[:it]Benjamin Cavagna: background and new projects of the bar manager of 1930[:]



Twenty-nine year old originally from Lumezzane (BS), Benjamin Cavagna is the bar manager of 1930 Cocktail Bar. The only speakeasy of the Milanese group Farmily, led by Flavio Angiolillo and of which Benjamin is one of the partners, he has recently dedicated himself to new and interesting projects.


When did your passion for cocktails begin and how did you arrive at 1930? Is that where the nickname came from?

My passion was born at the age of 19, when I started working as a journeyman while I was still playing football. First I worked in a cocktail bar in the province of Brescia, and then, after some experiences, six and a half years ago the call from Flavio Angiolillo came. I was a loyal customer of his and he called me at 1930 to do some extras. A year and a half later I became the bar manager. As for the nickname Benjamin - my name is Fabio - it was born in a joking way when I started working in the company, for the first 3-4 months at Mag. It happens that every newcomer to our company receives a funny nickname, a little ' as a joke but also to make the job easier given the presence of several guys with the same name. In my case the nickname came from Benjamin Button, since I was only 20-21 years old, but I already looked old. Seven years ago, on the occasion of my last clean shave, I entered the club and Flavio, not recognizing me, said to me: "Do you see that you look like Benjamin Button?"



What emotion did you feel the first time in 1930? What are your strengths? And the distinctive ones?

It was magical because I did it as a customer and I didn't even know the place existed, unlike almost all of our customers. I had no idea what 1930 was, what experience awaited me, and who worked within it. Our customers are mainly fascinated by 3 aspects: privacy, because since only a certain number of people can enter and only a few there is this aura of confidentiality, the desire to experiment, because 1930 is a cocktail bar that does not pose limits, and sartorial communication. We can tell new customers what we do at the restaurant while those who come every day are impressed by the informal welcome in a very experimental and international cocktail bar. There are several differences between 1930 and the other speakeasies: here to access you must be a member and, to become one, you must frequent the other clubs on the property - Mag Cafè, Iter and Mag La Pusterla - meet the guys and make yourself known. If there is the possibility of letting the person into 'our home', then we decide it. In this way, we are able to know more details about our customers and guarantee them a better experience.


How would you describe the clientele of 1930? Do you think the bond with them has strengthened recently?

Polyform. We have the 20 year old student who drinks 100 euro whisky, the lawyer who orders 15 euro gin and tonic, through to the pensioner who is passionate about spirits and the sector employee. The strange thing is that all these people meet in one place, eliminating the existing social gaps. Our bond with customers is very strong and was seen particularly in the first lockdown. People perceive 1930 as a meeting place, a bit like the bar in the 80s, 90s or 2000s. As for the new card, until we have certainty we don't think about it, but we know that we will open more loads than ever, with many customers who will return to identify us as a meeting point. We will confirm the format we recently launched, that of an alcoholic breakfast on Sundays, and we will work on other innovations.



You taste but don't drink cocktails: why? What do you like to drink and what places did you frequent with colleagues?

I like the flavors of cocktails but not the taste of alcohol. It happens that I drink a few cocktails, but rarely and only in the company of friends. My favorite is Brandy Crusta which, being rare to find, the few times a year that I drink it I prepare it myself. In my free time I am specializing in natural wines, also thanks to a friend who lives in Switzerland - one of the three leading experts on the subject in his country - and in beer, for which I rely on Lambic Zoon, probably the first bar in Italy to produce and serve Lambic-type beers. When I went out with my colleagues we often went to a pub for a lager or on the weekend to have an aperitif at Ceresio7, Rita's Tiki Room and Mandarin Oriental.


What do you think about non-alcoholic and low-alcohol cocktails?

It's a concept that I fully embrace. Not only do we offer them at 1930 but we are also partners and members of JNPR, a project that consists in the creation of non-alcoholic distillates that can be used in mixing. We collaborated on the creation of the recipes and we also use both products, the JNPR n°1 and the non-alcoholic bitter BTPR, in our restaurants, with great success.



What emotion did you feel when 1930 entered the 50 Best and when it was reconfirmed? Has anything changed since before?

I was on holiday and was in a position where there was no connection. At lunchtime, when I managed to connect to the internet, I received 70-80 notifications. It was a very strong emotion, even more so considering that we didn't expect it. Reconfirming ourselves was even more difficult, because we had much more attention. Since we entered the 50 Best we have had to travel more, to get new inspiration and to communicate our work. We have received so much popularity but have maintained a very close bond with our customers and their families. We happen to have lunch together with them, exchange gifts and participate in some weddings. We owe much of the results we have achieved precisely to this type of connection.


What are your recent projects? Do you have any new ones planned?

The most important is undoubtedly Dripstillery, a project born last year during the lockdown in partnership with Fundeghera 1939, a company near Abbiategrasso created in 2018 by the great-grandchildren of the founder of the grocery store. Dripstillery is the outlet for all Farmily creations. The first product created is Bitter Fusetti, a 25 % vol bitter that we are already distributing throughout Italy in the liter format, 3 L bag in box and half liter format, at retail and online. It can be used in a shaken Negroni, Americano or Bitter, or in one of our signatures such as the Marinaio sballato, prepared with Fusetti Bitter, coffee vermouth, mezcal, vinegar reduction and served in a glass without ice, with mezcal olives. Also with Dripstillery we plan to launch Dripsliquor, a line of seven liqueurs created in collaboration with Italian bartenders which recalls the classic liqueur industry in the bar world, and Dumb Stuff, fun and curious liqueurs created together with international bartenders.


What signature cocktail do you identify with most?

The Asado Old Fashioned, the variant of a great classic cocktail, whose name refers to the probably most traditional and representative meat cooking method in Argentina. We distilled the meat, or pulled pork, and created a gum with liquid smoke, the product that is used on meat during cooking. We then created a crusta - dehydrated with maltodextrins - made with chimichurri, their typical green sauce with garlic, chilli pepper and parsley used to accompany fish and meat.



30ml Michter's Bourbon Whiskey

15ml Pulled pork spirits

15ml Smoked gum syrup


Prepare with the stir technique, mixing the ingredients with a bar spoon directly into an Old Fashioned glass.



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