Paola Idda: Blue Bar at The Berkeley (London)

Paola Idda is a bartender at the Blue Bar in The Berkeley, in London. She makes two cocktails for us, one with Gin and Martini Bitter and the second with Rum and Visciolata Vinaigrette.

Paola introduce yourself
My name is Paola Idda and I arrived in London five years ago to work as a waitress in the Blue Bar at the Berkeley. About a year ago I became more interested in cocktails, maybe because of my studies in chemistry. I’ve come to understand that they have a lot in common, thanks to working here. When you are doing an infusion or a fat wash or a blend of vermouth, I understand how and why it works and it helps me a lot. My palate has also evolved to enjoy more bitter cocktails and the negroni is my favourite, because I am from Italy and it reminds me of a classic aperitivo. As a former waitress, I love to interact with guests and in my opinion a good experience is not only related to the cocktail, but the service, which includes the bartenders and the people on the floor. I am in charge of the concept Out of the Blue Bar which opened in November last year. It’s a bespoke machine in a room which allows you to experience new flavours you can share. We had the feeling that a drink doesn’t taste the same if you are in a different environment. For instance if you drink a mojito in Cuba on the beach under the sun, and you drink the exact same drink in a bar in London, it will taste different: it’s all about the place and the atmosphere. So we created this experience which is divided in 4 chapters, and for each chapter you have a drink with different smells and sounds around you. It’s a kind of 360° experience. It’s difficult to explain because it’s something you need to feel, like a blind tasting, so you all must come and experience it. I love it here because I still make cocktails, but at the same time I am a host who explains the concept of our idea which is exciting and challenging.

The classic you want to show us
25ml of Monkey 47 Gin
25ml of Martini Bitter
25ml of Martini Rubino

The bar you dream of
My dream bar would be a fun bar on a beach in Spain, with Dj’s playing techno minimal music during the day and hard techno during the night with an interior with a futurist design to create a psychedelic atmosphere. Beside the bar, I would have a studio to offering tattoos and haircuts. The cocktails would be a mix of tropical flavours, classic cocktails and aperitivo with cheese and meat boards or fruit salad for the healthier people.

What do you do in your time off
On my free time I go to bars to meet bartender friends, as we are a real community. I love to go to the Beaufort Bar in the Savoy or Oriole, it’s also a very nice place. Otherwise I go shopping to keep me busy.

The spirit you like the most
I love whisky. You can have sweet, smoky or something savoury and bitter. It’s more difficult to find the balance with whisky, but when you do, it’s a more complex flavour profile. I also love to blend whisky with different liqueurs or other spririts like rum and cognac. My favourite whiskies are the peaty scotch whiskies or Japanese ones, like Hibiki 17… I especially love that one.

What makes a good cocktail
For me a good cocktail needs to be balanced, presented well (this includes the garnish and the glass) and of course the service must be great, because it makes up around 80% of what you feel about a drink.

What ingredient do you enjoy using in cocktails
I love ginger because it makes a drink spicy without killing your tastebuds like chilli tends to.

The signature cocktail you want to show us
50ml of Facundo Eximo Rum
25ml of Visciolata Vinaigrette del Cardinal
3 drops of Saline Solution
25ml of Tonic Water
25ml of Cold Brew Coffee

Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender
In Rome you should go to Jerry Thomas and the Beaufort in the Savoy, in London.

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