THE CHIVAS BRAND AMBASSADORS are located in various countries around the world, and their job is to inspire people with their youthful enthusiasm around Chivas Regal and Scotch whisky. Explore the unique contrasts and venues in different cities through the eyes of those whose job is to know the best.
A BIG CHANGE. Can you imagine what it’s like to move to Warsaw after spending most of your life in Birmingham? No, neither could I when I landed the role of Chivas Brand Ambassador in Poland’s capital, but I sure was excited. A year later, I can say that it’s been the most wonderfully positive experience. I never thought I’d be lucky enough to stand up in front of large groups of people and talk about something I’m genuinely passionate about, and have them hanging on my every word. It truly is a privilege and a pleasure.
WARSAW. The Polish capital is a city of contrasts, a blend of old and new. It was completely rebuilt after almost being entirely taken off the map at the end of World War II. Despite this, the city is very aware of its heritage, with the Old Town being reconstructed exactly as it had been before the war. These mock 13th and 14th century buildings are a true testament to the determined nature of the Polish people: forward looking and ready to innovate and embrace the 21st century, while ever mindful of its past and deeply proud of its heritage. And mere streets away from these beautiful buildings are Soviet era apartment blocks nestled in the shadows of incredible glass skyscrapers, dominating the Warsaw skyline.
Glittering new towers dominate the Warsaw skyline.
LANGUAGE BARRIERS. A challenge that all new visitors to Poland should accept is the Polish language. Frequently boasted as being “one of the hardest to learn in the world,” it caused me a few small issues when I first arrived, whether that was misreading road signs and never being able to find the taxi, or accidently calling an elderly lady in a shop “darling” while I was looking for honey. Nevertheless, I was determined to take on this arduous challenge, and have recently conducted my first Chivas tasting for bartenders in Polish.
DANCE TILL DAWN. The Polish people have an incredible warmth and hospitality, which is often not immediately obvious. While slightly closed at first contact, after a few shared convivial moments they treat you with an incredible tenderness, as if you were one of the family. Also unexpected was the Poles’ love of dancing and staying out far later than we do back home! This was a little test for my stamina when I first arrived. Thankfully I know what to expect now – partying till 6am is standard.
FLYING OVER POLAND. Undoubtedly one of the best parts of this job for me is the fantastic people you meet and the unexpected events that can arise. Last November, I was in the VIP suite at Casinos Poland conducting a tasting session of our premium Chivas whiskies when I got talking to a Columbian expat, who also turned out to be a test pilot for gyrocopters. One week later, we were up in the sky together flying around the picturesque frost-covered countryside just outside of Warsaw, before heading back into the city that evening for some delicious Chivas cocktails.
It's not every day that you get to tour Poland by gyrocopter.
PUBS AND PARKS. While walking the city’s pavements it won’t take long before you come across an array of great bars and restaurants, with new venues opening on what seems like a near-weekly basis. The last few years has seen a boom in this industry, with more and more people wanting to go out and enjoy what the city’s best bartenders and chefs have to offer. Also surprising to many is just how green the city is, with a number of beautiful parks, including a fantastic reserve protecting the banks of the mighty Vistula River. This area truly comes alive in summer, when the city moves out to relax and enjoy life on the pop-up bars by the water.
ONE FOR THE BOOKS. My typical night-out in Warsaw is very representative of the city itself – the ultimate blend of old and new. First on the list is the ever-elegant Bar and Books, situated within the Barbican walls of the Old Town, itself a UNESCO world heritage site. Once you sit down for a drink here, it becomes very hard to leave. The warm ambiance, welcoming staff and delicious cocktails are a fantastic combination. The mix of Polish locals and visitors that frequent Bar and Books makes it the ideal place to meet new people and exchange stories.
The Bar and Books team proudly pose in front of their unique bar.
DUMPLINGS AND COCKTAILS. Next up is Woda Ognista, an institution that perfectly combines old and new: innovative cocktails coupled with traditional Polish cuisine that has been given a modern twist. The excellent cocktails are a hark back to 1930s Warsaw, when the cocktail culture was booming and high society events would happen on almost nightly basis. You must ask for their kopytka (potato dumplings), my personal favourite.
Co-owners and head bartenders Emil Oponowicz and Patryk Kowalski behind the bar at Woda Ognista.
OPEN-AIR CLUBBING. We’re ending the night at one of the city’s highest clubs, Level 27, boasting spectacular panoramic views over the Polish capital. In the surprisingly hot Warsaw summer, you can even dance outside on the impressive rooftop terrace. A friendly and fun vibe radiates around the club, with everyone there having a great time. There’s no going home before dawn though… You’ve been warned!
Dance till dawn at Level 27 and take in the impressive views of Warsaw's skyline.
THE END. My time in Poland has been full of spontaneity and discovery: While I’ve been based in Warsaw, I’ve already had the pleasure of travelling the whole country, visiting the Polish mountains as well as such cities as Krakow, Wroclaw and Gdansk. A seamless blend of past, present and future, I urge you to go and get a taste of the city’s energy for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.