Nico Salvatori is the Bar Manager of Oltre in Bologna. He makes us two cocktails, one with Olive Oil Gin and Black Garlic Vermouth and the second with Mezcal and Horse Radish.
Nico introduce yourself
My name is Nico Salvatori. I’m 34 years old and I come from a small town near Bologna. I discovered bartending in 2010 after a little experience in computer graphics. But I never liked being stuck in front of a computer. Since then, I have developed a huge passion and curiosity for cocktails and food. Thanks to a friend, I began working in a place near Modena where it all started. I grew up with my grandma sourcing always fresh produce from the market and cooking at home. Wherever I worked, I always looked for particular fruits and vegetables, so all my cocktail preparations are inspired by lots of studying and observing the chefs I’ve worked for. After a casual meeting with Lorenzo Costa in 2016, we decided to open a cocktail bar inside Oltre restaurant. It all started in 2019 and since then we’ve continued to experiment. It’s been a challenge trying to match cocktails and traditional food but we are proud of what we’ve achieved so far. All the products you see at Oltre are craftily made. Over the past few years, I’ve been involved in a small craft liquor factory near Modena called Gorfer. Last year, I became a business partner. This project gives me the freedom to creatively craft bitters, vermouth, amaro, gin and more.
The classic you want to show us
60ml of Olive Oil Gin
15ml of Black Garlic Vermouth
Gel with Balsamic Vinegar Liquorice
The bar you dream of
My dream bar it’s certainly a place that looks towards low waste and locally sourced seasonal products. I would love my place to be a workshop where customers are constantly engaged and there is a close connection with local farmers.
What do you do in your time off
At the moment the cocktail menu changes every two months. Working alone is hard, so sometimes it doesn’t allow me to have a lot of time for what I like. Collaboration between the kitchen, the staff and myself is essential. Plus on top of that, I have to supervise the factory. So with few spare time, I dedicated it to my partner and try to read a bit while I listen to music.
The spirit you like the most
My favourite spirit is not really a spirit as people see it, it’s a bitter. I am Italian so bitter is part of my culture and I love to mix bitter with other ingredients in a cocktail. Bitter can be used for aperitivo and it’s a palate cleanser too.
What makes a good cocktail
For me a good cocktail is about four pillars:
– The quality of the ingredients
– The technic of the bartender
– The atmosphere of the venue
– The idea behind the drink. It’s easy to change an ingredient on a classic, but creating a drink starting from an ingredient is more complex but has a stronger result too in the end.
What ingredient do you enjoy using in cocktails
I love seasonal vegetables such as cucumber, cabbage lettuce… because with all of them I can use the bitter part of the vegetable. Bitterness is my obsession.
The signature cocktail you want to show us
50ml of Horse radish Mezcal
15ml of Lemon Juice
15ml of Passion Fruit Smoked Cordial (lapsang souchong, passion fruit and curaçao skin)
Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender
If you stay here in Bologna, go to visit Guero. But there are great bars in small cities in the region like Freccia Bar in Piumazzo, Cesare or Cotton Club in Modena and Depero in Rieti. No need to go to big cities to find good cocktail bars.