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Coffee Catch Ups With… Agris Smilktens Our Bar Manager

If you’ve ever visited, you’ll surely recognize our charismatic Bar Manager, Agris. This week, we had the pleasure of sitting down with him to delve into his journey in hospitality, his pivotal role here, and to get an exclusive look at our exciting new venture: the Wine Tasting Rooms.

How long have you worked at Penventon?

Over 6 and half years now and I absolutely love it.

How long have you worked in your industry? How did you get started?

I’ve been in hospitality for a good 24 years. To be honest, I’ve been working around bars since I was 10 years old. My family has always been in hospitality. My mum was a bartender and took me to work all the time, I think I mixed my first cocktail when I was 12, obviously with some non-alcoholic juices. I was something really random, but it’s a thing that just stuck with me all my life.
I still remember that first cocktail I made, it included random mixers like orange juice, pineapple juice, lemonade and non-alcoholic blue Curacao syrup. It was a 6th grade school thing, we got bored of drinking plain juice so I mixed something up. I think it was alright for a 12-year-old! 

Walk us through your typical working day. 

It’s a lot as there are no same days, every day is different. The day starts with coming in and seeing what’s happening in the hotel, checking how many guests are in, what their requirements are, and any special occasions and then set up for them. If there’s a wedding, it’s making sure all the welcome drinks are ready and the set-up is done, and then get into service. Outside of that, I have a lot of admin to do, like rotas, budget, stock take, and coming up with new cocktails (…keeping Marketing happy!). 

What’s your process of coming up with new cocktails? 

It can come out of nowhere a lot of the time, it can be a case of looking at the bottle and trying to get creative with what we have. However, when it’s something specific like the summer cocktail menu or something seasonal I look at what the seasonal fruit is, the colour, and what’s trending at the moment. And with social media these days there’s so much cocktail inspiration out there. Something I picked up on recently is a frozen watermelon Aperol spritz.
I’m also quite lucky with my team, I have a really talented team. I’ll come in and they’ll be ready to show me drinks they’ve come up with, and are always very creative. And there’s a lot of different skill sets, so everyone compliments each other well, there’s no such thing as a perfect bartender but when we work as a team we can make miracles happen to be honest.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

It’s the customer service side, it’s one of the harder sides as it’s easy to mix a cocktail – but actually making guests happy is where the real job is. Every guest comes in with different experiences and if someone comes in not feeling their best and then you see them go away shaking your hand and smiling, you know you’ve done your job well. When I’m home reflecting on the day, that’s what sticks and I think ‘oh today was brilliant’. This is what hospitality is about, we are here to make people’s day better. That’s what makes it easier and makes it worth it. 

What is something you’re currently working on that you’re excited about?

I’m really excited about our new Wine Tasting Room, which is going to be one of the most beautiful Wine Tasting Rooms in Cornwall. When it comes closer to the opening we’ll be able to talk more about it, but I’m really excited for guests to experience it. Aaron, one of our directors, is currently working on the wine list. I’m lucky enough to be mentored by him, he’s teaching me so much about wines and has a lot of knowledge. I’m getting through it, and will eventually be fully looking after it. 

The room is pretty much finished and it looks absolutely stunning, all I can say is ‘wow’. We’ve already hosted a private event and saw it in all of its glory. It was jaw-dropping. The lights, ambience, the temperature, everything just fits down there. The job now is getting it opened and used. I can already imagine the dinner parties down there and the stories and memories that will be made.

If you were staying as a guest what would you do? 

I stayed as a guest quite recently and the journey was my favourite. Go for a swim at the Leisure Club and enjoy a cocktail down there, before dinner stop off by the bar for a few more cocktails and then enjoy a dinner in the restaurant. When everything comes together it’s the most phenomenal journey. 

Which fictional character are you most like? 

This is a hard one but Mr Fantastic. He’s able to do anything he needs to, the stretchy arms would be useful haha.

Who’s your favourite band?

Metalica I’ve been listening to them since I was 12 and they’re always on a playlist somewhere. Or offspring.