This is Ilya Kravstov, from Halifax.
Ilya is 28 years old and is originally from Russia. He lived in Russia up until he was ten years old, then lived in Poland for almost another decade and moved to Halifax about eight years ago. Ilya speaks Russian, Polish and English. He studied the International Baccalaureate program back in Poland and pursued his studies in Tourism Management in Halifax.
Ilya started to work in the hospitality industry as a dishwasher in a Mexican restaurant. Eventually, he was jumping positions between dishwasher, prep cook, cook and would even come to clean the place when it was closed. It was during this period that he started to study Tourism Management. And that was when he really started to learn about hospitality. It was through this program that Ilya met Jeff Van Horne. Jeff was doing a presentation about cocktails and mixology and Ilya was pretty amazed. At that time, he was working at a hookah bar where he was serving mostly beers and shots, so this whole session about cocktails sparked curiosity in him. He started to visit Jeff at the Bicycle Thief, tasting new drinks, reading about cocktails, and was basically starting to learn on his own. At the end of his tourism program, there was an event organized by the school to showcase wine, food and cocktails. It just so happened that Jeff was co-hosting it. When he asked Ilya of his plans after he graduated, he gave him his card and asked him to send his resume. And that’s how Ilya was recruited to be on the opening team of Lot Six Bar.
Lot Six Bar is where he went from being a bar back to being the head bartender. Least to say, Ilya did it the old-fashioned way. He ran, polished glassware, learned which glass and garnish are used for all the cocktails, and powered through many services until he was asked if he was ready to jump behind the bar. And when he did, he learned how to execute the cocktails that he had already seen being made hundreds of times, but still had to understand the structure of drinks and how to balance them. Needless to say, he put the work in. After bartending for a couple for years, he got into this kind of autopilot mode that he could create cocktails without thinking about it. And he became the head bartender of the place.
Overall, Ilya appeared to be the kind of guy that you want to have by your side when things are going to get messy. When you are overbooked and drinks orders fall like ribbons down to the floor, when time is flying and there is just so much you can do with your two hands. We feel it’s the kind of guy that will smile at you, remind you to keep your chin up and power through.
For Ilya cocktail recipe, click here.
A little bit more about Ilya...
The three words that describe him best: stubborn – workaholic – people pleaser
Fun fact about him: “I might be the person, in Nova-Scotia for sure and in Canada maybe, that preps the biggest amounts of fresh juices. Prep has always been part of my schedule, and I always want to keep it. I love it, it gives me a peace of mind. I can listen to music, I don’t need to talk to anyone. But I shit you not, there’s not another person that hand pressed as much citrus and fresh juice!”
Most magical place he has ever been to: The Sahara Desert in Morocco. They were supposed to rent one of these tents that are like hotels but they were all booked. They ended up sleeping on the sand, next to a cliff that was like 50 meters downs, and he has never seen so many stars in his life.
The biggest lesson that your job taught you: Consistency, consistency and consistency.
What’s the biggest challenge that he had to overcome professionally? Stress, vocalizing himself in an appropriate manner and not to take things too personally.