We asked Costas Nicolaides, a certified bartending trainer and the founder of the Alchemy Bartending School in Limassol, about the story of how the school that offers professional bartender courses was founded and about his favorite local venues.
Shakers Moving Bar or how it all got started
Shakers Moving Bar started as a hobby. Around 2009 I won many cocktail competitions and championships, and friends used to ask me all the time to make private cocktail parties at their houses. At the same time I started private bartending lessons at home. In 2010 I won 2nd place in the World Championship ‘Finlandia Vodka Cup’, and that’s when it all started. After this amazing success I decided to turn my hobby into a profession and opened a bartending school and a bar catering company. Both companies are successful and growing each year.
The decision to open the school
15 years ago I came back from my studies in Germany, full of passion and eager to share my knowledge, but soon became very disappointed with the very low level of bartending in Cyprus and ‘I know it all’ unprofessional attitude among locals. After working in few hotels as a Bar Manager, and later as a F&B Manager, I realized that it’s almost impossible to implement new ideas and change the old stiff ways. So I decided to take it into my own hands and improve the level of bartending through bartending courses for individuals and training seminars for hotels and bars.
Alchemy Bartending School is approved by Cyprus government (HRDA – Human Resources Authority of Cyprus) as an educational institution in the hospitality industry. The proof of our high standard is our wide clientele of 5* hotels all over Cyprus, such as Amathus Hotel, Four Seasons, Londa Hotel, Kanika Hotels, Columbia Resort, Columbia Beach, Radisson Blu, Grecian Park Hotel, Do Wine Bar, Lighthouse, etc.
The training process
We train around 200 bartenders per year. Most of them are from Cyprus, or foreigners living in Cyprus, but we have also students coming from all over the world, especially for the advanced mixology classes. For example from Greece, USA, Egypt, Finland, New Zealand, Lebanon. The basic modules are:
Bartending course Level 1 – for beginners; basic knowledge of spirits, wine, beer, classic cocktails, and lot of practice.
Bartending course Level 2 [Mixology] – for bartenders with some working experience who want to progress in their career as a bartender; modern mixology techniques, creating homemade products such us liqueurs, syrups, fruit purees, infusions, recreating classic cocktails (twisted classics) with different techniques, speed bartending, advanced product knowledge.
Level 3 [Advanced Mixology] – for professional bartenders who want to take their knowledge to the next level, attend cocktail competitions, or even to become Head Bartenders; more advanced mixology techniques, such as molecular mixology, use of liquid nitrogen, clarification; matching ingredients and creating your own signature cocktails; advanced spirit tasting.
Level 4 [The Alchemist] – the graduate of this course — ‘The Alchemist’ — is a professional bartender with a Head Barman position, who is mastering all the above, and will be able to create a Bar Menu & his own Signature Cocktail Recipes, and is ready to lead a team of bartenders.
Level 5 [Bar Management] – for professional bartenders / head bartenders who want to step up to the managerial level. We’ll teach them how to manage a bar from A to Z, covering all the financial and management aspects, such as planning, organizing, recruiting, evaluating and controlling.
Barista Course – for beginners or bartenders who want to improve their skills on coffee preparation, tea, hot & cold chocolate beverages, and want to work as Baristas in a café.
Flair Bartending Course – for bartenders who want to add some flair and showmanship to their bartending routine.
After successfully passing the exams, they are ready to work behind a bar or become Head Bartenders, Bar Managers, or even open their own bars, or to work in the spirit industry as brand ambassadors. We have many examples of our students being very successful in their industry, some of them even won several cocktail competitions, and few who are now successful bar owners.
We provide bar consulting from A to Z to businesses in the hospitality industry, such as hotels, bars, restaurants, cafes, from the architecture design of the bars, to menu creation, costing & cost analysis, budgeting, to staff training and evaluation.
We provide fully stocked moving bars & bartending service for weddings, private parties, corporate parties and shop openings, also cocktail masterclasses for team-building activities, bachelor parties etc.
We have a small showroom and online shop with all the professional bar tools & equipment for bartenders and home bars.
The top 5 bars in Cyprus according to Costas:
- Old Market (Larnaca)
- Muse Café в (Paphos)
- Madam Cocktail Bar (Limassol)
- Columbia Beach Bar (Limassol)
- Lighthouse (Limassol)
- Lost & Found (Nicosia)
- Palia Pineza (Nicosia)
Some of these bars are our clients, but all of them have a few things in common which make them exceptional — a cozy place with atmosphere, nice music or a nice view, an innovative cocktail menu with tasty cocktails using fresh and homemade ingredients, and continuous training, research and development.
PHOTO CREDIT: Alchemy Bartending School