In our SILKsofine People series we introduce inspiring minds who are blessed to call their passion, their profession. Last week, I have met cocktail guru Klára Koroknai – Mobilkoktél owner, SpiccProject and Déryné Bistro cocktail chef – at one of Budapest’s coolest spots: SpriccProject. The grill slash drink bar is a perfect so called after work bar, where you can feel yourself home.
We’ve met at SpiccProject, on the modern vintage terrace at one of Buda’s must-visit gastro attraction that offers delish drinks and snacks served in style. Klára was dressed very laidback and she effortlessly shared stories over a glass of cold water with a constant smile on her face. During the interview we talked about her experiences, passion, devotion and cocktail trends of course. I have felt that we are on the same page from the very first second so all I wanted to do is to breathe in her adventurous career moments. Read us digging deeper in the oh-so-trending-cocktail-world and her thrilling job insights!
When and how did your love towards cocktails evolve?
I recall two very dominant moments. One is from the age of 13, when I watched the movie called, Cocktail. As we know it’s a bit cheesy but subconsciously those glamorous bars, blue lagoons and Tom Cruise seemed to be beyond attractive. My second memory is though less utopist; I took a bartender summer job at the age of 20 and it was really frustrating not knowing how to make a mojito or a piña colada – so I’ve learnt to make them. And this was just the beginning…
So what happened next?
I fell in love, I guess. I took a course at the best American cocktail school called Planet One Hungary in Budapest. I was lucky enough to learn from the bests, just like Szőke Szabolcs for example. Afterwards I went to London to try out myself…I arrived on Monday and on Friday I was already working. I got hired in an exclusive Indian restaurant and bar. Shortly after my arrival I was making cocktails. They’ve probably felt that this is what my heart is beating for and I took advantage. After London I’ve spent some time home then I went to Las Vegas and NYC to learn and see more.
And then you came home again and decided to start your own business, Mobilkoktél, right? What’s Mobilkoktél exactly?
Mobilkoktél is my business and true love. It’s basically a portable business, a service. I’m doing cocktails at different events – company parties, fashion brunches, weddings etc.
What inspires you when creating a new cocktail?
Most of all my travels and Kristóf Kovács: my good friend and Déryné Bistro and SpiccProject owner, but also a random shade or a scent for instance.
So what’s your secret?
I believe in the less is more philosophy; few ingredients, minimal garnishing and no fantasy names. I love the blend of fruity flavours and spices or herbs such as rosemary for example.
What’s your favourite drink?
I can’t really handle alcohol so it took me some time to figure out what kind of drink my body can take. It’s vodka-tonic with cucumber.
What’s an average day of yours looks like?
There is no such thing as an average day in my life. Each day is a new adventure!
What kind of qualities and skills are needed to have such job like yours?
Most of all, it’s about practice and devotion. You need to be committed but as well very flexible. Easy-going, creative and a good communicator.
What kind of ingredients are you using with pleasure?
As for alcohol, I prefer Prosecco or vodka, mainly Absolut Vodka. It’s kind of smooth, transparent, neutral and goes well with everything. Otherwise I use almost only fresh ingredients, which means no syrups and such. I also do the shopping on Sundays or before an event personally at the local grocery market. It’s something I truly enjoy and gives me freedom and inspiration because each piece of peach for instance tastes different. I need to touch them, smell them. Seasonal fresh fruits, spices and veggies are always on my shopping list.
And what’s your favourite tool?
To my question; what about the interior? Did you influence the look of SpiccProject? – She answered with a question:
Do you know Kinfolk? (Of course I do! Kinfolk is the most divine print publication of all times blessed with eye-pleasing aesthetics and exceptional art direction. I love bumping into people who are familiar (and are in love) with the lifestyle and visual aesthetics the magazine embraces.) Apparently this bohemian kind of art of living twisted grown-up touch is what we envisioned when created this lovely place. For Unger Zsolt, Kristóf and me it was though important that it has to appeal to many kinds of guests, not only to the Kinfolk kind of free spirits.
What do you think about the cocktail culture in Hungary, mainly in Budapest?
It’s rapidly growing and developing I’d say. It’s shaping together with the progress in gastronomy, the opening of new restaurants and ruin bars. Also foreigners influence the range of cocktails.
Where is the mecca of cocktails?
Brazil was one of them – very rather inspiring, but as for me, probably India was the most special. They had all kinds of exotic herbs and spices in fascinating combinations and proportions. I really enjoyed the diversity of flavours.
What was the most memorable moment of your career?
This is a really tough one…I recall my Ypióca company visit in Brazil as one of the most memorable moments of mine. It took me by surprise that the owner, Heloisa Telles (Export Director at Ypióca Agroindustrial) treated me like I was the biggest sugarcane schnaps supplier in whole Europe. I felt beyond special and in that very moment I realised how lucky I am that I meet such inspiring people in such breath-taking places.
Klára, thank you so much for your thoughtful answers and exciting stories, it was a pleasure meeting you!
Afterwards she offered me a raspberry-elderflower-freeze and she went to pick lavender from the yard of Déryné Bistro to garnish. This is how she does it! And guess what, I did not insist and it tasted just divine – obviously!