A Six Million Dollar Cocktail

Jigger Cocktail Bar opened in Bilbao, Spain

Mixology is a great opportunity to transform your hotel bar service in new liturgies. With this tweet, I celebrated the arrival of an exceptional bartender, Diego Cabrera, to the digital “joint” of the Ruina Habitada (my Inhabited Ruin in Spain). I’ve never been in his bar, in order not to commit the sacrilege of ordering my favorite drink after wine and beer. A gin and tonic, please! But I’ve joined up with him at some Madrid balls, especially the one he encouraged me to hold more than three years ago along with other well-known bartenders to debate on the bar’s space in hotels. Rethinking the bar was the name of the gathering sponsored by the French Champagne brand Mumm. Besides Cabrera, the event was attended by Carlos Moreno, Javier Rufo, Óscar Durán, Francesco Cavagionni, DJ Johan Walt and interior designer Lorenzo Castillo. The conclusion of that group reflection could be nothing other than what was expressed again in that tweet of initiation: mixology offers hotels a spectacular opportunity to connect with their customers through their razzmatazz.

Not just any mixology, of course. Everyone invited to that debate are vastly solvent as creative bartenders. They are original in their demeanor. They are managers of their own business and actors in a show which, in times past, identified the hotel industry that was lost when real estate developers understood that a hotel’s business was selling beds. Now that these real estate moguls are through and the hotel industry is no longer looked at as a mattress plant, it is now time to start some serious recycling in the direction of the hotel experience construed as an emotion mill. We have repeated it tirelessly at our #hotel2020 seminars.

One of the most obvious resources is hotel renovation by the High Priests of the Bar. It’s the magic of creating, mixing, shaking, abracadabra, and finally, tada! Serving a cocktail. Few other shows express better than this one – the transformation of the old idea of service – serving through the new concept of a ritual and wowing patrons. Maybe the art of peeling an orange on the guéridon, in plain view, and without touching the fruit bears, the same degree of service as a sleight-of-hand trick. Maybe arranging a bouquet and having it sent to the room by a bevy of vestal virgins is the maximum expression of esthetic refinement at establishments such as the Amanresorts luxury hotel chain. Maybe closing a swimming pool without fencing it in, placing a blanket of traveler’s joy or lotus flowers on the surface of the water to suggest a scene from a Polovtsian Dance.

But what is certain is that the orchestration of color, light, sound, vapors, flavors and textures of a cocktail powerfully draw our attention. Yes, even the hard-hearted who order a ginless gin and tonic. Leo Robitschek’s theater at the NoMad in New York confirms this. There is no bartender with his skill in the entire city. You have to watch him act at The Library, the sotto luce bar at this fashionable hotel. Without verging on circus antics, his skill in wielding the shaker attracts not only James Bond fans (“shaken, not stirred”), but also the general public as if Fura dels Baus acted in a sidewalk display window. Such is his success in handling the scene that the bar will be extended this summer to an adjacent establishment, only 40 square meters, that the NoMad’s owners were forced to purchase for the meager price of… six million dollars!

Because as Diego Cabrera, Carlos Moreno, Leo Robitschek and company well know, a show cocktail at a fashionable hotel is priceless.

Fernando Gallardo |

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