In a first, India will play host to mixologists from three of the World’s 50 Best Bars at the Vault Home Bar Festival in Mumbai. Ahead of its maiden evening, Travel+Leisure India & South Asia gets in touch with Guiseppe and Matteo from Barcelona’s Paradiso, the current World #1 Bar, to find out more about the two-day festival, the exclusive cocktails that will feature on the menu, and more.
The mixology scene is a fast-evolving one. With many foraying into the world of experimentation and curated cocktails, others stick to the classic concoctions that have been loved by drink connoisseurs for long. Taking note of this dynamic industry and the exciting world of cocktails is the upcoming Vault Home Bar Festival in Mumbai.
The Vault Home Bar Festival
What is it?
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Dubbed as the most anticipated spirits festivals in Asia, the two-day heady affair promises to bring together world-class distillers, global industry experts, and F&B pioneers. Amid all this, guests would also get a chance to taste, discover, listen, and indulge in handcrafted spirits, engage with master craftsmen, and explore the finer nuances of curating a personal home bar.
When is it?
The Vault Home Bar Festival will take place on February 25 and 26 at the Jio World Garden, Mumbai.
Who will be there?
Not only will the who’s-who of the spirits world join in for the celebrations and engaging conversations, but the festival also has a dedicated evening — called Indulge — where mixologists from three bars that regularly feature on the World’s 50 Best Bars list will come to India for the first time. This includes the head mixologists from the current World #1 Bar, Paradiso, from Barcelona; Lost+Found Drinkery, from Cyprus; and Le Club, from Japan.
Ahead of the highly-anticipated spirits festival, Travel+Leisure India & South Asia got in touch with Guiseppe and Matteo from Paradiso, the bar’s head mixologists, to understand what to expect during the heady evenings.
Excerpts from the interview with Guiseppe and Matteo from Paradiso
T+L India: How would you describe the Vault Home Bar Festival?
Guiseppe: We’re already very excited for it, even though the festival has not started officially. We’ve already met some of the guys from the spirits world, and they’re amazing! Everyone, including the organisers, are very friendly. This is our first time doing something like this, so we’re very excited.
T+L India: How did you get associated with the festival?
Guiseppe: Last year, a journalist named Priyanka visited Paradiso. She was touring Europe to showcase a brand of Indian gin. She got talking with Paradiso’s owner, Giacomo Giannotti, and a few months later, they proposed we come to India. And that’s how we got to know about the guys at Vault, the organisers of the Vault Home Bar Festival.
T+L India: How did you curate the menu for the festival?
Matteo: Firstly, we had to find a way to incorporate the brands of alcohol. Then we decided that we had to include iconic cocktails from Paradiso as well as include the tastes of the local Indian palate. We had to adapt the drinks based on the products and ingredients from India. So, we’ve got some fresh fruits and some spices, too. This is our first time in India, and no one from Paradiso has come to India before either. We looked around the markets to try new things and adapt the flavours accordingly. We hope it’s going to be good!
T+L India: What drinks can we expect to find on the menu during the festival?
Guiseppe: We’ll be serving three cocktails, two of which will be whisky-based. We thought about it a lot and are hoping to create a connection between India and Spain. The third drink, a gin-based cocktail, is a very drink. The iconic drink from Paradiso is not commonly seen here. You may have seen it on Instagram, but you don’t know what’s actually going on in the drink till you actually try it. It’s spectacular!
T+L India: How did you get into mixology?
Matteo: I started in the kitchen and then moved onto the floor to wait tables. In those seven years, I started to study a lot about bartending. I started with helping in the bar in the mornings, and gradually moved to the evening. Since then, I’ve not stopped. It’s an exciting place to be for sure!
Guiseppe: It’s more or less the same for me. I started with studying at a hospitality school at a young age. Since I come from a small town, I didn’t know much about the bartending world. When I moved out of Spain, that was the first time I saw well-dressed bartenders. I remember watching them and enjoying what they were doing. Plus, I find bartending and cooking has a connection. I enjoy creating food and making people happy. But sometimes the people who work in the kitchen are always behind-the-scenes, so they don’t see people. With bartending, that’s not the case. It’s a union of both worlds. With bartending, you can see whether people like the drinks you’ve made. It’s nice to see people having a good time.
T+L India: Paradiso is number 1 on The World’s 50 Best Bars. Does this title add pressure to stay consistent or keep reinventing?
Guiseppe: Each year, we try to give it our best. But, yes, it’s definitely an added pressure as each year gets harder. We have to find ways to surprise our guests. One of our main goals is not to give something to drink; it’s to give an experience. Each year, we change the menu. We travel, we work with other restaurants and people who are not in the same industry. It is hard to stay on the top but our goal will always remain to make people happy.
T+L India: You mentioned that you change the menu every year. What’s the process like?
Matteo: We start the process at least eight months in advance. The team starts thinking about the cocktail, the concepts, the ingredients, presentations, and the garnish. We study these things step-by-step and help each other out. The brainstorming process is not just for the bartenders though; we include everyone! In a way, we keep pushing each other to keep doing better and better.
Guiseppe: It’s always a teamwork!
T+L India: What’s the most exciting thing about the mixology scene?
Matteo: I think, travelling. I enjoy discovering new cultures and ingredients, and making new friends. I love trying something new.
T+L India: Speaking about travelling, does travelling inspire your drinks in any way?
Guiseppe: Always! For example, during our time in India right now, we’ve discovered a lot of different spices and citruses. When you travel, you learn about people’s drinking habits. We try to some local and fresh ingredients whenever we travel and try using them. So, for sure! Travelling always inspires us to make new drinks and experiment.
T+L India: What are you most excited about for your time in Mumbai?
Matteo: This is our first time in India. We saw a little bit of the spice market and the flower market. It’s amazing! It’s completely different from the European culture.
Guiseppe: The markets were very crowded, but everyone was really nice. We’re very excited to see more!
T+L India: Are there any special foods you’re hoping to try in Mumbai?
T+L India: Barcelona aside, which places do you love for their bar scene?
Matteo: London. There’s a lot of great bars there and it has been the capital of drinking for years.
Guiseppe: I think Africa deserves to be in the bar scene, too. You don’t get to see drinks from that region often and I’m sure that’s going to evolve.
T+L India: What is your go-to drink?
Matteo: I love whisky. If I’m having whisky, then I don’t need ice or water. If I’m having a cocktail, then maybe an old-fashioned, penicillin, or boulevardier.
Guiseppe: I like a simple Gin and Tonic. It’s only three ingredient: gin, lime and tonic.
If you, too, would like to try the two mixologists’ stellar creations, join them and a host of other spirits enthusiasts at the upcoming Vault Home Bar Festival. Grab your tickets here.
Related: T+L Tastemakers: Mixologist Of The Year Yangdup Lama Talks About His Career And The Bartending Scene In India