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Behind the bar: Simone Caporale, cocktail maestro

Behind the bar: Simone Caporale, cocktail maestro

We caught up Simone Caporale, Drinks Tube’s cocktail maestro, on set on a rooftop in East London.

OCCUPATION: “Bartender. I work at the Artesian bar in the Langham Hotel in the West End, London. It’s been listed as the best bar in the world for two years running in International Drinks Magazine.”

BORN IN: “1986. I grew up in a small village in the north of Italy on the lakeside of Lake Como.”

CURRENT HOMETOWN: “London. I came here in 2009 on a one-way ticket with just hand luggage and €2,000 – which is nothing like £2,000 so I wish I had brought more! I knew that London was the capital of the cocktail world. There is such a great drink culture – the exchange of flavours and the mix of so many cultures in London makes it the perfect place to create and experience things in a glass.”

WHY BARTENDING: “I started bartending in 2003 because I was fascinated by not just the cocktails, but also by how magic the environment of the bar or a party can be – particularly with cocktails.”

THE FIRST COCKTAIL I MADE: “A mojito. I remember it wasn’t the best cocktail though, because they made me muddle around 200 or 300 glasses with the lime. That was the preparation I had to do every day for the bar in Lake Como.”

FAVOURITE COCKTAIL: “The Negroni, with Martini Rosso. It’s iconic; the status symbol of the Italian aperitivo. Perfect before a meal, and great afterwards for digestion.”

ON DRINKS TUBE: “I love it because it’s a clear, funny, transparent way to show the passion of cocktail making. Thanks to Jamie and the team, everyone can enjoy beautiful cocktails at home now!”


A Drinker’s Tour: New Orleans

Drinking in New Orleans is a dangerous proposition. One cocktail quickly leads to a second, and then a third, until you find yourself closing down Bourbon Street and wandering back to your hotel as the sun comes up. This is a familiar phenomenon for anyone who has attended Tales of the Cocktail, the city’s annual cocktail festival, or has just spent time in the Crescent City. Because, in addition to hundreds of great bars and restaurants, New Orleans cocktail culture runs deep. The city brought us classic favorites like the Sazerac and Vieux Carre, and is home to some of the country’s best, oldest and most important drinking establishments.

So, there’s no shortage of options for spending time in the city. The hard part is narrowing things down to a manageable list of must-visit spots that give you a varied experience. For some inspiration, these are nine great places to drink (and eat) in NOLA.

Beignets and strong chicory coffee have been a hangover-eradicating New Orleans tradition at Café Du Monde since 1862. Few things taste better first thing in the morning than a plate of these pillows of hot fried dough, heavily dusted in powdered sugar. The French Market location is also open 24 hours a day if you have a late-night craving.

New Orleans is famous for drinks like the Sazerac and Ramos Gin Fizz. But if you’re looking for tasty, original cocktails, head to Cure. The Uptown bar employs some of the city’s finest mixologists, who are creative geniuses behind the stick. Order from the impressive menu, or ask the barkeeps to make you something with one of the hundreds of bottles lining the back bar.

No matter what time you stumble into Daisy Dukes, you can order almost every New Orleans classic comfort food—from po’boys and gumbo to jambalaya. This greasy institution is also famous for serving breakfast 24 hours a day and just might be your savior after a long night.

A world of whiskey and beer await you at d.b.a., just past the French Quarter on Frenchman Street. While the funky jazz bar offers an amazing drinks menu (arguably one of the city’s best), you won’t find any pretension or snobbery here: just a good time.

Stepping into the French 75 Bar at Arnaud’s restaurant is like entering a time warp. The bar has an old-world elegance and a menu of fine cognacs and cocktails, including its namesake French 75, of course. That shouldn’t be a surprise, since long-time bartender and cocktail maestro Chris Hannah runs the show here.

Drink in some history at Lafitte’s, which dates back to the early 1700s. Despite its name, the establishment is actually a fine tavern, and it may even be the oldest building used as a bar in the country. Whether or not that’s true, Lafitte’s has centuries of character to explore as you sit at the bar, so make sure you don’t miss it.

Take a break from your bar crawl for a history lesson. Don’t worry: It’s a drinks-related history lesson. Visit the Museum of the American Cocktail, and check out its collection of vintage glassware, tools and classic cocktail books. It’s a great way to put all those great bars and cocktails in perspective, as you learn more about the history of mixology and the people behind some of your favorite drinks.

A favorite watering hole for locals and visitors alike, the historic Old Absinthe House has been around since the 1800s. There is plenty of history to discuss, but that’s just about the last thing on anyone’s mind as the bartenders pour Jameson shots and cups of cold beer. So settle into a worn bar stool, and enjoy the well-earned atmosphere.

As one of the main players in the modern cocktail renaissance and a co-founder of the Museum of the American Cocktail, Chris McMillian has tended bar all over New Orleans and built up a loyal following. So make sure to go visit him at Revel, the bar he opened with his wife on Carrollton Avenue near Canal Street. Order a bartender’s choice, since, after all, you’re in the hands of a cocktail master, and he’ll surprise you with a well-made drink that’s perfectly matched to your tastes.


Gibson Martini

The Gibson is a stone cold classic with a savoury edge.

Savoury cocktails don’t get much more elegant than the Gibson Martini. As Leon Dalloway, the man behind Gin Journeys, explains: “It’s a stone cold classic that can be a little bit difficult for some, but for the person who loves a pickled onion, it’s a little slice of nirvana.” The pickled onion is a simple addition to the recipe, but it works to subtly re-orient the cocktail’s flavour profile towards the saline.

60ml Sipsmith London Dry Gin

10ml Belsazar white vermouth

Stir the gin and vermouth over lots of very cold ice in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass. Strain into a chilled Martini glass and garnish with a pickled onion. As Dalloway recommends, this drink gets along well with savoury snacks — take inspiration from the aptly-named Gibson Bar on Old Street, and pair yours with a plate of Parmigiano.


Are Awards Ruining Your Favorite Bars?

Winning an award is a euphoric moment. The endorphins kick in as you make your way to the podium. It doesn’t matter if it’s the third-grade spelling bee or the crowning of The World’s Best Bar.

I’ve been there. In 2013, I ran the bar at New York City’s Saxon + Parole when we took home the coveted Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award for World’s Best Restaurant Bar. The acknowledgement validated the immense dedication that went into reaching the summit. I’m not going to lie—it felt awesome.

But over the years, I’ve watched as bar awards have ballooned into something bigger and more grandiose—almost an industry unto themselves—and I’ve begun to wonder: Is this good? Are awards hurting or helping the bar business?

The relentless quest for awards has been building steadily over the last decade with the proliferation of two major ceremonies: the Spirited Awards, which are presented every July at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, and the October countdown of The World’s 50 Best Bars, compiled by U.K. publication Drinks International.

These are considered the Oscars and Emmys of the bar world, and like those storied traditions, they’ve evolved over time, from friendly pat on the back to frenzied competition, worthy of strategic maneuverings and political jockeying. We call it awards season, and it’s well underway now.

The Spirited Awards started out in 2007 as a tiny ceremony for a couple hundred bartenders and bar owners. Today, it’s a lavish black-tie affair with more than 1,000 guests from all over the globe who compete in 24 broad categories. The Drinks International 50 Best is considered by some the Mount Olympus of the industry.

There are dozens more such lists and awards that percolate from all corners of the globe. All of them have their owns sets of judging guidelines and with them their own controversies. Needless to say, no award, whatever the provenance, will be perfect or please everyone.

Just ask Simon Ford. Since 2010, Ford, who heads up The 86 Co., was the chairman of the Spirited Awards and helped compile the thousands of nominations that pour in each year. He also had the regrettable task of shouldering the dozens of complaints that followed from disgruntled bar people who felt slighted at their omission. Rarely did a “thank you” appear in his inbox.

“For the first several years, the Spirited Awards and 50 Best appeared to be a really nice celebration of some of the best and brightest in our industry,“ says Ford. “Most people were happy for the winners. In recent years, however, it has become a lot more heated. People now lobby and compete. People get nasty about winners and complain a lot. The sentiment is changing.”

Ford stepped down last year and passed the torch to Charlotte Voisey, a well-respected member of the global bar community based in New York. When I spoke with her recently, she hadn’t fielded any angry emails—yet. She did remind me, jokingly, that the final list of nominees had only just come out and might raise a few eyebrows, as it typically does. The winners will be announced in a gala ceremony on July 22. Agony and ecstasy will share equal billing, no doubt.

Dante, a bar I run in New York City, is currently ranked No. 34. Being on that list with so many of my talented peers is one of the great achievements of my career. And there’s no question that it has helped our business.

Jacob Briars is a longtime brand ambassador, now with Bacardí, who has sat on various awards panels over the last decade, including the two big ones mentioned above. “I think we fixed a lot of the problems with the Tales awards,” says Briars. “We made the judging more transparent and have in general made the awards more credible. They aren’t perfect by any means, but we continue to try to improve them each year.”

A lot of the challenges, Briars says, come from sheer logistics. “Maybe the awards themselves are too large,” he says. “And that’s multiplied for international awards. We continue to rely on a panel of judges and hope they are all trying new places and keeping their eyes open.”

One thing’s for certain: Winning a major bar award can have a huge impact on your business. Sean Muldoon, of New York City’s Dead Rabbit, itself the recipient of a small mountain of awards, says that winning big in 2009—taking home The World’s Best Cocktail Menu, The World’s Best Drink Selection and The World’s Best Cocktail Bar for Belfast’s Merchant Hotel—helped push him into the spotlight.

“Winning these awards was the catalyst for eventually getting to New York,” says Muldoon. “We wouldn’t have made the connections we did and wouldn’t have been financially backed to open The Dead Rabbit without that global recognition. These events help us to stay relevant in an era when competition is fierce.”

Alex Kratena shared a friendly rivalry with Muldoon and his business partner, Jack McGarry, for several years as The Langham hotel’s Artesian in London was named The World’s Best Bar on four consecutive occasions when he was in charge. He agrees that the awards elevated his career. Both he and his partner, Simone Caporale, have also been crowned International Bartender of the Year at Tales of the Cocktail.

Though they’ve both since left the Artesian, Kratena points out that it was these awards that lead to a steady flow of high-profile gigs. “I am very grateful for all accolades we received,” he says. “They’ve definitely changed our lives and helped our careers. I think it’s not important to win awards, but if you do win, then it’s important to know what to do with them.”

In the same way that vintners tailor wines that “score high” and Hollywood studios time their releases to coincide with Oscar season, are bar owners now opening bars with an eye toward winning awards? And if so, what exactly does it take to create ‘the world’s best bar’?

“It’s a culmination of the small things,” says Muldoon. “Every part of your operation needs to be thought out with the idea of ‘Is this the world’s best?’ In the end, details matter.”

Or as deputy editor of Drinks International, Hamish Smith, puts it: “These awards merely reflect the expert view of the elite of the industry. If you ask the right people, you should get a pretty decent idea of what makes a ‘best bar.’”

“The Artesian in London used to give some customers a free glass of Champagne on arrival,” says Ford. “That is a class move that is going to increase the quality of your experience. Does it help them get noticed as one of the best bars in the world? Of course it does!”

The World’s 50 Best Bars awards started as a poll in a magazine in 2011. When Smith took on the editorship, his role was to make it a global brand. He started by recruiting voters, increasing the academy from 227 to 476 voters (from 56 countries), thereby creating hundreds more of what he calls ambassadors for the brand.

Now those ambassadors are being courted more than ever. The fact that the judge’s names are published for all to view makes this much easier. I see this as a problem. As a judge myself, I receive the latest cocktail menus and press releases from dozens of bars around the world vying to get on the list. This never happened until very recently. With the standard of bars now at an all-time high, competition is fierce, and bars are doing whatever it takes to stand out from the pack, including gaining favor with judges by luring them out to their region to judge cocktail competitions.

“As The World’s 50 Best Restaurants has grown in influence, we feel it is necessary for the voters to remain anonymous in order to protect against direct targeting by lobbyists,” says William Drew, the group editor and head of W50BB who oversees both 50 Best awards.

But what about anonymity for bar judges? “The World’s 50 Best Bars is much younger, but as the profile and standing of the awards and list become further cemented globally, we will look to introduce anonymity to this discipline as well,” he says.

So it’s possible that in the future, as these awards grow in stature, the playing field will level, leaving bars to spend less time lobbying for attention and more time doing what they do best: serving thirsty guests.

“There’s no way to win these awards without demonstrating exceptional hospitality,” says Bobby Heugel, the owner of several award-winning bars in Houston. “Hospitality is supposed to be an unwavering gesture extended to all guests who walk through a bar’s doors. It isn’t allocated to friends and peers or, more specifically, known judges or journalists. Bars actively monitor voters and influencers to make sure they improve their chances of winning awards by providing uncommon experiences to those individuals.”

So who are these judges and how are they chosen? “Early on, I found that those working for spirit companies make great judges as they have the budgets to travel and visit more bars than most,” says Ford. “What needs to be asked of those brand ambassadors, however, is to remove bias from voting for their favorite accounts, and for the most part, they do. But there are also plenty of writers and consultants that are also judges because they get a lot of international work.”

Jim Meehan, of PDT fame, has won The World’s Best Bar by Drinks International in 2011 and Tales of the Cocktail in 2009. “Many of the judges were my mentors and idols, which made the recognition even more valuable to me at the time,” he says.

“When we were recognized as the No. 1 bar on the first Top 50 list, it didn’t get the attention from global media like it does today,” says Meehan. “Ultimately, we don’t work for awards, and I’ve never posted a media clip in the bar or displayed our awards, as I never wanted them to give our staff a false sense of assuredness about what we do. You’re only as good as the last guest experience, and while awards are a really nice pat on the back, they don’t put money in the till or make your drinks taste any better.”

One only has to look at various bars and bartenders’ social media pages to see the game at work. Many tag the #Worlds50BestBars (or something similar) in an effort to campaign for the next round of voting. Jonathan Downey, a pioneer in London’s bar scene whose Milk & Honey was voted The World’s Best Bar in 2009 and 2010, has an opinion on the matter.

“This current obsession with awards is really not healthy, and I hope it changes soon,” he says. “There’s an unseemly clamoring for awards and attention, and it’s at the expense of fun. It’s fundamentally ridiculous to be able to nominate yourself for an award and then embarrassing to be all over social media badgering people to vote for you.”

“We’re supposed to be in this industry to take care of the guests that walk through our doors,” says Heugel. “It’s blatantly clear that a priority for many bars is winning awards. Certainly, that can’t be done without exceptional standards, but having high standards and forming meaningful relationships with guests aren’t necessarily the same animal. The soul is missing in one pursuit and not the other.”

Earlier this year, Agile Media sold W50BB to Britain-based company William Reed Business Media. Drinks International continues as the media partner, with Smith adding: “Growing the entity is a natural step for the brand. William Reed can take it to another level, bringing bars and bartenders closer to the consumer.”

But have they created a monster? Has the bar world gone completely mad in chasing such awards?

Last January, I traveled to London to attend P(our) Symposium, a daylong event that focuses on awards and their place in the industry. It was attended by some of the biggest names in the bar world. Chaired by Meehan, the panel was curated by Kratena and included several other high-profile luminaries such as Drew, Ford, Ryan Chetiyawardana and Zdenek Kastanek.

For hours, we sat around a hotel conference room poking and prodding at the issue, without ever arriving at a clear outcome. After all, we were among those who’d benefited most from awards, who’d seen our careers take off and bank accounts grow in their wake. Was it any wonder that we were a bit hesitant to criticize them harshly?

The prognosis, at the end of the day, was unclear, with one commenter in the audience declaring the whole thing “boring.”

“People are aware that awards can have a big impact on their career,” says Briars when I talked to him months later. “I know bartenders who’ve used awards to get visas or get investors or open businesses. Isn’t that just good business sense?”

But in a business where visibility is tantamount to success, how do bars in smaller markets make enough noise to compete? It’s an issue that Briars has thought about a lot.

“There is always the problem of bias,” says Briars. “New York and London will typically have a lot of nominees because they’re seen as ‘the world’s cocktail capitals’ and, therefore, tend to have more industry judges, too. Does that mean a good bar can’t be elsewhere? Of course not, but you have to be better at making noise than a venue in a bigger city.

And the explosion of big-budget cocktail competitions such as Bacardi Legacy, Chivas Masters and Diageo’s USBG World Class cannot be ignored when it comes to bringing attention, and judges, to a particular city.

Add to that the continued rise of international bar shows, which also shine a light on these smaller, emerging markets—much like they’ve done in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list—and you have an awards machine that looks to be firing on all cylinders.

“If we didn’t have these awards, what would we replace them with?” asks Briars. “Yelp scoring? Facebook likes? We have an innate need to rank and measure ourselves against our peers, whether in school, career or life. It pushes people to be better and gives them a benchmark for the industry. Why would we want to get rid of awards that recognize the bars and bartenders doing amazing work who might otherwise never get their efforts rewarded?”


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But we're not going to stop there. Our aim is to create a cocktail community. Along with our ever growing menu offerings we'll be sharing our favourite recipes, a whole load of handy tips & shortcuts, plus bundles more - to ensure the party never stops.

Ranjit Dhumale - Founder

Ranjit has been shaking things up behind bars since he was legally allowed to, and has a passion for people & generally all things fun.

With nearly a decade of experience in the events industry, an engineering degree (why not?), and having owned a pop-up cocktail bar for the last 5 years it's safe to say he knows what he's doing when it comes to business and booze.

Cocktail of choice: Negroni. Or Margarita. No wait. Negroni. Hmm maybe actually Margarita.


Throwing a Dinner Party? Create a Stir With Three Classic Cocktail Recipes

ARTFUL CONCOCTORS: Simone Caporale, left, and Alex Kratena at the Langham's Artesian bar in London

ALEX KRATENA STANDS BEHIND his bar at Artesian passing some twigs of fresh wormwood to his fellow barman, Simone Caporale, who inhales the sweet herby scent. "Without this plant, you cannot make a Martini," says Mr. Caporale. Wormwood is the base herb for vermouth, a vital ingredient for the classic cocktail.

Framing the mixologists on the back bar is an array of imitation skulls, mugs in the form of sheiks' heads and mini sombreros that hint at the bar's theatrically playful cocktails. Artesian's inventive drinks—like Camouflage (a concoction of Tanqueray No. Ten, Americano, carrot, kombucha and sandalwood that arrives in a golden pineapple) and Time, Space & Honey (which mixes Grey Goose and Champagne with parsnip and honey)—have won the bar at the Langham hotel in London a host of accolades, including being named the world's best bar at both Drinks International's World's 50 Best Bar Awards and the Spirited Awards in New Orleans. But today it's all about the basics, specifically the Martini, the Negroni and the Daiquiri.

"The first important thing to understand is that cocktails are easy, like cooking. You need a good understanding of ingredients and methodology, then it can't go wrong," says Mr. Kratena. "Sixty percent of cocktail-making is about ingredients, so there is no point using premium vodka and then using juice from a concentrate."

For a Martini, that's gin and vermouth. (No vodka, please.) To make it wet, use more vermouth for dry, use less. Artesian's Martini is on the drier side, with two parts gin (Tanqueray No. Ten) to one part vermouth (Noilly Prat). "There's a preconception that Martinis have to be very dry with a little bit of vermouth," says Mr. Kratena. "But gin and vermouth share a lot of the same botanicals. If you want it to be tasty, be generous."

Fill your mixing glass up two thirds with ice. Measure your gin and vermouth. If you'd normally shake here, drop the 007 act and mix your concoction with a barspoon instead. The movement creates the all-important temperature exchange, so shouldn't be skipped. Ice, Mr. Kratena points out, is the only thing that is an ingredient and tool at the same time.

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Cocktail Maestro Makes Bitters the Sweet Center of All His Recipes

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Sother Teague runs one of New York&aposs most distinctive bars at Amor y Amargo.

He sells bitters, barware and books in addition to drinks in the 240-square foot space in the East Village. And he sets himself strict limits in crafting his cocktails. There is no juice, no soda, nothing house-made. There is no shaking or muddling, only stirring. Cane sugar is the only sweetener in the house, seltzer and water the only soft drinks.

Teague riffs on three kinds of drinks: the Manhattan, the Negroni, the Old-Fashioned. No Martini. No rum and Coke. No Daiquiri. Instead, he can replicate those drinks and probably any other you can think of by employing a range of bitters, both potable and tinctures.

The classic tincture is Angostura bitters the classic potable is Amaro (Italian for bitter), a liqueur that&aposs drunk as a digestif in the home country.

Teague runs tinctures across the front of his bar. To his right - the drinker&aposs left - are the holy trinity of bitters, Angostura, Peychaud&aposs and Regan&aposs Orange. Teague was trained as a chef at the California Culinary Academy and worked for a number of years as the technical chef on Alton Brown&aposs Food Network show "Good Eats," and he analogizes the trio to salt and pepper. They bring out the flavors in a cocktail just as salt accentuates the flavors in a dish, but they shouldn&apost be noticeable.

Teague has a number of the਋ittermens line of bitters in his bar. He also favors two of the spirits that the company makes, its Commonwealth Tonic, which tastes like grapefruit on its own but classic tonic water when seltzer is added, and Citron Sauvage. He makes his gin and tonics with Beefeater.

Ed note: This section has been updated to more accurately reflect Teague&aposs relationship with Bittermen&aposs.

Many of the bottles behind Teague&aposs bar are unfamiliar to the average drinker. To help neophytes orient themselves, Teague points to a bottle of Jägermeister that enjoys a prominent place in his bar. Most people associate Jäger with episodes of excessive college drinking, but Teague points out that it&aposs flavored with 56 herbs and spices and shows an admirable complexity when consumed at room temperature. Putting a bottle in the freezer kills all that flavor. Teague wears a Jäger sweatband on his forearm, and he features the drink in a number of cocktails, including the Stag&aposs Leap, which he makes from an ounce and a half each of Jäger and sweet vermouth, three dashes of root beer bitters, seltzer, ice and an orange peel garnish.

The most famous Amaro is Campari, which was invented near Milan in 1860. The Negroni, one of Amor y Amargo&aposs foundational drinks, is made with an ounce each of Campari, gin and vermouth. In his standard Negroni, Teague mixes the Campari with Beefeater gin and Carpano Antica. He also makes variations on the Americano, which is an ounce each of Campari and red vermouth mixed with seltzer.

Amari come from all over Italy. Teague loves the Amaro Montenegro, one of the lightest and sweetest Amari, which comes from Bologna and has bright notes of citrus, orange blossom and rosewater. He likes it over ice or with seltzer and features it in his cocktails, including the Casualty, which includes Montenegro, Famous Grouse Scotch whisky, Nardini Amaro and mole bitters, which impart a cocoa note to the drink.

If you get in your car in Bologna, head to the Adriatic, and drive about two hours south along the sea, you&aposd arrive in Le Marche, one of Italy&aposs 20 regions. Amaro L&aposErborista is made here in the small town of Muccia the liqueur is flavored with a blend of herbs, roots and bark that&aposs heated over a wood fire and sweetened with honey from the nearby Sibillini Mountains symbolized by the bees buzzing around on the drink&aposs label. This is an Amaro for spring.

Must Read:The 14 Best-Rated Tech CEOs in the U.S.

Double buzz sign on chalkboard

If Campari is an amaro, then Fernet-Branco is an amarissimo - a super-bitter spirit, sort of like unsweetened licorice, though once you get past that you notice various herbal notes. It&aposs 39% alcohol by volume, more than twice some other amari, which average in the low 20s, and it has less added sugar. Teague pairs it with a glass of iced coffee made with beans from Finca Alcatraz in Colombia at the bar&aposs "Double Buzz" sessions on weekend afternoons. He describes it as viscous, with a lush mouthfeel.

Fernet Branca is only the most popular form of Fernet. Teague likes Ramazzotti, which is milder. His bar also features Fernet-Vallet, which is made in Mexico and features in a drink called the Nalga Rosa (Pink Testicle), which includes rum, vodka, grenadine, Fernet-Vallet and orange Fanta. Teague employs it to add some kick to a Negroni.

Teague can tell a great story about every bottle and drink in his bar, but if you&aposre looking for one to quit on, the Liquore Strega is as good as any. "Strega" means "witch" in Italian, and the label features a coven of witches. Legend has it that Giuseppe Alberti came across the witches, whose leader gave him the recipe for the liqueur and told him his family would always be rich as long as they didn&apost reveal it to anyone. The drink is still made in Benevenuto, a town in the province of Campania that&aposs been famous for witches since the Middle Ages since 1947 the company has sponsored the Premio Strega, italy&aposs most prestigious literary award. Colored with saffron, it has notes of fennel, flowers and tea and is traditionally served as digestif.


COCKTAIL MAESTRO SIMONE CAPORALE FROM LONDON’S ARTESIAN SHAKES UP A STORM AT LOBSTER BAR AND GRILL

Lobster Bar and Grill at Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong welcomes 2014 International Bartender of the Year Simone Caporale from London’s Artesian to mix drinks from 29 September to 2 October 2015.

Simone, an award-winning London-based bartender from Italy, is the assistant head bartender at London’s Artesian – a world renowned bar at The Langham London, which is recognised for its inventive cocktails and concoctions. For four days in Hong Kong, he will showcase an incredible line up of intriguingly innovative cocktails alongside Lobster Bar’s skilled bartenders headed by Agung Prabowo.

Some tales are best told through the senses. This poetic verse aptly describes Simone’s six marvellous and whimsical concoctions, which will take centre stage at Lobster Bar. Guest will go through a multi-sensory experience with different cocktails that play with aroma, contrasting textures and flavours and out-of-the-box presentations.

“My drinks are greatly influenced by my surroundings, which is why I consider the world of cocktails very special and magical. I’m passionate about bringing an experimental element on every drink that I fashion and you’ll find that evident in my signature cocktails, which were lately inspired by air and altitude,” Simone said about his inspiration for the cocktails he created for his Hong Kong debut.

Simone’s love for mixing drinks started at a small coffee shop in his home town in Como, Italy. From there, he ventured into England’s capital in 2009 and quickly landed a job as bartender at Roast in Borough Market. Surrounded by the freshest ingredients, this is where Simone first learnt the London style of mixing drinks.

A year later, he joined The Langham London’s Artesian and, under the tutelage of Artesian head bartender Alex Kratena, grew into one of the world’s premier bartenders. He became a strong pillar of the Artesian team and has garnered the bar several accolades, including Best International Hotel Bar and Best International Bar Team in 2014 at Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards and the number one slot in The World’s 50 Best Bar by Drinks International for three years in a row. These recognitions did not come unnoticed as he was later featured on Jamie Oliver’s Drink Tube, making him one of the bartenders seen in mainstream media.

Lobster Bar offers a convivial atmosphere to unwind and savour a series of innovative cocktails crafted by Bar Manager Agung Prabowo and his team of cocktailians. Lobster Bar was recently shortlisted as one of the Best International Hotel Bars at Tales of the Cocktail’s 9th Annual Spirited Award 2015 and named one of The World’s 50 Best Bars 2015 by Drinks International.


Hospitality Industry Podcasts

Technology has given us new, exciting and convenient ways to consume content and gain knowledge about pretty much anything. Podcasts are a valuable resource that you and your staff should be using to keep on top of techniques, recipes and trends. Think about how convenient it would be to listen to the latest and greatest industry content during your commute to work. We’ve rounded up 7 of the best bartending, mixology, and hospitality industry podcasts out right now. Cheers!

The Mixology Talk Podcast

  • Available on iTunes: Yes
  • Available on Stitcher: Yes
  • Number of episodes: 71
  • Duration of podcasts: Around 20 minutes

A Bar Above is billed as “the ultimate resource for bartenders, bar management and craft cocktail creators.” It was created by Chris Tunstall and his wife Julia in 2012 to make it simpler for bartenders to hone their craft. Chris, it turns out, taught himself how to bartend by reading hundred-year-old books, and through years of trial and error. The A Bar Above podcast is called The Mixology Talk Podcast and it’s hosted by Chris and Julia. Tips, tricks and techniques are the main focus of this podcast, along with interviews with industry professionals. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or new to the scene, you’ll learn a lot from The Mixology Talk Podcast. The latest episode is entitled, “White Spirits, Syrups vs Liqueurs and Compound Gin: It’s another Listener Questions Episode!” That’s right – Chris and Julia accept listener questions and address them in future episodes.

Road Rash Podcast

  • Available on iTunes: Yes
  • Available on Stitcher: Yes
  • Number of episodes: 10
  • Duration of podcasts: From over 30 minutes to slightly over 2 hours

Join Chef Brian Duffy and mixologist Russell Davis each week for the Road Rash Podcast. After all, what could go wrong? Brian and Russell discuss everything from great food to excellent drinks to the state of the industry, and talk to special guests along the way. In the latest episode, their tenth, Brian and Russell take you behind the scenes of the 2016 Nightclub & Bar Show and speak with special guest James Breakwell. Eat. Drink. Travel. Listen.

The Steve Schneider Show

  • Available on iTunes: Yes
  • Available on Stitcher: Yes
  • Number of episodes: 32
  • Duration of podcasts: From roughly 30 minutes to just over 90

Want to learn about the bartending and the hospitality from one of the very best? Of course you do. Listen to Steve as he speaks with guests like Giuseppe Gonzalez, Tom Walker, Simone Caporale and Dushan Zaric about the current state of the industry. You’ll gain real insight into the goings on in the hottest bars across the world. Co-host and childhood best friend Chris (also known as MothMonsterMann) works for a restaurant chain and provides a different perspective on the industry. Steve speaks with 2016 Nightclub & Bar Bartender of the Year Nectaly Mendoza in the latest episode of the Steve Schneider Show.

Bartender Journey

  • Available on iTunes: Yes
  • Available on Stitcher: Yes
  • Number of episodes: 159
  • Duration of podcasts: About 30 minutes

The goal of this podcast is bartender education and elucidation. Brian “Vince” Weber entered the hospitality industry as a dishwasher at the age of 14, eventually working his way up to bartender. Bartender Journey was launched in 2013 and focuses on education and exploration, utilizing interviews with bar owners, consultants, authors, educators, brand ambassadors, master distillers and other industry experts. “Pisco & Pisco Sours,” the most current episode, features Johhny Schuler.

Bartender HQ

  • Available on iTunes: Yes
  • Available on Stitcher: Yes
  • Number of episodes: 65
  • Duration of podcasts: About 15 minutes

David Sangwell covers all aspects of bartending and operations on his Bartender HQ podcast. Want to know how entering competitions can help you develop your technique? Looking for an edge when it comes to memorizing hundreds of recipes? How about an interview featuring BevSpot’s Rory Crawford talking about making your bar more profitable? The latest episode, “Luna Solihull & Online Flair Challenge Update,” finds David talking about changes made to the bars at Luna Solihull that make them more efficient.

The Speakeasy

  • Available on iTunes: Yes
  • Available on Stitcher: Yes
  • Number of episodes: 181
  • Duration of podcasts: About 30 minutes

Host Damon Boelte is the bar director for Prime Meats in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. He has consulted for bars and restaurants and has also worked with several spirits and beverage companies, such as Maker’s Mark, Plymouth Gin, Tito’s Vodka, Highland Park, and Stumptown Coffee. His techniques and cocktail recipes have been well documented in many respected publications. Subscribe to his podcast, The Speakeasy, to listen to Damon talk about spirits, cocktails, coffee, and all things liquid with guests that include some of the industry’s leading mixologists. Damon’s most up-to-date episode, “A Day in the Life of a Mezcalier,” provides insight into all things agave and the particulars of mezcal.

Speaking Easy Podcast

  • Available on iTunes: Yes
  • Available on Stitcher: Yes
  • Number of episodes: 17
  • Duration of podcasts: About 30 minutes

This podcast is something much different than the others on this list. Speaking Easy is hosted by Alex and Jordan, and they’re not industry experts. In fact, they’re not even bartenders. They are, however, two aficionados who are passionate about technique, crafting quality drinks, drilling down to the history of spirits and cocktails, and hospitality. This is relevant for several reasons, not the least of which is the insight they’ll give you into the mind of your guests, including Millennials and Gen Z. Alex and Jordan are your target demographic: two young cocktail and spirits enthusiasts who have accumulated a wealth of knowledge they’re happy to share with others. Want to know what Millennials expect from you when they visit your bar? Wondering why Gen Z consumers of legal age seem to know so much about spirits, cocktails, technique and presentation? Then you’ll want to give this podcast a listen. Like Damon Boelte, Alex and Jordan tackle mezcal in their latest episode.


The Tahona Society Cocktail Competition competitors and their recipes

Austria - Attila Szelhoffer

Bar: Darwins Bar, Salzburg
Cocktail: El Diablo Old Fashioned
Recipe:
60 ml Olmeca Altos Reposado
30 ml Ginger, cardamom & nutmeg syrup
2 dash Angostura Aromatic Bitters
Cabernet Sauvignon

Austria - Thomas Hausknecht

Bar: Darwins Bar, Salzburg
Cocktail: Es el momento (It's the moment)
Recipe:
Fresh Grapes
60 ml Olmeca Altos Reposado
25 ml Grape shrub
10 ml Raisin syrup
10 ml Lemon juice
Becherovka Espuma

Belarus - Egor Kozlovsky

Bar: Peresmeshnik
Cocktail: Pure Gold
Recipe:
60 ml Olmeca Altos Reposado
20 ml Fresh mandarine juice
125 ml Fermented sparkling kvass (water, rosehip, elderflower, lemon, yeast, honey)
1 dash Rhubarb bitters

Canada - Mike Birdsey

Bar: Miss Thing's, Toronto, Cananda
Cocktail: Hive Five
Recipe:
45 ml Olmeca Altos tequila
30 ml Grapefruit juice
20 ml Rhubarb/Thai chilli syrup
15 ml Salted Red pepper purée

Colombia - Ana Milena

Bar: Gato Dumas
Cocktail: Mayahuel
Recipe: Faisty Past
60 ml Olmeca Altos Reposado
30 ml Passion fruit and rosemary syrup
15 ml Freshly squeezed lime juice
Mole earth on the rim
Spicy caramel sphere

Colombia - Laura Barbosa

Bar: La Guera Urbana
Cocktail: Latino Power
Recipe:
60 ml Olmeca Altos Reposado
20 ml Agave syrup
30 ml Lime juice
6 tsp Natural lulo pulp

Denmark - Jeppe Nothlev

Bar: Helium, Copenhagen
Cocktail: Tahona Fizz
Recipe:
50 ml Olmeca Altos Plata
10 ml PX Sherry
30 ml Lime juice
30 ml Rhubarb syrup
1 dash Egg white
Top with Grapefruit soda

England - Oliver Crush

Bar: Happiness Forgets, London
Cocktail: Community Spirit
Recipe:
40 ml Olmeca Altos Plata
40 ml Pineapple Guadillo Tonic
15 ml Lime cordial
4 Coriander leaves

France - Samuel Dedieu

Bar: Casa Jaguar
Cocktail: Shamanic Supanova
Recipe:
50 ml Olmeca Altos Plata
10 ml Grilled lime juice
10 ml Amontillado wine
7.5 ml Lime & others cordial (homemade)
7.5 ml Smoked syrup (homemade)

Ireland - Johnathan Callaghan

Bar: Skeff Bar
Cocktail: The Shapeshifter
Recipe:
50 ml Olmeca Altos Plata
45 ml Aloe vera juice
25 ml Falernum style simple syrup
Dysphania Ambrosioides (Mexican tea) infused crushed ice

Lithuania - Karolis Jakelevicius

Bar: Alchemikas, Vilnius
Cocktail: Hey Moon. Harvest Joy
Recipe:
60 ml Olmeca Altos Reposado
20 ml Apple cordial infusion (apple juice, sugar, tartic acid, rosemary, thyme)
30 ml Honey and bread syrup
10 ml Lemon juice
5 ml Samane (moonshine)

Mexico - Elizabeth Gordillo

Bar: Xaman, CDMX
Cocktail: Corazón Verde de Agave
Recipe:
60 ml Olmeca Altos Plata
60 ml Green prickly pear juice
15 ml Key lime juice
15 ml Cucumber syrup
15 ml Ancho Reyes Verde liquor

Mexico - Mario Mena

Bar: Sonora Grill, CD, MX
Cocktail: Tahona Spirit
Recipe:
45 ml Olmeca Altos Reposado
40 ml Citrus & hibiscus cordial
20 ml Aperol
15 ml Vanilla syrup

Norway - Evan Rage

Bar: Fyr Bistronomi & Bar, Oslo
Cocktail: Reposita
Recipe:
50 ml Olmeca Altos Reposado
20 ml Chocolate & mezcal reduction
10 ml Ancho Reyes chili liqueur
1 spoon Fernet Branca
1 pinch Sea salt

Poland - Oscar Wereza

Bar: Eliksir, Gdansk
Cocktail: La Polona
Recipe:
40 ml Olmeca Altos Plata
20 ml Cider Gastrique with rhubarb and kaffir leaves (homemade)
10 ml Rhubarb syrup (homemade)
10 ml Lime juice
1 drop Saline solution
Top with soda

Portugal - Alain Branco

Bar: Pistola y Corazón Taquerîa
Cocktail: La Leana De La Sombra
Recipe:
70 ml Olmeca Altos Plata
10 ml Fresh lemon juice
20 ml Homemade Nopal shrub
80 ml Homemade Tomatillo jam
1 slice Jalapeño
2 pinches Cilantro
Top with Jarritos Lime Soda

Russia - Adil Zhelnov

Bar: 15 Kitchen + Bar
Cocktail: El Sol De La Rosa
Recipe:
45 ml Olmeca Altos Plata fat washed with homemade Basil Oil
10 ml Sherry wine
20 ml Homemade lime - Dogwood Cordial
20 ml Tea Rose Jam
40 ml Pineapple juice

Russia - Mikhail Melnik

Bar: Must Have Bar
Cocktail: Arandas Sour
Recipe:
40 ml Olmeca Altos Plata
15 ml Agave syrup
25 ml Lime juice
10 ml Egg-white (smoked Silver Birch tree sliver, mint & pear)
15 ml Mixture of chokeberry juice & red wine

Scotland - Kaiko Tulloch

Bar: Lucky Liquor, Edinburgh
Cocktail: De Sol a Sol
Recipe:
50 ml Olmeca Altos Plata
35 ml Pickled carrot and orange cordial
15 ml Citric lime oleo saccharum
10 ml Oxidised red wine float

South Africa - AJ Snetler

Bar: The Twanky Bar, Cape Town
Cocktail: Ubualu Basintu
Recipe:
50 ml Olmeca Altos Reposado
25 ml Spiced Agave syrup
20 ml Whey
20 ml Lemon juice
50 ml Pineapple, celery and cucumber mix

USA East Coast - Anthony Bohlinger

Bar: Maison Premier, Brooklyn, New York City
Cocktail: Franco Mexican War
Recipe:
50 ml Olmeca Altos Plata
15 ml Olmeca Altos Reposado
22.5 ml Lemon cordial
7.5 ml Lemon juice
15 ml Grapefruit juice
7.5 ml Suze
4 dash Pernod absinthe
3 dash Angostura bitters

USA West Coast - Karen Grill

Bar: No Name, Los Angeles
Cocktail: Elote en Vaso
Recipe:
30 ml Olmeca Altos Plata
25 ml Freshly squeezed lemon Juice
15 ml Nixtamal Amontillado Sherry
25 ml Corn silk & husk syrup
30 ml Corn milk washed Olmeca Altos Plata
2 dash Regans Orange bitters
Shaken and fine strained into a cocktail glass, finished with a pinch of salt.


We Went Behind The Scenes With The House Of Peroni’s Mixologists At London Cocktail Week

So we’ve been spending our time at The House of Peroni, sampling a new menu filled with Peroni-infused drinks created by emerging mixologists.

But The House of Peroni does more than just create delicious new cocktails: it’s also inspiring the next generation of mixologists and it’s helping them to build their careers every step of the way.

The House of Peroni was launched as a way to champion up-and-coming talent and creativity in the industry. Headed up by global Peroni master of mixology, Simone Caporale, the brand has handpicked five emerging bartending talents from around the country and together, they’ve launched the ‘Aperitivo, Restyled by Peroni’ menu. So at The House of Peroni, you know you’ll be in safe hands when the drinks are created by bartenders from the likes of The London EDITION, Bar Three, Bon Vivant, Cecconi’s and Science & Industry in Manchester.

The menu consists of five classic aperitivo cocktails, each infused with Peroni Nastro Azzurro. Think: a fresh take on the traditional Bellini, a restyled Negroni and a reinvented Americano.

We headed down to The House of Peroni to catch up with three of Peroni’s guest mixologists to talk about everything London and cocktail related.

Tell us about yourself!

I’m a bartender originally from Italy and I’ve spent the last 10 years in London. I’m very lucky because I came to London when a lot of things in the bartending world were changing. The information we have on our hands is much bigger than the previous generation. If you can work this information out well, you can make an impact on your career.

Which cocktail have you made with Peroni and how is it made?

For this edition I’m doing the Sorbetto Spritz. So we combine Peroni Nastro Azzurro with a homemade aperitivo that I do with an orange colour made from bergamot, mandarin and hops as well as Peroni. We serve the spritz like a traditional spritz with a slice of orange, but with a scoop of blood orange sorbet on top. When it melts, it keeps it cold and changes the flavour. You can play with it, you can eat it, you can drink it. You need to try it!

Where’s your favourite place to go for cocktails in London?

One of my favourite bars in London is definitely the Connaught bar, inside of the Connaught hotel.

How has Peroni empowered you on your bartending journey?

Luckily my generation of bartending broke the paradigm in that you were very limited in terms of inspiration. Now we get it from art, from texture, from colour, from storytelling and history but that’s obvious, you know. We also get it from shapes. It can really be artistic to make cocktails but you need to understand the basics first. Then you can break the rules!

What makes the House of Peroni a premium experience?

Peroni have a big respect because as a beer brand, for the first time, they pioneered the experimentation of cocktails. And it’s been a huge success – proof that there’s a possibility of a million creative things, recipes and also one very important thing: they turned a ‘standard’ cocktail into a low ABV cocktail. Which is not just a trend but the present and it’s also the future. They’ve combined a low ABV with peroni and turned it into the aperitivo and that’s genius.

Tell us about yourself! Who are you?

My name is Daniele Liberarti I’m an Italian bartender. I moved to London six years ago. I grew up in Italy so I have Italian blood going through my veins.

Which bar do you represent?

I represent Berners Tavern for the London Edition Hotel – we turned five years old a few days ago! We fall under the Marriott Group offering five star luxury lifestyle service.

Which cocktail have you made with Peroni and how is it made?

My drink is made mainly with grapefruit, Vermouth, Martini ambrato, some Amber tincture – really easy, really simple, topped up with some fresh, refreshing Peroni Nastro Azzurro.

What do you like about this cocktail?

It’s really nice, delicate, fragrant and easy to drink, good for pre-dinner and with a meal.

Where’s your favourite place to go for cocktails in London?

My favourite place depends on my mood! If I’m feeling a bit more posh, maybe some hotel bars, if I’m feeling relaxed, I go for a simple bar. I prefer to go for aperitif style drinks. I’ve partied a lot in my life already, so I look more for atmosphere and good company – the most important things!

How has Peroni empowered you on your bartending journey?

Peroni has helped not only me, but the bartending community to grow. It’s not just a beer brand that looks after the consumer, but the bar and hospitality industry, giving bartenders ideas of how to create new cocktails. So we take a lot of inspiration from this brand that represents the way of the aperitif, the design, the fashion, the flair and Italian culture.

What makes the House of Peroni a premium experience?

The House of Peroni is a mix of different elements – simple, but sophisticated at the same time – the product is incredibly good quality. So people come to The House of Peroni because they want a nice beer and unique atmosphere that represents the dolce vita, Italian style, aperitif style, creating this lovely intimate atmosphere where the people enjoy their drink, good company touch of food.

Tell us about yourself! Who are you?

So my name is Matteo Ballistello, I’m the bar manager of Soho House 76 Street and today I’m representing Cecconi’s, which is the same company.

Which cocktail have you made with Peroni and how is it made?

The cocktail I made for The House of Peroni is a twist on the Bellini. I wanted to get a really intense and nice colour and I also didn’t want to use fruit because the most popular twist on the Bellini is that it’s always made with fruit. So I thought “let’s try the beetroot” and I realised that it matches perfectly with the Peroni, which I really really like because I like bitter cocktails. I also added a little bit of Campari to give it an extra kick of bitterness. There’s sloe gin, elderflower liqueur and a little bit of lemon, too.

What’s the most unusual cocktail you’ve ever made?

The most unusual cocktail request I’ve been given was when someone asked for a non-alcoholic Martini. How do you make a non-alcoholic cocktail that’s made almost entirely of alcohol? But you know, we’ll make it for you.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I read a lot of books about cocktails and usually I get my inspiration from very old ones. Or I look around Instagram and in magazines. I go to the other cocktail bars to see what new things they’re bringing out and I always try to use interesting ingredients and to find something new that other people haven’t used yet. It’s not very easy and you need to do a lot of research. And also I try to keep my cocktails very simple but I put something interesting in to make people curious.

How has Peroni empowered you on your bartending journey?

I really like what Peroni is doing, especially with The House of Peroni at Cocktail Week because everybody is happy. You like beer? You like cocktails? We are trying to put everything together. And that’s exactly why The House of Peroni is a premium experience. Also, we are some of the best bartenders from venues around London so there’s a lot of creativity and also research behind the cocktails we’re offering today.

London Cocktail Week is running from 3-7th October between 12-11pm. Passes can be bought here . It takes place at Backyard Market, 146 Brick Lane, London, E1 6QL. Nearest stations: Shoreditch High Street, Whitechapel (underground and overground) and Aldgate East. 18+ only. Please drink responsibly.


Watch the video: Cuba Libre u0026 Mojito Worlds Best Bartender (December 2021).