Elena Kurnosova, a renowned runway model who has collaborated with prestigious brands like Giorgio Armani, Armani Prive, Zang Toi, Betsey Johnson and has been featured in Vogue has also ventured into the world of mixology and established herself as an elite mixologist of New York City.
Why did you choose a path of mixology?
Just like a fashion mixology requires a keen eye for aesthetics and attention to detail, both mixology and fashion industry play with colors flavors, textures and presentation to create stunning experience. It is an understanding of trends, flavors, ingredients, proper combination of those ingredients and textures while at the same time creating something new.
From artistic side both mixology and painting require a deep understanding of the medium and the ability to experiment and push boundaries. Basically you are painting but with flavors.
Tell us about working in the nightlife?
I have an immerse appreciation for everything unique, rare and full of artistic essence.
When we met up with the team, it was like all worlds of art, fashion, creativity and self expression combined, there is no other place like this in States..
I was given a freedom to create under no restrictions but excellence of quality. This opportunity gave my creative spirit fly free and infuse each drink with touch of magic.
For example frozen slushes meticulously crafted by me each evening to complement distinct style of that evenings celebration.
What was the path like to becoming a mixologist?
Definitely some uneasy years filled with challenges, challenges and more challenges. My very first achievement was one signature cocktail for the place I worked at. It was several years ago.
Later— a full drink menu for a restaurant, now I’m specializing in mixology for high-end private events and prestigious celebrations like movie premieres and music awards at various locations in NYC.
Just as a painting can be a reflection of an artist’s personality, a well-crafted cocktail can be a reflection of a mixologist’s unique style and creativity.”
What do you personally prefer, fine dining or the nightlife?
As a seasoned mixologist, I’ve had the fortune of immersing myself in two distinct yet equally vibrant worlds – the field of fine dining and the pulsating heartbeat of nightlife. While they may seem worlds apart, they are interconnected at their core by the art of mixology, giving me the unique opportunity to explore the fascinating spectrum of this craft.
Fine dining is a field where elegance meets complexity. Here, mixology is perceived as a sophisticated art form. Creating cocktails in this setting isn’t merely about mixing drinks; it’s about a symphony of flavours that complement the culinary creations. The precision and process that goes into creating these cocktails are demanding and rewarding in equal measure. Every cocktail must be a masterpiece – a perfect balance of flavours, beautifully presented and served with immaculate timing.
Nightlife, on the other hand, is a different beast altogether. The pace is fast, the lights are low, and the energy is high. Here, mixology is about creating a distinct atmosphere and memorable moments. It’s about serving eye-catching, delicious drinks that not only taste good but also contribute to the overall ambiance of the venue.
In the nightlife scene, I find myself not just crafting cocktails but also performing. It is a show that keeps the patrons entertained and the atmosphere alive. There’s an adrenaline rush that comes with working in this fast-paced environment, where the ability to create quality drinks quickly and consistently is key.
While the two environments offer vastly different experiences, they both share the common thread of passion for mixology. The pleasure I derive from both is immense. In the fine dining world, it’s the satisfaction of contributing to an exquisite dining experience. In the nightlife scene, it’s the thrill of being part of a vibrant, energetic atmosphere.
Switching between these two worlds may seem like a challenge to some, but I see it as an opportunity to grow and learn. Each setting has taught me different skills and given me unique experiences, moulding me into a well-rounded mixologist. The diversity in my work keeps my passion alive and my craft evolving.
At the end of the day, I couldn’t choose between the two even if I had to. Both worlds offer different thrills and pleasures that keep me engaged, excited, and ever-passionate about my craft. As a mixologist, I am privileged to experience the best of both worlds, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Every mixologist’s journey is a unique blend of experiences, challenges, and victories. For me, the journey began amidst the glitz and glamour of VIP closed events where the drinks I craft become a part of the memorable experiences. From movie premiere parties and exclusive weddings to music awards and more, each event is a new adventure, a new canvas to paint with colors, garnishes, and flavors.
Crafting a cocktail menu for such events is an exciting challenge. It’s not just about creating delicious drinks, but also about weaving the theme of the event into every cocktail. The color, garnish, and flavor of each drink need to resonate with the event’s ambiance and narrative. It’s like creating a sensory symphony that encapsulates the spirit of the occasion, enhancing the overall experience for the guests.
The process begins with understanding the theme and vibe of the event. Is it a movie premiere requiring cocktails as glamorous as the stars walking down the red carpet? Or is it a serene, intimate wedding needing drinks that reflect the couple’s unique taste and love story? Once I have a clear picture of the event, I begin the creative process of designing a bespoke cocktail menu.
The challenging part is ensuring that the drinks not only fit the theme but also appeal to a wide array of tastes. A single event can host a diverse crowd, each with their own preferences and palates. My task is to create a balanced menu, featuring a variety of flavors and spirits, ensuring there is something for everyone to enjoy.
The world of VIP events is dynamic and exhilarating. It pushes me to constantly evolve and innovate, to create cocktails that are not just delicious but also visually stunning and thematically fitting. The challenges are real, but they are what make the journey worthwhile.