Mixologist of the Month - Paolo Tonellotto
- Date of Birth: 16th December 1982
- Birth place: Rome
- Height: 1m 85cm
- Eye colour: Green
- Nationality: Italian
"When I was young I've worked as a waiter in many places and there is where I fell in love with the hospitality industry: I love the idea that our customers are not working while we are, meaning everyone tends to be more relaxed and open to have fun! At 20 falling in love with the bartending was simply inevitable and London was the place to be.
My studies at the WSET and the passionate people around me at the Hide convinced me that this would have been my career. I've given my best and after years I'm now happily a business partner within Blood and Sand ltd, the company behind the Hide bar and we'll shortly be opening a new concept in the City. Most importantly my job gave me the chance to meet a very special person, which will become my wife next August!"
Paolo's Signature Cocktails
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
I'd like to think that bartenders (this is the way I'd prefer to be called) should be knowledgeable on any alcohol. My approach to beers is similar to the wine world, where differences in soils and producers generate completely different results. I'm currently getting into the London beer scene, which is showing a renaissance of micro-breweries that astonish me.
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Always give the best you can in your job, remembering that the team is the most important thing and also that as an employee, always look after the company you work for.
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
I shouldn't really, but as you ask...I hate when a bartender assumes that this is the most important job in the World. It is my favourite, don't get me wrong, but I never saved anyone's life yet...
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
I fell in love with this job and the company I work for, so no other companies in the UK have had the pleasure of my services.
How did you get started?
I started in Rome when I was 20 working at the Supper Club and having Roberto Artusio (Co-founder of the Jerry Thomas Project, Rome) as a mentor. I loved the vibes and the freedom in creativity the job offered.
How were you trained in bartending?
In Italy we say 'Rubare con gli occhi' which translates as 'to steal with your eyes'. Always look around you and if you don't find a reason for what someone is doing, always ask.
Did you take any courses?
What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
From the vintage trend we are definitely into a more sophisticated appearance to our drinks, living in an era where chefs and bartenders are best mates.
What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
I've always thought that the main spirit is the soul of a drink: understanding its limits and allowing it to come through is the most respectful way of building a drink. Inspiration comes from the heritage of that main spirit.
What is your favourite cocktail To make?
Manhattan - perfect, with a red vermouth that's not too overpowering.
What are some of your favourite tools?
A jigger and a smile will do.
What is your favourite mixology resource?
Books, internet and colleagues.
What does success mean for you?
Being appreciated for my job and being able to enjoy all the other beautiful things in life asides from work.
What are some current trends you've seen in the cocktail market?
Fancy glasses and vessels. Actually some paper straws too...
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully within this industry, hopefully within this company, celebrating the opening of a new venue.
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
I would have loved to have been trained as a professional chef so maybe, rather than serving you a drink nowadays, I would have probably cooked your main course!
Your biggest career influencer?
I think that the Hide Bar and the team behind it have definitely had the biggest influence on my career.
First drink you ever tried?
It would definitely have been campari and gin, luckily enough you haven't asked at what age!
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
My fiance would tell you water but I believe moderation is key.
Your hangover cure?
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
This would probably be the last thing you hear about me.
Bar or cellar at home?
Can I choose both?
Currently a nice porter.
Despite the worldwide reputation, I still believe that Pinotage, when well made, is a great wine.
Bourbon and Rye.
Old fashioned and Manhattan.
The Hide Bar has a very special place in my heart.
So many amazing restaurants in London, but my favourite would be back in Rome, where while sitting on some wooden chairs and surrounded by good friends you will be enjoying a passionately made pizza.
The Mediterranean area.
I loved the Matrix Trilogy.
I enjoy casual reading.
Currently 'Bar Della Rabbia', an album by a young Roman singer called Mannarino.
I'll always like the Beatles.