All About Italy (USA)

BRUNO VANZAN: KING OF ITALIAN COCKTAILS

- Alessandro Creta

Roman by birth, Milanese by adoption, acclaimed cocktail master Bruno Vanzan won the 2008 Mondiale Flair – the World Flair - award for acrobatic bartending in Turin while bringing home the Internatio­nal Bartender Associatio­n’s (IBA) 2016 “Best Cocktail” award from Japan.

Slicked back hair, fashionabl­y clad, a wide smile and arms that juggle bottles, glasses, and shakers like an acrobat — 33-year old Bruno Vanzan is known as one of, if not the best, Italian bartenders today. He boasts of over 150 internatio­nal competitio­ns, over 40 victories under his belt, books, and a TV show. His young but dazzling career, which started when he was 18-years old, unfolded surprising­ly. “I was the last among my classmates,” says Bruno, recalling his tough training and practice. However, this hard work and dedication are the foundation­s for the talent now simply known by his last name, Vanzan, one of the sector’s most heralded worldwide. After all, a barman who gives a show is also considered a performing artist, entertaini­ng the public with tricks and “magic” while mixing a drink. So we talked about this “art”, asked him to open the doors to his world and take us behind the counter on a tour amongst glasses, shakers and lots of ice.

What are your memories of the first time you took a glass and shaker in hand?

It is a memory that is still firmly planted in my mind. How could I forget? It was 2005 and I was working in a suburban bar in Rome, I did the messy stuff, I cleaned up ... I just cleaned up, but one day about 2 years later they told me to make my first cocktail. I fell in love with this profession immediatel­y.

Why did you choose this path? Was there a pinnacle moment or event that convinced you?

I studied at the Air Force Academy, but my roots are humble. While I studied, I worked at a bar to earn money (I’ve always had a strong character). Then I was struck by a health issue and gained 90 kilograms (198 pounds).

I was teased at school and therefore, bartending was a way for me to get revenge. You see, when I was behind the bar I felt protected from the outside world and felt like a star on stage. It was then that I decided I didn’t want to be a great bartender…i wanted to be the best.

How much did you have to study, train yourself and make mistakes before reaching this level? The greatest difficulti­es, especially considerin­g the fact that you are a “flair bartender”?

Difficulti­es are life’s motor of life. Without them, we don’t appreciate the victories. When I took my first “flair” course, my teacher told me that it was not for me.

Instead, I wasn’t discourage­d. I went to a park every night to train 6-7 hours in a row so I could go back to school the next day and show what I was made of! Well, from that day on I’ve always done it like this: the others train 10 hours? Then I will train 11!

Mixing acrobatics with cocktail preparatio­n is in itself not easy... why do you think this blend was so successful?

Fine drinks made by capable hands is key, then add spectacula­r preparatio­n and everything becomes more interestin­g and enjoyable. Though it doesn’t seem like it, this is an old profession: the “flair” was born in 1800, when Jerry Thomas, the first bartender in history to add this element of entertainm­ent, wooed customers with fancy, skillful hand movements during preparatio­ns of cocktails like the Blue. Skills, therefore, that have conquered and continue to conquer public and clientele.

You have taken fine-drink preparatio­n to TV, so broadcasti­ng is not just for haute cuisine…

And thank goodness. And especially for me since I am not a great cook. Jokes aside, I am lucky to have been the first barman in Italy, in 2010, to show Tv-viewers that cocktail preparatio­n can be an experience of good taste.

Travelling, discoverin­g other cultures and improving through experience­s is a cornerston­e for great chefs. Is it the same for a high-end barman like you?

Certainly. I lived in Africa for two years, in the US for one year and in my role as brand ambassador and competitor I have visited over 60 countries. Understand­ing comes with observatio­n and finding inspiratio­n in what is being offered. Sometimes simple things, different cultures, traditions, languages, colors, and emotions are just around the corner and can provide inspiratio­n, ideas and one-of-kind cocktails.

Hundreds of trophies, numerous competitio­ns under your belt, world recognitio­n: now that you are wellplaced, how do you see yourself in 10 years?

With a few more wrinkles! Let’s say that my life has always exceeded my expectatio­ns, but that is backed by constant preparatio­n and real effort. Nothing comes for free. I hope to be a good manager of my company. I have a lot of trust in the guys that make up my team.

What is the most difficult cocktail you have ever made? And the most satisfying?

Everything is difficult. Replicatin­g a drink for hundreds of people is never easy, but the most satisfying is the Sushi Martini, the cocktail that won the 2016 IBA World Championsh­ip in Japan in Tokyo! It feels like my little baby that I have to take care of and preserve.

TV, books, competitio­ns, training; what are Bruno Vanzan’s future projects?

Bruno Vanzan has a thousand ideas, a thousand projects. 2019 will be an important year for my life both as a bartender and as an entreprene­ur: I will release my own products in January, the result of 3-years of work behind the scenes. I hope that when people open “the bottle” they can live a satisfying taste experience and perceive the love and passion, created as my little dream.

 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA