London-based Agostino Schiavo cracks myths and reveals secrets about bartending
Agostino Schiavo is the head bartender at The Arts Club in London. If you haven’t heard of it, the private club in Mayfair founded in 1863, boasted high profile members such as authors Charles Dickens and Anthony Trollope. The bartender was in Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru for the Beluga Vodka Masterclass event and we caught up with him about myths and secrets of the business and his experiments with Indian spices.
What sparked your interest in bartending?
I was born in Italy, on the gorg-eous Island of Ischia. I always felt fascinated watching bartenders working behind the bar. It has a very special energy, compared to the kitchen, where everything is a bit more tense. At the bar, you have fun, experiment and talk to your guests. It is a new experience every single day.
What is one misconception that people have about vodka?
Most people believe that vodka is too strong for them. I recommend the Beluga vodka at room temperature, neat. Most of my customers are blown away by how smooth and subtly sweet the product is. It has character, texture, a complex palate and lasting finish.
Which unusual flavours pair well with vodka?
Lately, I have discovered fermented tea from Asia and I enjoy experimenting with it. Quite unexpected, but it works wonders in combination with vodka.
Which is the most memorable drink you’ve had?
During my trip to New York last year, I visited the famous Milk and Honey bar. One of the drinks that really made me go ‘wow,’ was a cocktail called Penicillin, which is whiskey, honey, ginger syrup and ginger liqueur.
What are some bartender’s secrets that customers don’t know about?
Customers might not even think about it but we always read our guests to make sure we deliver
top-notch service to them. In The Arts Club, we even keep files on our regular guests which makes their stay with us outstanding.
This is your time first time in India. Are you looking to explore some local flavours?
It is my first time in India, however, I am not entirely new to the culture because we have many members from this beautiful country in The Arts Club. I expect to get a lot of inspiration from Indian flavours and heritage. I want to discover the world of Indian spices and play with them. Of course, you can find everything in London, but that is a completely different story from what you have here. I expect to learn something new from more than 150 bartenders I will meet during my three-day trip.