Valentino Longo is the most creative bartender in the world
Valentino Longo, a young bartender from Rome, was elected as Most Imaginative Bartender for 2020 in the Bombay Sapphire Gin contest.
How do you translate imaginative in Italian? The question is Valentino Longo , born in Rome in 1988, bartender profession . He actually speaks English well, on the other hand he lives and works in Miami,valentino is the winner of the 2020 competition organized by bombay sapphire ginbut he learned the language in London, when the classic experience of a few months turned into a much longer stay. Indeed, the answer to your question is not obvious. Literally it would be imaginative , but we could also say imaginative or creative. You do, but choose the translation that best suits Most Imaginative Bartender For 2020 . This is the title conquered by Valentino (for North America), in the annual contest organized by Bombay Sapphire Gin, in collaboration with the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation. If you think it is one of the many sector championships you are off track: it is a complex race, for a truly prestigious award. And then we just have to swell our chest with pride, as in the Olympics for every medal won by our compatriots, and celebrate this victory.
From the beginning in Miami
Valentino was born as a commis at the Hotel de Russie , with Massimo D’addezio , but he often finds himself behind the counter. A spark is triggered in him, which leads him to England for 3 years, with the aim of growing professionally. “When my wife, who does the same job as me, received a proposal from Co.So al Pigneto, I decided to return to Rome too and I found myself working in a place called La Moderna. I started organizing events with other guest bartenders, but also swing music nights. The moment they opened a second office in Miami, they sent me to Florida. For a year I managed both venues going back and forth. Now I’m at the Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club, inside which there is the restaurant Le Sirenuse which is connected to the boutique hotel of the same name in Positano ”, he says.
Each bartender was asked what their greatest passion was in the field of creativity (beyond mixology) and to be inspired in some way by it. “ I chose photography. I’ve always shot because my father was a professional photographer and he instilled a certain interest in this art. ” The competition lasted a total of nine months , during which Valentino competed with colleagues from all over North America. “ I passed the quarter-finals at home in Miami, then the semifinals in Nashville, Texas where there were 24 of us and 12 qualified for the final in Chicago “.
The three final tests were held in the Windy City . The first was to create a drink starting from a series of pre-established ingredients. In the second, the competitors presented, in front of a jury of entrepreneurs, a project to be carried out with the cash prize up for grabs. ” The idea that I brought to the presence of the jurors is to create a members club for bartenders only: a sort of private school with a bookshop, cafeteria and training rooms “. Finally, there was the third challenge, the most important one: the creation of a new cocktail , based on Gin Bombay Sapphire, inspired by the chosen theme .
“ Taking a good photo means balancing four elements: the light, the shadows, the subject and the contrast. For each of them I matched an ingredient of my cocktail. In the case of light I thought of something that had a relationship with the sun and therefore I chose a bergamot liqueur. Sherry, on the other hand, is a product that needs darkness to develop its typical aromatic sensations. The subject was obviously gin, while I sought part of the contrast in the decoration: a drop of coconut-infused olive oil and a drop of coffee-flavored balsamic vinegar. I called it The decisive moment (the decisive moment) which is also the title of a book by the great photographer Cartier Bresson, in this case it is the moment in which the connection between client and bartender is created “,says Valentino.