Tallink Hotels Head-Barmaid Jana’s Impressive Career
It’s a beautiful autumn morning at restaurant Nero in Tallink City Hotel, where we meet Jana for a chat. We are surrounded by a light, Scandinavian-style sparkling clean interior. A coffee machine hums quietly in the bar, the aroma of fresh coffee floating in the air.
Jana Mitunevitš’ career in the Tallink Hotels world has already been long and very dynamic. Despite her young age, her job title today is Chief Bartender of Tallink Hotels. In essence, the boss of the bars. Just like the terminology, the world of cocktails is constantly developing. Estonia is a strong player in this exciting field.
Jana started her career in the industry as a 15-year-old schoolgirl. She worked as a breakfast server at Tallink City Hotel, in addition to going to school every day. Jana had to wake up early in the morning, when the rest of the city was still asleep, to make it to work on time, through snowdrifts or autumn winds, in summer with the rays of the rising sun. Since minors are not allowed to serve alcohol, she had to perform other tasks, but watching her professional colleagues from the side, Jana was able to learn all the tricks and skills necessary for bar work.
As soon as Jana came of age, she went to study at the Estonian Bartenders’ Association (EBA), where she successfully completed courses of both – non-alcohol and alcoholic cocktails, a course of coffee barista, and a course of show bartending.
Jana’s first job as a bartender was also in the Lobby bar of the Tallink City hotel. “Ah! You can’t imagine how proud I felt when I finally got to work as a real bartender!” gasps Jana, remembering that beautiful day, “And in general, I really liked it there,” Jana praises her happy working life with a great team and nice customers.
Today, Jana has also won many prestigious awards for her excellent cocktails, which she calls her “babies” because she always puts her whole soul into creating them.
As part of the restaurant NOK NOK team, Jana competed with three cock-tails in the 2022 cocktail competition at Tallinn Cocktail Week. They were a non-alcoholic cocktail – Virgin Coconut Cola-da, a signature cocktail with alcohol – Lemongrass Spritz, and a cocktail from the NOK NOK restaurant’s drinks menu – Feishion. At the award ceremony, it was said that hospitality, knowledge, and ideas were their strengths. Jana is genuinely happy with her work and the cocktails she creates. Her ideas suited well for the Thai restaurant NOK NOK, and she herself drew inspiration from there to create cocktails. They are tasty and balanced, with a great idea and an exciting character. In 2022, Jana won the title – Best Bartender 2022 – with her coconut-lemon cocktail. This win-ning cocktail – Lemongrass Spritz, con-sisting lemongrass, limoncello, prosec-co, topped off with sparkling water, is decorated with lotus root, which the team searched for a long time all over Estonia before they finally found it. The preparations for the victory cocktail were long and thorough. Lotus had an important place in it, since Jana was working at the Thai restaurant NOK NOK at the time. In Asian culture, the lotus is considered a lucky charm and a symbol of wealth, so it seemed noble, beautiful, and natural to use it. The energy of the beauty and goodness of this plant was also transferred to Jana’s creation. The lotus root is precious. It is added to the drink and also used as a table decora-tion.
Photo – Laur Ihermann
Jana’s victories over the last years:
- 2022 Tallinn Cocktail Week: best bartender – Jana;
- 2021 Tallinn Cocktail Week: best bartender – Jana; best cocktail – Summer; best bar – NOK NOK. All three main awards this year went to NOK NOK restaurant;
- 2020 Tallinn Cocktail Week: best bartender – Jana; best cocktail – Fox Tail.
In the course of her career, Jana decided to experience working in other bars in order to expand her horizons. However, the home bar at Tallink City Hotel seemed so nice that Jana soon came back. A few years ago, Jana decided to apply for the position of Chief Bar-tender. She excitedly sent an application and CV. Then waited for a response with a pounding heart. Howev-er, there was no answer… “My fate and my computer decided differently for me!” laughs Jana, remember-ing the twists and turns of her life. “My documents didn’t make it to the competition because my com-puter had broken down. At that moment it may have been just the right and necessary course of things, because only now, when I finally got this job, I feel that I am truly ready for it.”
Jana describes the position of Chief Bartender as a job of great responsibility with people and products, all of which require very different skills and preparation. In addition, Jana deals with professional training and development of the team, product development and much more. She also has to develop her new cocktail menu and keep all of all the bars running like a well-oiled machine.
“I believe that energy is easily and deeply transferred from person to person. If our employees are cheerful and happy, then our customers are also happy,” Jana praises her team and adds excitedly: “Since I have been happy to do my job, I feel a smile coming to my face by itself and I am very happy to see my col-leagues smiling as well. After all, good teamwork is one of the natural components of a happy life.”
Cheerful Jana believes that whenever there is an op-portunity to smile – smile!
In private life, the biggest fan of Jana’s talent is her partner, who appreciates Jana’s cocktail art and soul-ful dedication very highly. Jana’s parents and her partner’s parents are also very supportive in every way.
Three years ago, Jana and her partner moved to a new apartment, and while renovating their kitchen, they had the interior designers design a real cocktail bar. At first, it caused a lot of wonder among profession-als, how can a home environment suddenly contain a professional bar? But they did the job well, and the home bar is now a very popular buzzing spot with never ending cocktails for friends and neighbors.
“On a normal day, the kitchen looks like a kitchen, but as soon as the mood for a cocktail-evening strikes, it can be transformed into a cocktail bar. Everything you need is there,” praises Jana and adds that she also has a small herb garden on her balcony. “It’s so good to take fresh mint, rosemary, thyme, basil that you have grown yourself. We even have two varieties of pep-permint – regular and chocolate, and basil is purple in colour.”
What cocktails does Jana recommend? “Drinks should be chosen according to mood and season. In the summer, with a temperature of 30 C°, the soul does not desire a warm mulled wine. In the winter, though, with a snowstorm, it brings a lot of joy. In autumn and winter, it’s nice to add ginger, lemon, and lime to a warm drink to get vitamin C, and why not a drop of chili. In the heat of summer, I would recommend something fresh, such as an Aperol Spritz or a mojito, topped off not with sparkling water, but with ginger beer.
When adding fresh herbs, it’s good to have a small pestle at home to squeeze out the plant juice, but if you don’t have a pestle, a bigger spoon or ladle will do the trick. “But you don’t need to press too hard, because then the plants will keep their vitality and good energy,” Jana knows from her long experience.
Since the Christmas season is coming soon, Jana’s signature Christmas mulled wine will soon be availa-ble in the bars of Tallink hotels. It is currently being developed and will come in both alcohol and non-alcohol versions so everyone can enjoy it.
Meanwhile, the clock has moved on quickly. Jana and I finish our cups of aromatic coffee, say our farewells and agree that she will let us know as soon as her signature Christmas mulled wine has appeared on the drinks menu. Come to Tallink bars to taste these delightful cocktails yourself!