In the Milanese branch of one of the most important global hotel chains, the Four Seasons Hotel, the counter of the Lounge & Bar Il Foyer is managed by a bar manager who, despite many trips and work experiences abroad, remains strongly linked to his homeland, Tuscany. We are talking about Luca Angeli, a professional with great managerial competence, an essential characteristic for the job of bar manager in a large luxury hotel.
Good morning Luca, let's retrace your professional path. Where did you start from to become the bar manager of the Four Seasons Milano?
I am originally from Carrara and I have been undertaking this work for almost twenty years now, when I became passionate about mixing seeing my aunt, at the time a competitor in the AIBES (Italian Association of Barmen and Supporters) competitions. After working in some places in the summer seasons in Versilia and in my aunt's place in Valle d'Aosta, I started traveling around the world: England, Milan, Russia, Versilia, Florence, where I stayed at the Four Seasons from 2011 to 2016, and then Milan, where I have held the role of bar manager for 4 years.
What are the characteristics of a bar manager of a large luxury hotel? Advantages and disadvantages of this role?
The bar manager is a role that involves many responsibilities but what I consider to be one of the essential characteristics for those who want to do this job is knowing how to relate to people, immediately and best understanding the person in front of them and what expectations they have, to what type of experience are you looking for? No less important is the relationship with your staff: creating a team of people who collaborate with each other in a pleasant working environment, committing yourself to managing everything, continuously creating great harmony. Experimenting, researching, always keeping an eye on the outside to be updated and in step with the times, and nourishing and cultivating a lot of passion for the profession.
Is the type of clientele at the Foyer more tied to the hotel or is there a good turnout of external visitors too?
The customers of the Bar & Lounge Il Foyer are mostly Milanese and local, regulars of our splendid internal garden during the summer months and of the Sala Camino, which promptly during the Christmas holidays is transformed, thanks to the installations of the Event Designer Vincenzo Dascanio, into a suggestive Urban Mountain Chalet. Even international guests prefer to experience the hotel's spaces, the best way to breathe the glamorous and cosmopolitan air of Milan.
Are there differences between the tastes and cocktails preferred by Italian and foreign customers?
Guests being very varied have different preferences, certainly a foreign customer is more inclined to taste some signature cocktails than some international classics. The Martini cocktail is a must in the hotel, the Negroni in its variations is having worldwide success. The culture of Italian customers has grown a lot in recent years, in the search for quality, 0 km products. There is a desire to try twists on the most classic cocktails, such as the Spritz, the Americano, etc.
How is a drink list created?
The drink list is born with a brain storming on the aims of the project, followed by a focus on the theme of the drink list. We certainly have company guidelines to refer to, but also the freedom to follow and develop our creativity and philosophy while respecting the corporate image.
What characteristics distinguish your mixing?
My cocktails are linked to my native territory, Tuscany, and to where I work, Milan, with particular attention to small local producers and with an eye on international trends.
Have you collaborated with some companies? You participated inalso to some competition of mixing?
Collaboration with companies is essential, in order to offer our guests high-level products, for the possibility of working with innovations that come out on the market. On a personal level, I am part of the Belvedere Collective with which I created the Heritage Gimlet cocktail – Belvedere Heritage 176, Italicus, lime juice, sugar, soda – and I had the opportunity to participate in several important competitions. In 2009 I won the Nino Cedroni trophy with the Nana cocktail, made with sake, Grand Marnier cordon rouge, fig syrup and served in a cocktail glass – one of the first sake-based cocktails to have won a national competition – so I participated in several AIBES competitions Among the latter, in 2012 I won the Barman of the Year award for the association, with the “Once upon a time” cocktail, made with Gray Goose L'Orange, Passoa, Aperol, Mango Juice, papaya syrup , Lemonsoda and Himalayan pink salt. In 2016 I reached the national final of the Bacardi Grand Prix 2016, with the Marigold cocktail, prepared with Bombay Gin, Martini Riserva speciali Ambrato, lemon bitters, Prosecco Martini Sigillo Blu and served in a cocktail glass with ice balls and edible flowers.
What is the most ordered cocktail?
The Vintage Negroni. It is our reinterpretation of the well-known cocktail with Gin Bombay, Campari Bitter, Carpano Riserva Speciale, and a mix of spices. Rosemary with Belvedere infused in rosemary, Italicus, Prosecco, grapefruit soda.
And your favorite?
I think that every occasion has its cocktail, I am a lover of both classics and experiments, but if I want to relax a Vodka Martini is what I prefer.