For years bar manager of La Ménagère in Florence, he left the adventure that saw him at the helm for years in February to embrace a new challenge, which sees him as a protagonist in one of the most famous areas of the historic center of Florence, Piazza San Giovanni. He is Luca Manni, born in '83 and the place in question is Move On, a new concept, based on the sale of vinyl and on the offer of a traditional pub, now renovated for the occasion.
Hi Luca, what training do you have and when did you approach the world of cocktails?
During my studies at university, at the age of 21, strong in my desire to work in a cocktail bar, I decided to leave my job as a barman for events to attend an American bartending school. Therefore, I had various experiences as a barman in clubs in Florence, then as head barman at the Golden View, a consultancy with a large Tuscan reality, "L'Enoteca Falorni" in Greve in Chianti, before starting, in October 2015, my personal adventure at “La Ménagère”.
What did you do at La Ménagère? When and why did you leave?
I joined as head barman and, after a year, I became bar manager. I was responsible for six proposals in total: two at La Ménagère, one on each floor, and the four at the Student Hotel, whose opening I followed. There was a cocktail bar and a bar on the ground floor, the cocktail bar on the terrace and another bar in the internal courtyard. Each proposal had its own menu and a different drink list, tailor-made in a tailor-made way. In February, believing that my project had reached the end of the line, I left the challenge to launch myself into a new project, Move On, owned by the solid Florentine group Valenza, which also has the other two well-known venues in the city under its belt , Paszkowski and Caffè Gilli.
You have worked in Florence for years and know the tastes of the place well. Which cocktails are the most popular?
The Florentine is very attached to simple tastes and classic cocktails, such as the Negroni, the Spritz and the Gin Tonic. In recent years we have noticed an increase in attention towards the raw materials used, thanks to various aspects, including the explosion of the cooking phenomenon on TV, which has also brought greater attention to our sector, and the Florence Cocktail Week, an event which over the years has become a fixed event for enthusiasts and professionals in the sector. Today, compared to a few years ago, the public relies more on the bartender to be amazed and to learn about new raw materials and combinations.
Have new local spirits been created over time in addition to the traditional ones?
Yes, many local products have been created over the years. Initially it was the turn of the gins, then the vermouth and now the botanicals. Several companies have relied on bartenders to create products aimed at professionals in the sector.
What type of format is Move On?
The Move On is a combination of a vinyl shop and a high-class pub. With my arrival, the offer of the latter was renewed, with an even greater attention to products and cocktails, which almost prevail over beer, an increasingly frequent scenario in the concept of contemporary pub, where in addition to excellent beer offer, you are served bistro cuisine and excellent cocktails and spirits. The furnishings, however, have remained unchanged, with 60 seats distributed over two floors and an enviable view of the Duomo and the Baptistery.
Why did you choose to work in a pub and what type of mix do you offer at Move On compared to La Ménagère?
Because it was a first step to join this group, through a project in which I could express myself at my best. I think it is stimulating both the idea of being able to work in a young and lively environment, in a tourist square where we can make the Florentines think again about the quality of the offer proposed, and because the company has several projects in progress. The cocktails I make here are 'fresher' and easier to understand. I use the most common raw materials, retouched in a non-trivial way.
How is the cocktail list structured? What can you eat with it?
The cocktail list is divided into three sections: Drink classic, where we offer 9 international drinks, the Evergreen, 3 cocktails that we always have on the menu including the On Spritz, a twist with citron, orange, lemon, grapefruit, cucumber, zest of lime, seasonal fruit, and Signature cocktails, 6 musically themed mixes. On this last page of the menu the drinks are inspired by music, with a QR code next to each one, which refers to the relevant song. In the cocktail I try to recreate the same sensation you get listening to that particular melody. In combination, we serve an international menu, from which you can choose croutons, salads, burgers, snacks, and around ten dishes, including starters, first courses and second courses.
What cocktail do you identify with most?
One of the most representative cocktails for me is One More Time. It is inspired by the 90s dance song of the same name and I make it with Italicus, vodka, pineapple and coriander extract, aquafaba, vanilla sugar syrup, Matcha tea powder. It has a green color, which brings to mind the period in which the song was born and in which vodka, which I chose to use in this cocktail, was in vogue.