During the day, Laura Schacht leads a traditional life as a student of journalism and communications, headed determinedly for her professorship. But when the sun goes down, a completely different part of her life dawns: Laura Schacht is also the fascination with cocktails began after picking up the legendary book “American Bar” by iconic bartender Charles Schumann. Things have changed somewhat in the life of Laura Schacht since then. She still has to pinch herself from time to time since representing Switzerland last year in the international “World Class” competition and being voted as one of the eight best bartenders in the world. No, it is not all just a dream. Bars worldwide are trying to hire the dark-haired beauty. London, Amsterdam, Moscow: They all want to offer drinks branded by “Laura Schacht”.
What does it feel like to represent Switzerland internationally in such a big contest?
It makes you incredibly proud and happy, of course. To be honest with you, I never would have thought of me going so far. For me, the priority was more on having fun rather than just the tough competition.
When did you start mixing drinks?
The enthusiasm was always there, this feeling of “I want to be able to do that, too,” whenever I saw people behind the bar. I pretty much started teaching myself how to mix drinks. I got hold of Charles Schumann’s book and read everything I could get my hands on. From then on I went to every workshop that was offered and soaked in all that knowledge. It was only much later that I found out that my grandfather had also been a barkeeper. Unfortunately, I never knew him.
Do you have a signature feature that defines you as a bartender? And if so, what is yours
With every bar you develop yourself even further. I started out making sweet long drinks with “fillers” and in the meantime I am more into short drinks. Many of the drinks that I make have no citrus juice or any juice in general. I rather use spirits and liquor; hence, stylistically rather old-fashioned drinks. In the past few years, I have also started working a lot with fruit brandy. There is some wonderful cherry brandy in Switzerland, for instance. Those are mostly ingredients that are hardly used anymore today.
How do you come up with a new creation?
It’s the regulars, actually, who are very demanding and often ask for new drinks and personal creations. That means when I mix something new, it is often at the suggestion of a guest. Sometimes you change just parts of a recipe and at other times you make something completely new. I also use jam from time to time instead of the classic sugar syrup. With that you get a consistent, long-lasting fruity flavor. And you can also work in a fruity component in winter.
How much self-confidence do you need as a barkeeper?
You should not be too shy, of course. Honestly, in this business you are mostly in a very relaxed environment. People go to a bar to enjoy themselves, relax and have fun. In other words, it is basically a rather positive atmosphere that you find yourself in. All around you, there are these incredible life stories going on. Sometimes they are romantic, sometimes not so much (laughs). From a proposal to a break-up, you’ve got it all in one night. It covers the whole spectrum of life.
What do you care about when choosing your eyewear?
In my job, a pair of spectacles has to be able to go through a lot. I am constantly moving around, bending forward, and there is a lot of movement when it comes to shaking, too – the glasses should not slip off the nose and be as light as possible.
Are you short-sighted or far-sighted?
I cannot see well in the distance. That is short-sighted, isn`t it? Those terms irritate me every time.
Do you wear spectacles daily and since when are you wearing glasses?
Yes, every day, since 2009.
And during the day, on the side practically, you are studying communications?
Right. I am really both: the intellectual person, studying, teaching, doing research and on the other hand, there is the mixing, the creativity, the craft. I cannot and do not wish to choose one or the other. There is no vacation for me, unless there is at least a distillery nearby to visit. It truly is a passion, almost more of a hobby than work.
What happens after you finish your degree?
I am purposely headed for my doctorate. Research and teaching are also part of me. During the day, I just want to lead a completely normal life. Someday I would like to have my own bar. Maybe it won’t be open every evening, maybe only when I feel like it. Zurich is certainly one of the cities at the top of my list.
What do you do to maintain balance? Do you even have any free time to do something else?
For me, bartending was and is always the perfect equalizer. These two lives flow into each other seamlessly. Everytime I go shopping in the market, in the back of my head I already have a recipe that I could make or wonder if a piece of fruit would perhaps make a good decoration. It never stops actually. Besides that, I do love jogging a lot.