Boozy Girl Bosses: Sasha Filimonov of Hendrick’s Gin

In our recent FOOD volume we spoke to some incredible Girl Bosses in one of the most exciting industries out there: the drinks industry. If you’ve not snagged a print copy of Vol 13 – grab one now for our top 5 Girl Boss drinks brands and wise words from some amazing women. If you have already and you are looking for some more wisdom, you’ve come to the right place.

Here’s our interview with Sasha Filiminov, the quirky curator brand ambassador of Hendrick’s Gin….

HOC:Hey Sasha, tell us a little about yourself and what your role as a Hendrick’s Brand Ambassador entails?

Sasha: For Hendrick’s Gin I serve as the executor of events, and architect of experiences for the brand, cultivating the unusual wherever I go.

HOC: We can see that you’ve worked around the drinks industry for many years now ; what drew you into this industry?

Sasha: I was drawn to the world of food and drink from a decidedly young age – but my first foray into this industry came about following completing university. I had majored in journalism for my undergraduate degree in the US, however when I graduated – the US economy was tanking and just after being offered my dream job: the publishing house I was meant to work for went on a hiring freeze.

Thus I decided to go off travelling and ended up bartending my way around Australia in some far-flung corners of the country – continuing to write in a freelance capacity in my spare time.

Then I decided to head back to London to complete my MA degree in journalism at Goldsmiths University, which upon completing – I realised that I could marry my two passions of drinks and writing together… leading me to a role at Imbibe Magazine (as well as a continuing stint at the Guardian… though that one is decidedly more classically news-focused).

After spending a few years both tending bar and writing about bars, and having worked closely on some incredibly creative and passion-fuelled projects with brands – it led me down to the path that I am currently skipping on happily today. My role as the Hendrick’s Gin guardian is a perfect blend of my passions and satisfies my curiosities on a daily basis – constantly challenging me to push outside the norm, think creatively as well as continuing to learn and innovate.

HOC: What is it about Hendrick’s that you can’t get enough of?

Sasha: Hendrick’s delightfully unique voice, clear identity and powerfulness in its subtlety – both in flavour and tone – is just peculiarly perfect for me. What an altogether delightful crusade for me, taking Hendrick’s up and down the country and enticing people into our mesmerising world. Furthermore, I am a huge advocate of the Martini – what I (and many others) view as the king of drinks… so it’s a tipple that just feels utterly natural to me and lets our gin sing so beautifully.

HOC: When you started out in your career, where did you want it to go? And how does that compare to where you are now?

Sasha: I was very adamant from a very young age (15-years-old) that I was going to be a journalist and there was no other path for me. Growing up in a household as a first-generation American (my parents immigrated to the US from the Soviet Union), they could see my dedication and motivation – and thus supported me wholly in my single-minded focus.

However, with fluctuating economies, the rise of digital, and increasingly competitive professional spheres – I began to learn how to be more flexible with my career goals – and because of that, I managed to grow, learn and develop in ways that I hadn’t anticipated and am now so immensely grateful for.

At age 15, I thought that at age 30 I would be running my own print magazine in New York City (whilst wearing painfully skyscraper heels). Instead I’m running around the UK (and sometimes the world), creating, tasting, teaching, learning, sharing, and just generally experiencing the unusual every single day. And I couldn’t be any happier if I tried.

HOC: What does a typical day look like working with Hendrick’s?

Sasha: Ha! Well this is awfully tricky because each day is vastly different. Here are a few snippets of what a day in the life looks like:

*snippets pulled from several days and mashed-up into one*

  • Rise, hurry to the gym, partake in a sweaty yoga class.
  • Board flight and watch the sunrise.
  • Drive along the coast of Scotland and watch the waves lap onto the sand.
  • Jovial catch-up with our Master Distiller Lesley Gracie – tasting new (and top secret) liquids and sharing stories and insights over these tasty tipples.
  • Trekking muddy woodland on unexplored terrain to create future journeys for guests.
  • Deconstructing Hendrick’s Gin and its distillates and botanicals with a group of eager-to-learn bartenders.
  • Discovering unused abandoned spaces – and transforming them into places that will deliver experiences one will never forget.
  • Sharing laughs over Martinis with pals old and new – from fellow Hendrick’s Ambassadors visiting London to overdue catch-ups with my favourite people who live just around the corner.
  • Eating far too many bar snacks… nuts and olives are a substantial part of my diet.
  • Working with a team of creative thinkers who never conform to the norm – they are always innovating in art, science, theatre, music, among others – it’s truly fulfilling to engage with such an artistic and dynamic team.

HOC: What’s it like, being a woman in what we imagine is a male dominated industry?

Sasha: I have found it is so crucial to seek out other intelligent, determined and powerful women in this industry to learn from them, glean incredibly insightful advice, and to always act as each other’s cheerleaders. We are truly powerful when our voices and efforts are combined – so I cannot stress enough just how vital so many women from this industry have been to my personal journey and I am forever grateful to them. Further, I always hope I can pass on some of those same lessons and be a voice of encouragement to other women looking to pursue their career in this industry.

HOC: We know you love to travel – where is your ideal spot in the world for a few sundowners and snacks?

Sasha: That is a near impossible question seeing as sundowners and snacks are two of the greatest gifts the world hath bestowed upon us. It’s almost like you know me too well…

But here’s one of my most recent favourites and it’s a showstopper… Franco’s in Pyrgos, Santorini: this is not the classic Oia caldera sunset spot… but has something so special, it feels unmissable. It’s located in a little mountain town that is slightly off the beaten track, and to enter the bar you need to wind your way up through the narrow alleys, through (what feels like) a nonna’s kitchen, and head up to the stairs for a view that is nothing short of breathtaking. I had read this is the place for an “operatic sunset” and that is spot on: the emotionally manipulative opera music plays beautifully as you watch the sun go down whilst sipping on a simply and perfectly made Negroni (and eating mixed nuts… mixed nuts are the best). Did I shed a tear while watching the sunset? *I’m not crying, you’re crying.*

HOC: Do you think the gin obsession will ever die down? What do you see coming up in the industry?

Sasha: I’m not sure it will die down – but rather the way we look at the various styles/sub-categories of gin might become more defined in the future. Currently with the rapid innovation in gin, it can be hard to keep up with where the various styles of gin may sit with regards to flavour mapping; which is also what makes the category so fun and exciting and constantly adventurous. So I think there will just be a hunger for greater understanding of styles, techniques and flavours to help navigate the category in the future.

HOC: What women are doing great things in the food and drink industry at the moment?

Sasha: First of all, I have to give a decidedly big shout out to one of my best pals (and my favourite mentor) Ali Dedianko. This woman has had such a rich career in the drinks industry already at such a young age – and has pursued different avenues that others might have been too afraid to leap into. From being the Global Director of Education at Belvedere to being the Director of London Beer Week and most recently to opening her own (incredibly delicious and unmissable) vegetarian restaurant… she inspires me daily and I wouldn’t be where I am today, nor feel as confident on my own two feet in my role without her sage guidance and support.

The dream team at DrinkUp is one that I have always admired for their absolute dedication to this beautiful industry and constantly bringing things that are new, interesting, valuable and also that deliver a sense of community to the UK on-trade. They are power women!

Leanne Ware is another boss woman who I have always looked up to, and I’ll never forget going to a drinks event probably around 2012 when someone who was introduced to me then referred to me as “Frankie’s missus” (Frank is now my husband). She was very quick to correct them and state that I am my very own woman, with my own career and identity, and I realised that was how I needed to view myself (as well as how to help support other women of the industry).

There are A LOT more women I would like to hero here… A LOT A LOT A LOT … so to save some time and word count, I would like to raise a digital toast to all the beautiful, powerful, strong, clever, funny, talented, amazing and just generally bad-ass women of this industry – long may we reign.

HOC: Can you tell us about a recent ‘Girl Boss Moment’ you had in your work? ie. an experience where you felt proud that you’d totally nailed it

Sasha: I have a very big one coming up…

I will be launching a project, an idea, a passion, a concept, a campaign, a mystery, a story, and ultimately, an event that is incredibly near and dear to my heart, this year at London Cocktail Week.

In a tale of both epic – and miniature – proportions, we are throwing a three-night celebration of the most sophisticated of drinks, the martini – by launching the diminuitively delightful: Hendrick’s Gin Tini Martini.

We are going to hero this king (or shall I say, queen) of drinks by initiating it to both the uninitiated as well as to tried-and-true martini connoisseurs the world over through the introduction of the Tini Martini. Invented to suit the tastes and schedules of the modern aesthete, the Tini Martini is much like its classic older brother but reduced in size to deliver a snippet of the Martini Hour into just a handful of moments.

From the 3rd to the 5th of October, Tini Martinis will be served exclusively at the aptly named Hendrick’s Gin Tini Martini Bar. The highest regard will be paid to the mighty mini through a succession of takeovers hosted by some of my favourite bars from the world over – including Dukes Bar (London), The London EDITION, Employees Only (New York City), Sweet Liberty (Miami), Kinly Bar (Frankfurt) and a couple of others… please join me in raising a toast the almighty and delightfully tiny: Tini Martini! Further details to be found at DrinkUp.London.

HOC: What’s your favourite drink with Hendrick’s and can we have a cheeky recipe?

Sasha: My all-time favourite drink (this will come to no surprise to anyone who knows me even a little bit… or if you have just read the above) is the Martini. I’m hugely partial to a Bone Dry Orbium Martini with a twist – the gentle bitterness of the quinine is softened by the floral notes of the blue lotus blossom which is all nicely rounded out by the wormwood for an absolutely exquisite Martini.

Recipe: 60ml Hendrick’s Orbium

3ml Dry Vermouth

Stir down over ice and strain into a coupette. Squeeze lemon zest over drink and discard.

HOC: How can people follow what you are up to? 

Sasha: Insta & Twitter @sashasips !

 

 

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