Lexie Constantinescu: A matter of urgency

The London bar community was rocked in April by the news that Lyaness bartender Alexandra ‘Lexie’ Constantinescu had unexpectedly passed away on an extended trip to Cuba, where she had previously been competing as a UK finalist in Havana Club’s Cocktail Maestros competition.

Tributes to the bartender poured out on social media, paying respect to a kind, gentle and talented young woman. Having first met Lexie during her time behind the bar at City of London Distillery in 2021, I can attest to all of these qualities and more – a warm welcome, beaming smile and a perfect dry Martini were never far away whenever she was behind the bar.

Discourse online following the tragedy hasn’t answered any questions surrounding exactly what happened to Lexie in the days following her time competing with Havana Club (a statement was released on the brand’s Instagram account addressing speculation). Ultimately, it is most important for Lexie’s family and close friends to get the answers they deserve in private.

However, Lexie’s sudden death is not the only one in the bartending community to be reported in 2024, with Swedish bartender Jacob Ekman sadly passing during Roma Bar Show. So, it begs the question: are we doing enough to safeguard the people in our industry? In the coming weeks I will be publishing an article on drinksint.com, asking what brands and bars should have in place to make sure bartenders, brand ambassadors and others are protected as much as possible when travelling for work.

During my time gathering information for this article, I have been told numerous harrowing accounts that point to the consequences of the dangers at play in an industry where lines are often blurred when it comes to work and play. Who is responsible for our safety? How do we stop tragedies like this happening again? And why aren’t we talking about it more? The resounding sentiment among my interviewees is that something urgently needs to change.

In the meantime, I asked some of Lexie’s close friends and colleagues for their lasting memories of a bartender whose character radiated with the true meaning of hospitality. My thoughts continue to be with them and her family.

In memory of Alexandra ‘Lexie’ Constantinescu (1995-2024)

Friends and colleagues pay tribute in their own words

“We shared the most beautiful five years together, travelling the world and immersing ourselves in different cultures and backgrounds. Her laughter and warmth were a constant source of joy and comfort. Her legacy of kindness, generosity and grace will continue to inspire all who had the privilege of knowing her. She will be deeply missed but forever remembered in our hearts.” Pedro Montero, bartender, Kwant London

“Lexie stole my heart from the first Hemingway Daiquiri she made me to the very last Negronis we shared together. She challenged my perception of the industry and the joys of an amazing drink, opening a whole new world for me. The last day I saw Lexie we talked about new hopes we shared for the future. Now her legacy is carried on by her friends: when we have an opportunity to befriend somebody new and show a stranger a little kindness; when we connect with a customer and bring a smile to their face; when we hold our friends close. That’s how we keep her memory alive.” Joao Curti, bartender and hotel sales at Grosvenor House Hotel

“The untimely passing of Lexie has shaken the entire bar community of London and everyone who had the pleasure of knowing her; because that’s how she was, capable of attracting and endearing herself to anyone with her gentle manners, her purity and her smile, which could bring light even to the darkest room.” Mattia Cavicchia, head bartender, Henson’s Bar

“Lexie stayed with us for about eight months before deciding to change jobs to advance her career. I was obviously sad to lose someone like her, but of course, I could only wish her the best. I was overjoyed to learn that she had won the Havana competition and that she would be in Cuba for the finals, but I never thought I would never see her again. I received the news while I was on vacation in Oman with my wife; I had just woken up and my phone started ringing. The most frustrating thing about this whole situation is that nothing is known about the cause of death. She will be remembered by everyone as the sweet Lexie, always smiling and cheerful.” Francesco Delfino, bar manager, Henson’s Bar