Javier Quiñones is the man behind the bar at Tepic, and he has elevated it into a more complete space where the level of offerings in mixology is on par with their offerings in gastronomy.
After a couple years learning alongside a nationally known mentor, Patxi Troitiño, he decided to settle in Madrid and give free rein to his talent, innate friendliness, and work.
How and when did you start in the world of bartending?
I found my start in mixology at a professional level on an unexpected trip to Donosti. Since I was there, I decided to go to Stick Cocktails, a bar that I had really wanted to visit. There, I met Patxi Troitiño by chance, found his books, and began to become more curious. We connected well, and he gave me the opportunity to learn there. During all the years I was there, I met fantastic people and discovered a new style of life. The Stick Cocktail will always be my home, wherever I am!
Do you remember where you had your first cocktail? Do you remember what it was?
I had only recently turned 18 when I started working at the Hostal el Anón. There I started to take my first steps with the hospitality industry. We had to make mojitos for 50 guests. I never, and I mean never, had made a cocktail! That night I didn’t stop making them.
Who are your Spanish mentors behind the bar? And international mentors? Tell us about bartenders.
My mentors at a national level are Patxi Troitiño, which whom I began to discover the more beautiful side of the profession, Marc Álvarez, Javier Caballero, Javier Pulido and Miki de la Torre.
At an international level I like many people, but to name a few of them, I’d go with Marian Beke, Charles Joly and Christian Delpech.
How would you define your style of mixology?
I consider myself a very classic bartender, although people always tell me I’m not. I suppose that would be because I love to continue learning new techniques, flavors and interpretations every day.
What’s your favorite cocktail to drink? And to make?
I love Margaritas, Daiquiris, the Rob Roy and the Negroni, among many others, depending on the time of day I’m drinking it.
And to prepare, I love the Old Fashioned and the Dry Martini. They’re cocktails that take time, and always reflect the care you put into them.
What is, for you, your profession all about?
It’s a way of life, you have to feel it to be able to live it. You have something that other professions don’t have: you’re happy every minute you dedicate to it. And like with all jobs, there are good days and bad days, but the satisfaction it gives you — it’s priceless.
What qualities does a bartender need to have to be complete?
I think that a complete bartender doesn’t exist — there are always new things to learn. For me, the qualities that stand out are: passion for the profession, that’s always reflected in the work; knowledge of the products (distillations, blends, flavors…), the ability to manage the paperwork of the bar and get along well with customers, making them feel like they’re at home, among many other things.
What do you have to focus on to know what your customer wants to drink?
The first conversation. Until you have the first bit of contact, you can’t take anything for granted. Today, you can be surprised by what they’re going to drink. Every day, the subjects are more obsolete — the clients are always more demanding, they have more knowledge, and they know what they want. That’s what we love.
What bartending book that you’ve read recently do you recommend?
The books I’ve read recently are Liquid Intelligence and Bar Chef. They’re completely different concepts, but I recommend them 100 percent for the knowledge they’ll give you at the level of techniques, flavors, and philosophy.
If you had to pick just one, what trend will 2017 bring us?
We’re in the boom of taking care of the product from the start. The production of brands of liquors, distillations, bitters, etc. made with care from their origin: premium ingredients, distillation, preparation, bottling, etc. The “homemade” production, to be able to make these aspects stand out in every product we use them in. In the future we’ll find great products that will help us take another leap forward in quality, being able to offer the best to our customers.
Interview conducted by Mauri Jiménez
Photos: Marcos Ortiz