A few steps from Piazza di Spagna and Villa Borghese, inside the historic 5-star hotel The Westin Excelsior located in the legendary Via Veneto, the bar manager of Orvm Bar Angelo Donnaloia. In the Art Deco style room, furnished with architectural details and furniture from different parts of the world, the protagonists are the classic cocktails, above all the Cardinal and its variants, of the current president of AIBES (Italian Association of Barmen and Supporters), who we decided to interview.
Good morning Angelo, can you tell us about your professional path? What experiences have marked you most during your career?
I started learning the basics of bar work when I was young, in Rome, when I started working in some places owned by my father. After graduating, I followed several AIBES training courses, the first of which was at 18, and a year later I started my career in hotel facilities. If I have to mention a mentor, the first was certainly my father, who raised me and accompanied me towards this sector. I also owe a lot, a lot, to AIBES, which I joined 25 years ago now, to the Jolly Hotel and to the Holiday Inn.
When did you arrive at the Westin Excelsior? What peculiarities characterize the Orvm Bar proposal?
I've been at the Westin since late '99. I joined as bar commis and, year after year, I climbed the hierarchies until I covered, since 2016, the role of bar manager of Orvm Bar. Here we offer cocktails built on a classic line, since we are inside a hotel 112 years, with some breaking and new elements, such as our essences, which we use to flavor Martinis and, above all, the Cardinal, our iconic cocktail. Even though we have an international clientele, people often decide to rely on us because we manage to stimulate their interest in trying a cocktail that is not one of the great classics.
The most popular cocktail of all, at Orvm Bar, is the Cardinal. How was it born and how is it prepared?
The Cardinal was born at the hotel in 1950. The recipe was suggested to the bartender Giovanni Raimondo by an American cardinal, the sixth archbishop of New York Francis Joseph Spellman. The idea was also greatly appreciated by other customers and the cocktail was so successful, both in Italy and abroad, to the point of becoming the "Dolce Vita" cocktail. It is still the most requested cocktail today. We prepare it both in the traditional variant, with Dry Gin, Riesling, Campari Bitter and lemon zest, and in other variants. If among these we also include the possibility of using essences, then the possibilities are many more.
His other major work commitment is AIBES. When was she born? What is its purpose? What are the objectives?
AIBES is a large family, a non-profit association that operates at 360° in the world of bartending, the largest and most important in Italy since 1949. As per the statute, the main purpose of the association is to raise the level and the professional prestige of the barmen so that they can adequately participate in the distribution of drinking, respecting the moral and health requirements of our country and in the interests of its tourism. From the beginning, it has worked to disseminate good drinking and conscious drinking, with an eye on the educational growth of barmen. This is what we are continuing to do today, but with an eye to the future and a more modern appeal, without forgetting our history.
When did your journey in the association begin and how long have you been president?
I joined AIBES at the age of 19 and, right from the start, I always believed in it a lot. At the beginning I offered my contribution at regional conferences then, 12 years ago, I became deputy trustee of the Lazio-Umbria section. After that, I became a national councilor in 2015 and, two terms ago, I ran for president. I became one in July 2017 and was confirmed for the second term, which will last 4 years instead of 3, in September this year.
In 1949, the year the organization was founded, there were 23 members. How many are there now and what services do you offer them?
At the moment there are just under 2000 associated barmen, a number that has been growing for a few years. We offer them a wide variety of services: from training masters to the possibility of participating in the national competition. The winners of the local competitions compete in the regional championships and whoever manages to prevail in the latter participates in the national phase. The winner wins the International Bartenders Association (IBA) world final.
The 71st AIBES national conference was recently held at the Padua Fair. Has there been any difference compared to previous years? Who won this edition?
Despite all the difficulties involved, this year too we managed to organize a great event, the only one at a national level in the sector in 2020. As in every edition of the conference, there was an association meeting, with approval of the budget , and the most awaited moment of the occasion, the final phase of the competition, this year organized not individually but in regional teams. The team from Piedmont prevailed, led by the regional trustee Debora Zenevre and made up of four competitors: the owner of the Tricksy Cocktail of Savigliano Guido Mazzetti, Antonio Marteddu of the Professional Training Agency "Colline Artigiane" Hotel School of Asti, Mario Cristina of Tom Tom Cafè of Gattico-Veruno and the barlady and owner of D.One in Turin Vanessa Vialardi.
How have relationships with companies evolved in this historical moment? What are the association's future plans?
As an association, we will never stop thanking the companies because, this year too, they have all confirmed their support. Indeed, since last year they have increased, demonstrating that they understand the difficulties of the sector. In 2021 we have several training initiatives planned, for which we expect a renewal, and the publication of professional books. We will carry out all activities, regional and national, focusing our efforts on digital: both for training courses and for board meetings.
What is your favorite cocktail?
The dry Martini cocktail with a lemon twist, but I also love the variations of classic cocktails, like my Misty Rose Martini with rose essence and drops of St. Germain.