Michele Buonaiuto is a bartender at Cinquanta Spirito Italiano in Pagani. He makes us two cocktails, one with Campari and Sweet Vermouth and the second with Awamori and Banana Cream.
Michele introduce yourself
My name is Michele Buonaiuto, I was born in a small town not far from the Amalfi coast. In 2013, I made a drastic career change, as I left the army to move to London, looking for new experiences. I started from the bottom as a barback in an Italian restaurant. I liked being behind the bar, so I wanted to improve my knowledge and experience, then I pushed myself to pursue this dream and I moved to the top of the Shard, where I started working as a bartender. After many years there, I learned a lot about spirits and mixology and I was able to improve my customer’s experience so I’ve been promoted to bar supervisor. Later I moved as a bar manager for a new opening in Knightsbridge. From there I manage a new opening of Bar- Restaurant in Covent Garden. There I took care of the cocktail menu, sales, bartender’s training and event planner. With the pandemic came I moved back to Italy to get closer to my family. Back home I heard about the opening of Cinquanta Spirito Italiano that wanted to bring a new concept. I am currently working there as a bartender and become a partner for a new project with the founder.
The classic you want to show us
30ml of Amaro Lucano
20ml of Rum Barcelo Imperial
22.5ml of Fresh Lemon juice
15ml of Almond syrup
The bar you dream of
When dreaming of a bar I imagine a place where people can live a true experience that raises awareness. Just a few tables and a big bar with no more than twelve seats. Tasting menus, easy spirits cocktails with just a few local ingredients coming from local farmers or our hortus. I dream about a place where the local artisans and farmers community could be able to identify itself and grow up through that experience.
What do you do in your time off
During my free time, I enjoy having long walks on the mountain paths not far from my hometown and I hope very soon to be able to do them with my, now, little boy. In the right season, I love these paths to go looking for mushrooms.
The spirit you like the most
The spirit I like to work with the most I think is rum. It gets me very fascinated by the way it expresses his terroir. It’s incredible to think how the same drink, classic or not, could get so different just by changing the rum.
What makes a good cocktail
What makes a good cocktail to me is the story that leads to its final balance, the necessary research that brings to that idea and, of course, how it expresses the identity of the bartender preparing or thinking it.
What ingredient do you enjoy using in cocktail
I enjoy using acidic ingredients: tomatoes, wild apples and of course our local lemons.
The signature cocktail you want to show us
30ml of Ketel One Vodka
30 ml of Rosso Mancino Vermouth
10ml of Vetz aperitivo
30ml of Fresh Lemon juice
5ml of Cinnamon syrup
Clarified in peach yoghurt for 24h
Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender
If I have to recommend a bar to visit, talking about strong identity and ideas, I recommend Vincenzo Pagliara and his team, from Laboratorio Folkloristico in Pomigliano d’Arco, Napoli.