Matteo di Ienno is the Bar Manager of Locale in Florence. He makes us two cocktails, one with Gin and Hibiscus Flower and the second with Rum and Bee Pollen.
Matteo introduce yourself
I grew up in Florence, where my Mother had a bar, so I literally grew up behind one. Watching the way she welcomed and interacted with guests and the way she worked made me fall in love with this job. After I left school I worked in her bar and others around Florence but decided I wanted to learn English, so moved to London. I worked at Browns Hotel for a year, then returned to Florence to work at the Four Seasons bar. After three years I moved to New York for a while then moved back to work at The London Edition hotel until I heard about the opening of Locale. This bar and restaurant is located in a medieval palace (protected by the government) and even has an oven in it dating from 1368. Our current drinks list is inspired by the renaissance and gives customers a glimpse into the real Florence and its stories.
The classic you want to show us
30ml of Tanqueray Gin
30ml of Belsazar White Vermouth
30ml of Luxardo Bitter
10g of Hibiscus Flower
The bar you dream of
My dream bar would be a small place, with an open roof and a huge garden in the Tuscan countryside. Of course, we would serve Italian tapas and all the cocktails would be made with homemade spirits from our own distillery.
What do you do in your time off
In the summer I go to the beach and in winter I go snowboarding. Otherwise, I spend my spare time working in my garden.
The spirit you like the most
Definitely gin because of its spice. We drink gin here from an early age, so it’s part of our culture. I really like the drier gins and nothing too floral.
What makes a good cocktail
Of course balance, but I think the most important thing is to make what the customer wants.
What ingredient do you enjoy using in cocktails
At the moment we are working a lot with fermentation, which is a technique rather than one ingredient, but I’m obsessed with anything fermented at the moment.
The signature cocktail you want to show us
Api Del Giambologna
45ml of Mathusalem Ron Gran Reserva 15
30ml of Tiki Sauce (Grilled Pineapple, Honey, Raspberry, Rice Milk and Turmeric)
45ml of Fermented Pineapple Skin with Jamaïcain Pepper
15ml of Nettle and Orange Liqueur
1/2 Lime Twist
Foam of Bee Pollen
Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender
I’d say Antonio at Dr Stravinsky in Barcelona. And in Pienza go and visit Bledy at Idyllium.
Thank you to Florence Cocktail Week for inviting us to Florence and allowing us to experience all its wonderful bars.