CONGRATULATIONS ON MAKING THE T25. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND HOW YOU GOT STARTED IN THE INDUSTRY? I’m originally from a small town in the south-east of Italy called Castiglione d’Otranto. I grew up in a big family and fell in love with receiving, hosting and greeting people at home. Then I found a way to do that as a career. Now, I look after the bar at restaurant Lûmé. I’ve been in this hidden-away terrace house in South Melbourne for the last two and half years. Here, I have the possibility to learn, master and understand the whole picture of hospitality. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT TANQUERAY NO. TEN AND THE INSPIRATION BEHIND YOUR COCKTAIL. Tanqueray No. Ten was released back in 2000 and brought a breath of innovation to the way gin was crafted at the time. It features zesty and floral characters due to the use of fresh citrus and chamomile during distillation, which makes it a natural fit for zesty and bright cocktails, and its generous 47.3% ABV allows the flavours to flourish when shaken or built with soda. With my drink, I wanted to integrate citrusforward notes without just relying on the juice. I wanted to use ingredients that reflect the DNA of Tanqueray No. Ten. For instance, I’ve used yuzushu, made with one part one-year-old sake and one part yuzu juice. This particular procedure juices the fruits with skin on, ensuring all the sweet, sour and bitter flavours of the fruit are retained. I’ve also made a ‘cordial’, with mainly lemon myrtle and aniseed myrtle. These elements will give a boost
to the citrus, not just on the palate but more importantly the aroma of the drink itself. My aim is to reimagine the structure of the Tom Collins without ignoring the tradition of this classic cocktail. 4. YOU’VE BEEN A PROFESSIONAL BARTENDER IN ITALY, LONDON AND NOW MELBOURNE. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE CITY FOR BAR CULTURE? I’ve been in Melbourne for four years now, and it’s still a city overwhelmingly recognised for its small bar culture. But I keep my eye on what’s happening overseas as well - there are some exciting things happening in London, New York and Paris at the moment.
hospitality related ones. Read anything that can help shape the story of the drink, presentation and performance. Information is everywhere - your job is to collect the relevant pieces and connect them to your story. Share your thoughts with colleagues and get feedback. Repetition - Make your drink multiple times until it reaches its best version. Create an online document where you can record any inspiration and can edit it wherever you are. Be hospitable and remember why you’re here.
YOU’VE HAD A PRETTY HECTIC YEAR ON THE COMPETITION FRONT. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO BARTENDERS LOOKING TO ENTER COMPETITIONS FOR THE FIRST TIME? And it’s still on! The grand finale is yet to come! I’m very excited about the WORLD CLASS Global Finals and to represent Australia on a global stage. The obvious advice would be to think outside of the box. I know everyone says that, so let me explain.
WHAT’S AN INGREDIENT THAT YOU’RE EXCITED TO BE WORKING WITH IN YOUR VENUE AT THE MOMENT? I have a few that are floating around the walk-in fridge and dancing in my head at the moment. One of the most exciting is pineapple quince, freshly produced by our local farmer. It has a tropical aroma of pineapple on the skin. We cook it with a bone-dry apple cider to give an extra layer of fruit, texture and firm orchard fruits notes. We then make a Collins with Glenkinchie 12 year-old, coffee-buttered verjus and soda. ‘Southern Collins’ is the name of the cocktail.
1. Don’t be closed off to ideas when stuck behind your marble/wooden bar top. Read carefully what the competition guidelines ask you to do/present. 2. Talking to people from other industries helps me expand my thoughts and formulate a plan, and having a plan is extremely important. 3. Reading books helps me a lot too, and not just
APERITIVO OR DIGESTIVO, CHOOSE ONE AND EXPLAIN. Both. I’m Italian! Aperitivo to start and digestivo to end. This is how you roll. One opens the mind and stomach before the meal to come, the other punctuates the meal’s end. They work together, not alone, to shape the perfect meal.