Barbican London

Cocktails, anyone? Why I learned MIXOLOGY for an unusual interpreting job

Back in 2014, when I was amidst my preparations to move to London, I got a request to interpret for a masterclass in mixology. Mind you, I had not heard of that word before but I was certainly intrigued.

It so happens that mixology is the study or skill of preparing mixed drinks; that is, the art of making cocktails. And what a beautiful art it is! Full of colours and gorgeous glasses and different flavours and amazing techniques – no, not like the ones Tom Cruise did in Cocktail. Mixology, my dears, is way classier than that.

Step 1: get ready

During the initial meeting with my client, I learned that the person giving the masterclass was no other than Erik Lorincz, Head Bartender of the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel in London and recipient of many accolades and awards, such as World-Class Bartender of the Year and Conde Nast Bartender of the Year.

It goes without saying that I always strive for perfection, but this time I got the feeling that I would have to be perfect, and spotless, and smashing; especially since I’d not be protected by the apparent “invisibility cloth” of the booth but instead be right on the spotlight, by the bar. So, I dived in and started preparing and studying for this unusual but fun interpreting job.

I have to say that it was quite a treat to have spent some days surrounded by crystal cut glasses, bottles of the most amazingly out-of-this-world colours, and slightly giddy friends who had fallen victim to my own passion for what I do (interpreting, not drinking).

Step 2: interpret

MCL with Erik Lorincz
MCL with Erik Lorincz

His words did reflect his passion and love for what he does and his every move was a testament to his skills. The audience was entrapped, the press was delighted, and the organisers were impressed by him -of course- but also by my knowledge of Mixology, Mr. Lorincz’s background, and the Savoy hotel.

See, all the fun I’d had doing my homework did pay off!Mr. Lorincz, in his James-Bond-like style, was extremely charming, professional, and even more of an inspiration than I had imagined.

Oh, I heard the drinks were absolutely fabulous – too bad professional interpreters do not drink while on the job.

Step 3: lessons learned

Always match the speaker’s tone and tenor but be careful not to outshine them. They are the stars and we, interpreters, their medium.

I live in London now and, to this day, Mr. Lorincz’s passion and relentless pursue of it around the world continue to be an inspiration to me. I have set up high goals for myself within the interpreting world and promised that the day I reach a certain key goal in my list I will put on my best Bond-girl-ish outfit, dash into the American Bar, and enjoy one of Erik Lorincz’s signature drinks – preferably one called Coronation


Data Sheet – Tia Maria Masterclass with Erik Lorincz

Type of interpreting: Consecutive with note-taking for the masterclass & simultaneous whispering during interviews with the press.

Type of event: Press interviews followed by a masterclass at a bar.

Number of interpreters per language pair: one.

Equipment: Standard headband microphone.

Challenges: Controlling the situation without out-staging the speaker

Lessons learned:  a) Insist on using bidules (portable wireless devices), even if the client is hesitant. In such a small gathering, it would allow for simultaneous interpreting and would help avoid interrupting the speaker at short intervals. b) Match the speakers tone & tenor but keep it a notch down.

“Know your client’s aims.” ~Paul Arden

Useful Resources

Here’s how to make Green Park, one of the drinks Mr. Lorincz fixed for his audience during his masterclass.

Photo by MCL – Pub culture is an integral part of British life, as is meeting for drinks with friends, colleagues, and more.

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