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Meet
Salvatore Calabrese, 
One of the World’s Best MIXOLOGISTs, 
and Get His Fresh 
Summer Cocktail Recipe

When it comes to the Vegas cocktail scene, the bar has recently been raised with the arrival of Salvatore Calabrese, one of the world’s leading mixologists. Known as The Maestro, Salvatore has created bar programs at the most exclusive hotels and clubs in the world and is a best-selling author. Many of his signature drinks are well on their way to becoming classics, while his exclusive Liquid History libations, incorporating rare vintage spirits, are among the most expensive in the world.

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I had a fabulous time with Glenn sampling drinks at Salvatore’s latest bar, Bound by Salvatore, in the lobby of The Cromwell in the heart of the strip. I love to learn from the best, so of course I could not resist asking Salvatore a few questions. Read my interview below for his expert insights on the cocktail scene, and get his beautiful recipe for a refreshing summer drink!

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Tell us a bit about how you became one of the world’s top mixologists. How did you get started and when did you really fall in love with you do?
Salvatore: In June 2016 I will celebrate 50 years in this industry, having made my first Negroni at the tender age of 12 whilst working during the summer break at Hotel Reginna Palace in my home town of Maiori on the Amalfi Coast. Over the years I fell in love with the theatre of the bar and what it meant to be a good host.

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Part of what you’re known for is collecting rare vintage spirits—how did that passion for “Liquid History” come about for you?
Salvatore: When I came to London I took a job at as a bartender at The Dukes Hotel where I stayed for 12 years and built an international reputation. The inspiration for Liquid History was born there when I took over the bar and was looking for ways to improve revenue. I could not work with quantity as the bar was very small and therefore needed to find a unique market. The Dukes being a very old London Hotel with a long history, it inspired me to approach the owner with the idea of selling vintage spirits, he agreed and my passion for Liquid History was born. Salvatore’s Bar in Mayfair now houses one of the largest and rarest collections of vintage spirits in the world, and Bound by Salvatore at The Cromwell also boasts an impressive collection including the ingredients I created the world’s oldest martini with—Park & Tilford unfiltered New York gin circa 1900, and Noilly Prat vermouth circa 1890.

We are such big fans of the cocktail program at Bound at The Cromwell. Can you tell us a bit about your vision for the location?
Salvatore: When I had the opportunity to brand my name in Vegas at The Cromwell, I knew I wanted to see a bar that was different from anything else in Vegas. A more intimate space where the client could enjoy the
theatre of the bar with great service and elegance and above all, great cocktails. When designing the menu, I was inspired by the phrase “Vegas Never Sleeps” to create a selection of coffee-inspired cocktails made and served in a very unique way, along with a selection of some great classics, classics with a twist and of course, some of my signature drinks. I am delighted with the result and with the great team that operates Bound by Salvatore.

As one of the trendsetters when it comes to mixology, what do you see as being the next it-cocktail or type of cocktail?
Salvatore: Mixology is constantly evolving and every day is an inspiration. The current trend seems to be unusual ways of presenting and serving a cocktail, it is very hard to predict what is going to be next as there is such a variety of bars out there. Great for the consumer as there is always something new to try.

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You started your career on the Amalfi Coast, a place we at Divine Living really adore, so we have to ask, what’s your take on the quintessential Amalfi cocktail?
Salvatore: Here is one I created while I was there one summer:

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Talk to us about pairing cocktails with food. What’s the best strategy for picking out the right drink to enjoy with dinner or snacks.
Salvatore: It’s very simple. You should use the same method that you would use when selecting a wine. For example, if I were having a steak dinner I would look for a wine that has rich spicy flavors with a hint of licorice or chocolate. If I were having fish then I would look for acidity and citrus notes. It is the same principle with a cocktail, you should look for flavors that will work with the food. A perfect example is my Spicy Fifty, which was inspired by the Asian Fusion bar menu at my former home of 50 St James. It has floral, citrus and sweet flavors with a hint of spice, which marry perfectly with spicy food. Try one at Bound by Salvatore and you will agree!

What are some of your favorite bars around the world?
Salvatore: I love all the great classic hotel bars and places with some history like Harry’s Bar in Paris, The King Cole Bar in New York, French 75 in New Orleans and The American Bar at the Savoy in London. For some fun I love to visit my friend Julio Bermejo for a Tommy’s Margarita in San Francisco at his family restaurant Tommy’s.

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Learn From The Best

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If you’re looking to take your home cocktail game to the next level and dazzle your guests with a robust liquor cabinet, check out Salvatore Calabrese’s essential book,
The Complete Home Bartender’s Guide.

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