For those who haven't yet done so, it's time to book a plane ticket to Barcelona. This is where the new avant-garde is being defined, not in the field of gastronomy this time, but in mixology. The ranking of The World’s 50 Best Bars 2022,unveiled in the Catalan capital on 4 October, has set it out in black and white.
It's here that Paradiso cocktail bar was crownedThe World’s 50 Best Bar 2022, as well as the best bar in Europe, thus celebrating the highest recognition in the industry. Not far away, still in the top ten, are two other Barcelona clubs, Sips (3rd) and Two Schmucks (7th), demonstrating that Paradiso is not an isolated phenomenon.
In this new wave of protagonists, we cannot fail to mention the Italian-Spanish axis, because both Paradiso and Sips were founded and are led by Italians: Giacomo Giannotti, together with his partner in life and work Margarita Sader, run the winning cocktail bar; while Simone Caporale and Marc Alvarez are the head honchos at Sips.
To reach the top of the world, Giacomo Giannotti left the Italian seaside resort of Marina di Carrara, where his Paradiso was the family bar-ice cream parlor. He chose the same name for his new venture, when he decided to open his speakeasy in 2015, hidden behind the door of a refrigerator in a pastrami shop in Barcelona's Old City. Having entered 50 Best in 2018, he has climbed the rankings to dominate it in just a few years. We spoke to him to learn the secrets of this success.
Did you expect to win?
We knew nothing, although of course having already entered the top three last year we were hopeful. The competitors were all of a very high level. In the last few days, however, when the bar industry representatives began to arrive in Barcelona, we realised that the tension was rising. The rumours began, and whoever we saw hinted at it. In short, it was all up in the air, but until they call you on stage, you can't be sure of victory.
Speaking of competitors and previous winners: Anglo-Saxon rigour had always been rewarded so far. Can we say that giving you the victory was a change of pace?
Creativity, warm service, hospitality and a beautiful venue: we always want to offer our customers a surprising experience.
A touch of Italian flair: how many Italians are there on the staff?
We are about 40 people, 25 are Italian, so more than half of the team. A bit like a cocktail, becoming the best bar in the world is a mix of ingredients.
Do you think your great work on sustainability also had an influence?
There's a lot of attention given to this topic today, but for us, sustainability is a value that we have always pursued. We are constantly trying to improve and grow in this area. We founded the Paradiso Waste Lab for this and we organised the Sustainability Summit last April, which allowed us to compare our experiences with the best examples of the industry, such as Jean Trinh from Alquimico in Cartagena, and Vijay Mudaliar from Native in Singapore (winners of the 50 Best Bars Sustainable Bar Award, respectively in 2020 and 2019, ed).
You also stand out for your gastronomy element.
Almost every cocktail is accompanied by a gourmet snack, and in general, all garnishes are designed in our Paradiso Lab, which includes a team that has been formed by studying chemistry, molecular cuisine, as well as mixology, of course. We want our drinks to be a complete sensory experience.
And then there is Galileo, where the food & drink combination is more evident.
Galileo was a project born at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020, by people who love hospitality and catering. With me are Gabriele Milani, the executive chef of the Monument hotel, Giovanni Pepe who owns an Italian restaurant not far from Paradiso, and for the mixology part there is Andrea Civettini, who has worked with us for many years at Paradiso.
Galileo was born from the idea of creating a union between the kitchen and the cocktail bar, with an important Italian touch, but respecting the best of local products that we find here on the market.
You have just presented the new Paradiso drinks list, can you describe it to us?
It is the most beautiful menu we have made so far, inspired by human evolution. Each drink is dedicated to a moment in history that represented an epochal turning point for man, from the discovery of fire to the light bulb, from the compass to penicillin.
With the inevitable surprise effect.
Exactly. To give some examples we have the 'On Fire' cocktail, dedicated to the discovery of fire, in which there is a laser that lights a fire in a closed glass test tube, the vacuum effect develops and the liquid made up of Jerez wines is sucked up and smoked. Or the 'Fleming', dedicated to the discoverer of penicillin: in this case, we fermented a glass. Or the cocktail dedicated to electricity, 'Tesla', which is presented with a real Tesla coil, with two types of gas which, upon contact with the fingers, change the colours of the glass.
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