Juan Pedro Domínguez (Granada, 1982), bartender at Teatro Pereyra, is an enthusiast of his work and found in this venue famous for its daily live shows the perfect place to develop what he confesses to be his great passion. At the age of 15 he started helping his father behind the bar in his native Granada but it was not until four years ago that he decided to take the plunge and devote to serve drinks and prepare cocktails.
Interview with Juan Pedro Domínguez
Where did the idea to run in the competition come from?
I took a bartending course in the association of bartenders, and that’s how we got to know it and got involved in it. This is where we heard about the competition, and together with Juangui—the owner of Teatro Pereyra—, who kept encouraging us, we decided to try our luck.
Which of your cocktails was the winner?
The Legendary 00, as we have called it. It is a cocktail based on tequila and with a hint of spice that is its distinctive feature. I prepare it with a Thai chilli and natural liquefied mango juice that mixed with tequila gives it that original taste. It is a slightly different cocktail, a bit risky too because not everyone likes spicy but it worked very well.
What does the jury of a cocktail competition value?
On the one hand, the technique is assessed, how clean the working area is kept, the delicacy of serving and adding that skewered appetizer. Subtle movements and tidiness are valued, yet certain pace and agility are equally important. There is also a blind tasting which seeks to verify that the cocktail is balanced. The overall presentation of the cocktail and its decoration are also taken into account. There are two juries, one of which scores the technique and the other the taste. The sum of both scores accounts for the final result.
The perfect cocktail is the one the customer likes
Each cocktail is served in a different glass, is it an important issue or just a matter of aesthetics?
Every cocktail is prepared bearing in mind how it fits the shape of the glass. Each cocktail, whether short or long, has its own glass. There are cocktails you cannot pour a large amount of because they are entirely made of alcohol, like Negroni for example. This cocktail includes three types of spirit, so if you serve it in a tall glass no one would drink it, because it’s too much alcohol.
How many cocktails should a good bartender know how to prepare?
As many as the customer may order. We must try to learn as much as possible, especially in places like Ibiza where people come from all around the world to. You have to know, at least, the classical ones, the typical preferences of each place and the fashions of the moment.
What do you do when asked to prepare one you do not know?
I always try to prepare it but being honest and telling the client that it will be the first time I do it. Always try to give the customer what they ask, at least, try to.
What is the perfect cocktail?
The perfect cocktail is the one the customer likes. Everyone has their own perfect cocktail. It is very difficult to make a universal cocktail because people have different tastes. What we are trying to do here is to find out what the customer likes and try to advise him.
Recommend to us a cocktail for every occasion.
As an aperitif, I would choose Negroni. Dessert cocktails are usually more complicated, I would suggest an Expresso Martini, for example, because it is made with coffee and a little bit of vodka, and it activates you for the rest of the day. For the afternoon, I would recommend my own creation, the Legendary 00. I made it, precisely, having in mind a warm afternoon when you fancy something cool at sunset. At night, my personal bet would rather be a drink, a gin and tonic so fashionable these days or a somewhat stronger cocktail such as Long island. Though there is more variety among night time drinks, so I would leave the choice to the consumer.
Can you accompany a meal with a good cocktail?
Yes, there are cocktails made to accompany specific dishes. You should look for the right drink depending on the meal. Keeping in mind, however, that high-proof alcoholic beverages are not recommended with food, although you can always find something suitable.
What is your favourite place to have a cocktail in Ibiza?
I couldn’t name just one. Rather than a place I would choose a moment, and it would be during a sunset over the sea. It seems to me as the perfect moment to have a cocktail after a nice day spent on the beach. If I had to choose a bar, it would be Pereyra, without a doubt.
Everybody works as a waiter, but not everybody is a waiter
Is bartender’s life compatible with a family life?
I have a two-year-old baby girl and I actually think I see my daughter more often than a person working a split shift from 8 am to 7 pm. I go to work at 9 or 10 pm, when the child is already in bed and then I can spend the whole day with her. When it’s time for her to go to bed, it’s when I go out again. When I come back home at 7 am, she’s still sleeping. I have time to relax, I can get some sleep and after lunch, I get all busy with the baby. Although it is also true that night work is more tiring, but I’m doing well.
So is the image of a bartender as that of a rascal kind, flirt and night life lover a myth?
There is a bit of truth to that cliché—he laughs—myths do come from somewhere and there’s always some truth in them but they are not entirely true. In my case, it is more of a myth than reality.
At your work, do you obey the rule of not drinking alcohol during working hours?
Of course, sometimes you can have a beer but you should bear in mind that you are working and not partying. Everyone has to know their limits. You must be aware that you’re at work, not on vacation. I think that drinking at work is rather an old school thing I grew up with, people used to drink more before. On the other hand, it is also true that sometimes it comes as difficult.
Finally, what are the ingredients of the perfect bartender?
Tactfulness above all, and then the intention to advise the customer, not to figure out what they want to drink when they are not sure of what they fancy, and serve them something they might like. Of course, diplomacy is crucial to know how to treat people. You have to be a good listener and, most importantly, do everything possible to make them feel comfortable. So they can forget about everything for a while and enjoy the moment they spend here.