Our final installment of the Masters Series features Salvatore Calabrese. Known as the Maestro, Salvatore has been mixing drinks for over 40 years. He has served the likes of US Presidents, Fidel Castro, Mick Jagger, Princess Diana and even Nelson Mandela.
He also knows what it’s like to being in every corner of the bartending industry. Over his career, he has written books, sold barware, judged competitions, consulted for bars and brands, created his own products and mixed drinks to the point of mastery.
Making a classic
In our 2019 chat with The Maestro, we discuss what it means to create a classic and reflect on 100 years of the negroni. Having judged so many cocktail competitions, we asked Salvatore how he knows when he’s tasting a new classic. His advice? Keep it simple.
“Simplicity is one of the [keys] of a great classic. And the name. Simple name, simple ingredients- ingredients you can find all over the world.”
“The biggest dream for any bartender is to immortilise yourself with a great cocktail. And then in 100 years time someone will still [make] it and talk about it.”Salvatore Calabrese
The art of reading a guest
Salvatore Calabrese also reflects on being mentored by Signor Rafaello in the early stages of his career. The lesson he learnt then has stayed with him throughout his career: perfect the art of reading a guest. He learnt this lesson after having a fish thrown at him.
Every customer is different. So before you bring your sunshine to somebody else, try to understand what they want… It’s about making him feel comfortable in his own shell. And then maybe eventually bring him the sunshine.Salvatore Calabrese
In conclusion? “Remember that a great bar is made by people. It’s not the place that makes the place, it’s the people inside.”
In The Master Series, The Living Proof Podcast will be taking in the advice, stories and opinions of those considered to be legends of the industry. You can listen to our latest episode in the series here. Stay up to date by following us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.