Aaron Diaz is the founder of Carnaval Bar in Lima. He makes us two cocktails, one with Gin and Carpano and the second with Green Chartreuse and Beer.
Aaron introduce yourself
I’m Aaron Diaz and I’ve been a bartender for nearly 20 years. I initially began my career as a chef, but become a flair bartender and travelled a lot, living in Africa and Europe. I moved to Chicago to work at the Aviary for a year and a half and it really changed my vision of the bar. I met a lot of people from different cultures, speaking various languages, so when I came back to Peru I thought I have to do something with all my experiences and so the concept of Carnaval was born… meaning the Carnaval of life. I also worked for three years as director of beverage in a restaurant where I was in charge of three bars. During this period I launched the concept of Cocteleria Conceptual (from the ideas of flavour, innovation, support, creation and improvement). This concept made me travel the world again, but this time to do masterclasses and guest bartending where I shared my vision of bartending. Over the course of eight years, I’ve enriched my idea of Carnaval and continue to learn every day. I designed the entire bar like a kitchen, with four different stations producing different cocktails and at the back of the bar, I created an open ice room. The first menu was about my travels, with cocktails from 12 different bars around the world. Now our third menu is about Carnivals around the world, based on the flavour of each country. For instance, the Chinese one has a little bit of hoisin sauce in it and there is sake and wasabi in the Japanese drink. On the classic side of our menu, we explain where the cocktail comes from and its history. A lot of the glassware is created by a local Peruvian artist with details like right and left-handed glasses, or a dancing glass dedicated to a typical dance from Peru and Bolivia. Even though we work hard on the glassware and garnishes, taste always comes first. I opened Carnaval in Lima in January 2018 and since then we have won a lot of awards, so I am very happy because it’s the first time that a bar from Peru has received this recognition.
The classic you want to show us
2 oz of Gin
3/4 oz of Lime Juice
1/2 oz of Simple Syrup
1 oz of Gin
1 oz of Carpano
1 oz of Campari
The bar you dream of
Carnaval is my dream bar. But with magic, I would make it bigger, perhaps twice the size, because we have a lot of queues right now and I’d also add a distillery behind the bar. Otherwise, I would open a twin bar in Cuzco focusing more on local Peruvian culture and Peruvian products.
What do you do in your time off
I play with my daughter Alma. She is the heart of Carnaval and even one of the cocktails is named after her. As she grows up, the cocktail too evolves on each new menu. She was playing in Carnaval when it was under construction and she loves the bar as much as I do. It’s basically her playground.
The spirit you like the most
I love gin for the freshness and especially London dry gin which is my favourite, as you can do any type of cocktail with it.
What makes a good cocktail
It’s about technique, balance, products and the bartender who is behind the stick.
What ingredient do you enjoy using in cocktails
Pineapple, because everyone loves pineapple. Even if you know nothing about cocktails, people know about pineapple and want it.
The signature cocktail you want to show us
1.5 oz of Gin Beefeater 24
0.5 oz of Green Chartreuse
1.5 oz of Clarified Pineapple Juice
0.5 oz of Lime Juice
1.5 oz of Wheat Beer
Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender
You have to go to Aviary in Chicago, Nomad in New York, Bar Mini in Washington, Salmon Guru in Madrid, Candelaria in Paris, Moskovsky Bar in Moscow, Licoreria Limantour in Mexico, Guilhotina in Sao Paulo, Floreria Atlantico in Buenos Aires, 1930 in Milan, Coupette in London and in Peru Amaz (they only use local products).
Thank you to Candelaria for letting us do this interview during Aaron’s guest shift.