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What makes the ultimate Martini?

London’s The Connaught Bar is one of the best and most prestigious bars in the world: the list of awards include World’s Best Cocktail Bar and World’s Best Hotel Bar from Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Awards, Best Bar in Europe and second place overall at the World’s 50 Best Bars.

Add to those, that the bar’s Director of Mixology Ago Perrone has been named as the International Bartender of the Year and European Mixologist of the Year and you begin to understand the credentials of the bar and the people working there.

One of the things that The Connaught Bar is famous for is its signature Martini trolley, which brings the expertise, showmanship and experience of the bar directly to the table.

Perrone works alongside Giorgio Bargiani at The Connaught Bar and the pair have come to Australia and reproduced their exclusive style and panache at Australasia’s best bar of 2020, Maybe Sammy.

In bringing this ultimate Martini experience to Australia, Perrone was sure to tell Bars and Clubs, that “there is no absolutely perfect Martini”.

He adds: “Each and every Martini is only perfect according to our guests’ preferences: from the spirit base, to the aromatic bitter and the garnish.

“To ensure the entire drinking experience is perfect at The Connaught though, we give our guests an active role in making the martini to offer them a memorable experience. This involves our Martini trolley that we use to approach guests and establish a two-way conversation that lasts throughout the cocktail making.”

THE MARTINI TROLLEY

Perrone told Bars and Clubs that the Martini trolley is “the representation of how we involve our guests in the process of the martini making.

“The trolley allows us to establish a direct contact and conversation with the guests, to understand their mood, feelings, taste and create a bespoke drinking experience. While approaching and presenting them with the variations they can use for their drink – the spirit, the in-house vermouth blend, the choice between the five bespoke aromatic bitters and the garnish – we also have the opportunity to explain the essence and the philosophy of The Connaught Bar which is what makes the entire journey unique.

By personalising their Martini together, we also personalise their moment with us at the bar. The entire process culminates in the theatrical pour of the drink and with our motto ‘Straight up with style and don’t forget the smile’ because no cocktail should be sipped without a smile.”

Ago and the Martini trolley in action at The Connaught
Ago and the Martini trolley in action at The Connaught

MAINTAINING HIGH STANDARDS

As mentioned earlier, The Connaught Bar has a number of awards to its name and has been winning awards for over 10 years. So what does it take to be consistently named as one of the best bars in the world?

Perrone says: “Since the beginning, at The Connaught we have worked to maintain the highest standards of hospitality and cocktail making while always injecting innovation and surprise for our guests.

“We pride ourselves on being extremely dedicated to our guests and delivering memorable experiences to them. This goes through an impeccable service, meticulous attention to detail, a warm and personalised approach, as well as the use of classic ingredients, stories and drinks infused with a nod to the future.

“Our service and our cocktail style have always remained true to the identity of our bar and this consistency is the reason of the continuous international acclaim.”

THE NEXT BIG THING

We are all always keen to get ahead of trends and be ready to offer consumers ‘the next big thing’. Perrone says that while there is a trend that he thinks will continue in terms of drinks, it’s hugely important to remember how important service is in your bar.

“The past few years have seen a return of classic and craft spirits, a comeback of fresh and local produce,” Perrone said.

“The trend is set to continue and reflects the need of focusing on authentic and essential flavours after decades of extravagant combinations and presentations.

“This need does not limit to cocktail making but extends to service as well. Guests are after genuine drinking experiences, from the creation they are presented to the way they are served.

“Today, more than ever, consumers are curious about the spirits and cocktails they consume, the stories behind produce and cocktail making and we, as bartenders, have an opportunity to guide them on a journey of discovery and culture.”

MOST VALUABLE BARTENDING LESSON LEARNED

As a professional recognised by judges and peers it’s interesting to hear from Perrone about what he has done to get to this position. It’s a simple, but strong message.

“Learning and being inspired by the others is a great chance we are all presented with in our career. It is essential in order to grow and develop your own style.

“However, once you feel confident enough and you believe in what you are doing, you should be brave and pursue your journey without being influenced by what might seem the current trend or easiest path.”

ANYTHING ELSE?

Perrone says, “It’s always worth adding… Straight up with style, and don’t forget to smile!”

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