In the hot seat with… Massimiliano Bua
We met up with Massimiliano “Papa Massi” Bua, Head Mixologist at the O2 Arena to find out what’s hot in the world of cocktails this summer.
1. What would you say are this summer’s top three cocktail trends?
"The top cocktail trends for summer 2017 would have to be the spritz, bitter flavours (or ‘Amari’) and those ‘bespoke’ spirits and ingredients that are coming out of speakeasy-style bars, like infusions and shrubs."
2. What makes a perfect summer cocktail?
"First of all it should be drunk on the beach with the sun above your head and sand at your feet… but if you can’t do that there are three key ingredients to a summer cocktail:
- Attractive: the most important thing is for it to be attractive. It needs to grab your attention, make you look good while drinking it and make everyone in the room want one too.
- Simple: you want it to be quick and easy to make. Not too fussy. But if you’re keeping it simple you’ve got to be working with good quality ingredients, as there’s nowhere to hide!
- Refreshing: it needs to be thirst quenching and not too strong but still with the spirit as protagonist. The ideal summer cocktail should be able to be drunk during the day and into the evening."
3. Which drinks always sell well over the summer, and has that changed in recent years?
"Rosé always sells well in the summer and that’s certainly changed in recent years. People are starting to realise it’s a good quality wine. And also spritzes (see Massi's recipe for Provence Spritz below). They’ve become huge in the last three years or so. They look great and can be drunk by everyone – the perfect summer drink."
4. What was the inspiration for the new American Express Invites Lounge list?
"Our inspiration was the journey that the arena has gone on to become the venue it is today. We’ve included some forgotten classics on there, as well as some more adventurous twists, alongside old favourites. There’s something for every palate."
5. Which cocktail on the list are you most excited about launching to your customers?
"I’d have to say the ‘Smoky Wild Fashioned’. It took 3 months to develop and it’s a twist on the classic Old Fashioned. The base is a Rye infused with roasted, salted pistachios, which gives it this lovely nutty, salty, delicious sweetness. Then it’s mixed with maple syrup, chocolate and Peychaud’s bitters, smoked up."
6. Are there any cocktail-making techniques you’ve enjoyed experimenting with recently?
"I’ve been doing lots of ‘throwing’ recently. It’s a great way to aerate drinks, particularly those that contain Vermouth, as it really wakes it up. It shakes it up more than stirring, but less than shaking, it enhances aeration and releases aromatics."