Johnnie Cocktail of Orvieto

by Agnes Aycock

A group of American college students turn into the bar, exclaiming “Heyyy Slavik!” before they have even fully entered the building. Slavik breaks his concentration on the drink he is making as he turns and flashes a quick, half smile at the 20-something Americans who are eager to gain his attention. “What can I make you,” he asks to no one in particular and a girl answers, requesting what she calls a “white-girl drink”- something fruity and refreshing. Slavik Cebanu chuckles, nodding his head as he started making his concoction.

Macerating fruit and mixing together bright colored syrups and liquors, the girl asks him what he’s making for her and he replies with humor in his voice. “Something delicious. You’ll love it.” He dramatically pours the drink from a foot above the glass, garnishes the drink with a raspberry and mint and places it in front of the student with a straw. “Tell me what you think,” he says expectantly. She takes a small sip and her face breaks out into a smile. As she raves about the drink his eyes light up and he looks content as he quickly moves onto the next student’s order.

Slavik moved from his hometown of Moldova at the age of 18 to the small town of Orvieto, Italy and soon after started working at Montanucci, a bar and caffe that has been operating for over 100 years, as a busboy. When he moved to Orvieto he spoke no Italian.

Nine years later, at 27, he is still working at Montanucci but now speaks Italian like a native and is the lead bartender. He loves bartending and living in Orvieto but he says that he wants to do more. After spending a month backpacking through Spain, he realized just how big and diverse the world is and now wants to travel.

“You grow, it’s a life process. You grow, that the whole point I guess; not remaining flat, just the way you are, but to improve yourself and change yourself and build yourself. Your perspective might change, your wants might change, everything will change.” Skavik says with conviction, raising his eyebrows as punctuation.

He is also in no rush to settle down or get into whatever his lifelong career will be. He isn’t concerned about getting older and not having figured everything out yet, he says “I think its f***ed up that society wants you to have accomplished certain things at these different ages because not everyone has the same timeline, not everyone has the same goals or ambitions. You can’t expect everyone to fit into those conditions or parameters of time. I think it’s kind of messed up as a concept. You shouldn’t listen to it when society says you need to be married by this age or have a career by that age.”

Looking ahead he is content to take things when they come, saying “when it’s the right time for me to get things I will get them, but I don’t want to put all that pressure on myself to rush things. It is still important to not be a useless piece-of-s**t. You should still have goals and keep busy but when things are meant to come they will come.”