A highly respected creative wonderman, Massimo Zitti, is now Chief Bartender at Cane & Grain, Manchester. Here he gives us all an insight into his background, his inspiration and his favourite London bars.
Shall we say ‘bartender’ or ‘mixologist’?
Same terminology, different decades! When I started in Rome you were a barman, working in a coffee bar, making cocktail classics. Then you become a bartender, working at night, no more making coffees (only drinking caffeine!).
How did you get started in the industry?
I’ve always been a massive food aficionado, that kind of kid that will go to the grandma saying “what’s that?”, how did you make this? Etc. When it comes to mixology I’m self-taught and to be honest – I believe if you’re passionate about something then you can achieve. Life is the best school.
What’s one of the most important lessons you learned?
To Listen. Just like music... Listen. If you listen you’ll learn, mess it up and make it yours.
What or who inspires you?
Inspiration comes from youth, naivety and truth… I’m inspired by people who believe in things others didn’t. In our industry… those who made what we do an art. From “The Professor” Jerry Thomas, moving through Ago Perrone till Marian Beke.
What’s your favourite drink?
It’s always linked with what the bar I’m drinking offers. The serve should reflect the nature of the bar… Loved the “Kunfu Panda” at The Artesian for example…
Any London bars you keep going back to?
The American Bar, Spiritual…I need to get to Gibson soon too.
What unusual ingredients have you experimented with in your cocktails?
Re-distilled Miso paste Liquor, blended with Amontillado Sherry. Home-made passata, spices and herbs. Or Rosemary Effleurage —- amazing to create scented ice cubes…
What inspires you when you're making up a new cocktail?
FUN… fun, curiosity, trials and mistakes! Every day is a new discovery.