Getting to Know Beverage Development Specialist Adam Halyckyj

Apr. 11, 2019


Adam Halyckyj was a history major in college.

It may not sound like the traditional launching pad to a career in the alcohol beverage industry, but as Breakthru Beverage Illinois’s newest Beverage Development Specialist, Halyckyj draws on that experience every day.

His history education helps Halyckyj put together curriculums for bartender trainings and he draws on history’s habit of analyzing trends to stay on top of the ones in the beverage industry.

Halyckyj studied history in college but when it comes to the beverage world, he’s largely self-educated. When it comes to bartending in bars and restaurants, Halyckyj has experienced it all.

“I've worked in high volume locations where cocktails had to be efficient but also good,” Halyckyj said. “I've worked in fancier cocktail lounge settings doing the stereotypical craft cocktail but with multiple steps and different techniques. I've also worked in a beer-focused setting where cocktails were very specific and set on a certain style, so we had to find variations within those to still make them creative.”

For Halyckyj, bartending’s a genuine passion he actively pursued — one that even turned into a career.

We sat down with Halyckyj to not only welcome him to the family but learn more about his favorite part about bartending, his methodology and the most interesting cocktail he’s ever made.

How did you get into bartending?

Adam Halyckyj: I started bartending in college and I got back into it as soon as I came up north. I did it for a couple of nights a week, but then I realized I liked bartending more than I liked my day job.

So, I decided to move to the city and pursue it full-time. I took jobs wherever I could get them. I was a prep cook in the morning and then a bartender at night just so I could keep the hours. I worked my way through happy hour spots at neighborhood bars, then I found my way to a rooftop in the city and that was where everything took off.

So why bartending?

It’s the creativity aspect of it. You go to work, and no two days are the same. It really lets you live a different kind of life and you get a little more freedom to pursue things on the side as well. I like the idea of still running a business and having creative applications, too.

Bartending is an artful science. How does that affect your approach?

I like keeping things simple when I make cocktails. If I'm putting ingredients on the list, I want people to be able to taste them. I don't want them just to be just these little whispers in the background. If it's on there, it should be a fully realized part of the drink. 

I'm just trying to do this in a way that’s accessible and approachable to people but is still kind of pushing them a little outside their comfort zone sometimes.

Can you remember a time one of your cocktails pushed someone out of his or her comfort zone?

I once made what turned out to be an avocado piña colada.

I made an avocado coconut cream, which took a lot of work and time to make happen. But it really rounded out the cocktail and gave it a kind of savory richness opposed to just the sweetness from the coconut that people didn't really expect.

When people saw it, they were like, “I don't know,” so I said, “Just trust me. Give it a shot.” People were surprised at how much they actually enjoyed the drink and were willing to have more than once.

It's probably the most out there cocktail that I ever put on a menu.

What’s your methodology in creating your own unique recipes?

I look at the spirit first and find out flavors that pair well with it. From there, I look at the modifying agents.

If I've got gin and I want to use blackberry, then you know you can go the easy routes and use vanilla or another baking spice. It really just takes experience over time and finding what flavors work well with each other, so you can find the right ratios to create a palate that’s a little more interesting than a flat note drink.

Bartender or Mixologist?

I would much prefer bartender. We're trying to demystify this whole thing. A bartender is a bartender, a chef is a chef. A chef's not calling himself a “tasteologist.” 

I feel like “mixologist” is a hollow title and I feel like it's not something that's genuine because in reality, I think of a mixologist as a person who makes cocktails only to hand them to someone and walk away. A bartender is someone who will make you a drink, ask how your day is and remember your name.

Read Next Article See all Group news

email delivery truck icon

Get news delivered directly to your inbox.

Join our email marketing program for weekly updates on the latest industry trends, product innovations and news.