Everyone is the star of their own story. Our Notable People series focuses on the story behind the face and how they make life extraordinary.
THE COCKTAIL SAVANT
Danilo “Dacha” Bozovic is the Jack of many trades and a Master mixer of (YES PLEASE!) cocktails, impeccable service & inspiration.
Principal Bartender and Partner at Employees Only Miami, creator of Swizzle Bar, and Author of Barkeep, Danilo is one busy man. Those who know him, call him Dacha, which you’ll quickly feel ok to do since he’ll make you feel like an old friend the moment you meet him.
This Serbian born former New Yorker, tall and dapper with soft brown eyes and a big cheeky smile, is hard to miss especially since he is fast to greet you with a warm and roaring hello as you enter Employees Only Miami or Swizzle Bar, both located inside Washington Park off 10th and Washington Ave., the heart of South Beach.
So what was it about Dacha that caught our eye, to the point that we felt compelled to interview him about his work?
A few weeks after it opened, I went to Employees Only Miami. Dacha quickly greeted me and introduce me to the menu. He was an interesting mix between the most refined butler in the world and an old BFF I hadn’t seen since college. I felt included and valued, but most importantly, like royalty. As he prepared my cocktail, I watched him maneuver between the other bartenders, gliding from one side of the bar to the other, pouring all types of bottles into a glass and measuring each pour with an eagle eye, like an experienced tailor whom can easily visualize the difference between a centimeter and a quarter inch.
With each new pour, he’d stick a straw, taste, and modify. Based on the look on his face, my cocktail was perfect. A few shakes later and a slice of lemon floating on top and I was sipping my first ever EO Miami Billionaire cocktail, and it looked as inviting as the speakeasy amber lighting surrounding the place.
As I sipped, I observed. He was the leader. He was the teacher. His finesse with customers and fellow bartenders told me that Dacha had something to lose if everyone behind that bar didn’t succeed and that truth translated into every single cocktail and plate served and kept his smile honest.
After a few more visits, I got to know Dacha and the rest of the team. I felt Dacha had an interesting story to tell and I wanted to hear it. So we picked a day to chat, and he proved my gut feelings right: Dacha is an impressive man with an impeccable work ethic and a sincere interest in the success of those around him, but above all, he was genuine- and that made me all ears.
How did a kid from Belgrade, Serbia end up in the middle of Miami’s South Beach? Did you ever think, growing up in the Zemun neighborhood of Belgrade you’d be living steps from America’s most glamorous beach?
It feels crazy to me sometimes. I began bartending at 20 and in 2009 in Belgrade and when I was 24, I got a call from the owner of EO NYC, Dushan Zaric who wanted me to come to Employees Only NYC and check it out. After five months or so working at EO NYC, he was offered a bar manager position at Macao Trading Co, Employees Only sister restaraunt in Tribeca.
What do you drink on your time off?
A daiquiri. I keep it simple, preferably lime, maybe a beer.
What is the most important skill for a Bartender?
Not to have an ego and not to judge. If you want olive brine in your beer then you shouldn't get a funny look. No such thing as a stupid question- you are in our house and you deserve to feel welcomed.
Define your cocktail style in 3 words?
Personal, detailed, and in-the-moment.
What is your main goal with Employees Only Miami and Swizzle Bar?
To create a place in Miami Beach that is known for the best cocktails, service, and team. We want to be a place where the service is why you come and I believe South Beach welcomes that.
Tell me about Barkeep, your book, what inspired you to write it?
Barkeep is a bar manual that teaches you how to keep and maintain a bar, how to greet customers correctly and maintain high standards of hospitality.
When I started in Serbia at 18, there was this culture of secrecy amongst bartenders, a mean competitiveness, where they were deliberately stingy with what they knew. So I had to teach myself. I spent many years learning the hard way. After I figured out the shortcuts, I realized that it would be very beneficial to a young guy trying to get out of tough situations in Belgrade via bartending, if he could learn faster. I wrote the book because I believe that knowledge is power and empowering others in your path is most rewarding.
When we wrapped up, I sat there smitten because Dacha turned out to be even more admirable on the inside.
So when you're in Miami craving a tailored cocktail and 5-star service, head to Employees Only Miami, ask for Dacha and let him know it is nice to meet him again.