Maros Dzurus: Nordic explorer

Shay Waterworth hears how Himkok bar manager Maros Dzurus moved from Slovakia to become the toast of Oslo.

It can be quite easy for a young bartender to rack up a CV boasting a long list of roles, trying to leapfrog their way to the top by swapping allegiances in a short space of time. But for Maros Dzurus, loyalty and hard work have taken him right to the top tier of European bartending.

Born in Slovakia, Dzurus was destined for a career in hospitality given that his parents ran a bar in his hometown during childhood. But after following in similar footsteps in Slovakia, Dzurus moved to Oslo in 2015 to learn English.

A regular pathway for European bartenders is a move to London, but Dzurus didn’t fancy following the crowd, hence finding himself in Norway’s capital. After working at several bars across the city he applied for a role at the newly opened Himkok bar and distillery.

“I actually didn’t hear from them for a few months, so I was surprised to eventually get an interview. I was completely sold on the concept. I’d never seen a distillery actually in a bar before and it blew me away. I started as a bar back because my English was still very limited, but it wasn’t long until I started to progress up the ladder.”

Himkok is currently number 43 in The World’s 50 Best Bars and is more of an institution than a bar. Having first opened its doors the same year Dzurus moved to the city, its concept is as progressive today as it was almost 10 years ago, and its five appearances in 50 Best reflects this.

In early 2021 Dzurus was promoted to bar manager of Himkok and, as well as the travel and status which the role brings, having an impact on recruitment and developing a team is something he enjoys almost as much as making drinks.

“I absolutely love building a team and matching different personalities and backgrounds together. It’s important to have a good mix of people in order to have a functional team and it’s not just about qualifications or having an impressive CV.”

In June 2020, just after the outbreak of the pandemic, Dzurus launched a Strawberry Rhubarb wine alongside Anika Perisic and Paul Voza, which now thrives in the domestic market. But it isn’t just his career the Slovakia native has built at Himkok, he also met his long-partner at the bar.

“The work-to-life balance is very important to me and we’re lucky to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle in Norway – I’ve even taken up cross-country skiing.”

Having worked at Himkok for the best part of a decade, it’s difficult to say who has served who the most. Dzurus has built not just a career but a life at the bar, while the Himkok name has flourished under his leadership, having returned to the 50 Best list under his reign.