Manhattan and other old classics have been very popular.
Who and what are the pioneer bartenders and bars?
I have to say that there are many cocktail bars which have opened in Istanbul recently and many are nice. One of them is called Escale bar, managed by Cevat Yildirim, my mentor, and I owe him a lot. He is one of Istanbul’s most established mixologists.
Who do bartenders look to for inspiration outside of Turkey?
Certainly David Rios. He was Diageo Reserve World Class 2013 global champion and his techniques gained worldwide recognition. How to answer the question must be to look at a bartender’s personality. Mixologists look to examples of Istanbul bartenders with entertaining personalities. Other than that, World Class founder Barrie Wilson.
What are the challenges the city’s cocktail scene faces?
The most difficult issue we face as bartenders is prejudice, but that has been broken in recent years and people have started to look at this work as a professional career.