Meet the bartender: Leonid Zaytsev, Alibi Bar and Dining, Ovolo Woolloomooloo

This expert shaker and stirrer is using a backyard’s worth of botanicals and Aussie ingredients
Leonid Zaytsev hotel bars cocktail competition
Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan
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When Leonid Zaytsev left Russia 11 years ago and fell into a job as a waiter in Circular Quay, he was, he says, completely out of his depth. “I didn’t know anything – the first day I struggled to learn how to carry three plates.” But, working his way up from waiter to barista, he eventually found his place among the bar crew at Alibi Bar. “I thoroughly enjoy the bar and the ability to make people happy and be happy at work,” he says. For the Hotel Bars Cocktail Competition, he translated his passion for the industry and the country into a spiced-rum Old Fashioned with zesty lemon myrtle. “I enjoy the Australian wildlife and the variety of different botanical ingredients that only grow in Australia, and also enjoy local spirits. The one I’m using is distilled in Bathurst, NSW, using a lot of Australian ingredients. You really get a hit of ringwood and cinnamon myrtle.”