Meeting the Cocktail Master

Having just won a Silver medal in the World Cocktail Championships, Eddie Rudzinskas talks to Vanessa Brady about the awards, his top tips for making a cocktail and how he got to where he is today.The Irish cocktail world received a massive boost last month thanks to Monaghan-based bartender Eddie Rudzinskas, who represented Ireland in the World Cocktail Championships. At the 2014 championships, which took place in Cape Town, Rudzinskas impressively walked away with a Silver Medal.When talking to Rudzinskas about his work his clear passion for drinks concoction shines through. The bartender, from the Four Seasons Hotel & Leisure Centre in Monaghan, has clear plans for the coming months after his win saying he is “… going to improve his craft even more and keep doing what [I] love to do.”Getting involved in the bartending industry is something many people accomplish but few truly succeed in competitively. Rudzinskas has worked in the bar trade since he was 17 and then over the years he has acquired the necessary skills of cocktail making. It wasn’t until later on that he realised his potential and his love for making cocktails. He explains “I don't know, I started working in the bar from 17 and I didn't think I could make a career out of it. Then over the last five years I began to look at it more seriously because I was still in the bar so I just wanted to see how I could make cocktails better. I started learning about the history of the drinks and cocktails and all the rest.”Rudzinskas qualified for the prestigious World Cocktail Championships after finishing 1st at the National Cocktail Competition that took place at the Food & Beverage Live 2014 Exhibition in City West earlier this year. Following Rudzinskas’ win President of the Bartenders Association of Ireland, Declan Byrne, said “Eddie Rudzinskas is an exceptional bartender. Eddie has worked tirelessly to perform at his best on the greatest bartender’s stage in the world. He was focused and dedicated.”On the judging process for the World Championships Rudzinkas explains that there are several judges to decide on the varying skills of garnishing, mixing, creating an aroma, overall appearance and hygiene.With such a rigid process in the competition Rudzinskas had been practising and preparing for the championship since he won the Irish National Championships. He explains that the last few months were difficult for him as he worked very hard saying “I became focused and practiced my routine.”For the competition Rudzinskas made his specialty ‘Molly Mia’ (see cocktail recipe below) and his drink and performance clearly impressed the judges. When it comes to making the perfect cocktail Rudzinskas always endeavours to ask the customer a few questions like what taste they like and what they dislike, “… for the simple reason that if you put coconut into a cocktail and the customer doesn’t like coconut, the customer won’t like the drink.” Rudzinkas has one ultimate tip for those hoping to make their own cocktails and that is practice. “You have to want to make a drink. The rest of it comes with practice.”Rudzinskas goes on to remark that a cocktail doesn’t have to be all fancy with ingredients you’ve never heard of. It can be as simple as a Gin and Tonic or something like a Cuba Libre, (which is Coke, fresh lemon juice and rum.) Rudzinskas’ remarkable achievement on the world cocktail stage highlights the sheer talent that is present in the Bartender’s Association of Ireland (BAI) and certainly bodes well for the future of the drinks-making industry in this country. Eddie will undoubtedly continue shaking it up in an area where he is evidently talented – next year’s World Cocktail Championship’s in Sofia, Bulgaria are already firmly in his sights.The Molly Mia Ingredients: MethodAll ingredients are shaken with ice in a cocktail shaker and served in a long glass. Decorated the drink with cuts of lemon, lime, orange, beetroot & rhubarb.