Not only when it comes to the craft of creating well balanced drinks, but the social aspects of it all as well. He is passionate about the art of understanding his guests and giving them memorable experiences through his cocktails and hospitality. Watching bartenders work always impressed him, and after his time in the military, he decided to take on the bartending path. Today he tends bar at Rob Roy Seattle, a sexy mid-century cocktail lounge that delivers amazing hospitality. Guests are served beautiful cocktails that highlight the classics with the scientific and artistic approach of the modern bartender.
Chilled had the pleasure of chatting with Skondin to learn more about his journey and skillset, along with what advice he has to offer novice bartenders.
Who has been most influential in your development as a bartender?
Wow, what a big question. There is so much I can say about this. Totally a few mentors out there but I would say it’s not really one or two people, it’s this amazing community that I am so thankful to be a part of. I have learned so much from the Seattle bar community and I am continually learning and being inspired by those here. There are veteran bartenders I have learned by watching or getting to know, there are new bartenders that are asking questions or trying new things that inspire me to learn more and keep me invested. I learn not only bartending things from them all but also, I am always learning how to grow as a person as well. I don’t only just learn from this community but when I’ve had my butt kicked by a job or a hard go at something it’s them that has kept me at it. Without that drive and support I wouldn’t have a career as a bartender.
Do you have any advice for novice or at home bartenders?
For those novice bartenders, keep trying, find the bartender that inspires you and go sit at their bar. Watch how they bartend, watch how they carry themselves in the bar, how they interact with guests. Ask questions when it’s appropriate. You’re not going to know all the answers right away, that’s ok. Try out for competitions, we all still learn something every competition. Most importantly have fun!
How do you go about creating a cocktail? Is there a specific process or simply a moment of inspiration?
Sometimes it’s a certain focus on a menu, it’s a flavor I am in love with, or perhaps a texture in a cocktail I want to hone in on and explore more. Sometimes it’s an accident and sometimes it’s a small tweak on a classic to make it special and it comes out way better than I could have expected. I try not to be too rigid in this process since I don’t want to restrict my imagination or creativity.
What is your favorite ingredient right now and why?
A blueberry turmeric shrub I made for a competition and didn’t use. I toss it in my drinks at home and it can really make anything taste great. It’s even awesome on a bowl of ice cream.
Where do you see the bartending/cocktail culture headed?
Bartending has always had this heir of gate keeping and inner circle behavior and I see that going away, I see the future really being more inclusive and respected. More people are understanding that it is a real career and giving more weight and respect to those who are dedicated to the craft of bartending.