A well-known character at The Rubens at the Palace and the resident authority on spirits and cocktails, Leopard Bar Manager Angelo Gobbi, has almost three decades of experience behind the bar. Here, Angelo chats to us about the newly relaunched Leopard Bar, his passion for whisky and his top tips for budding mixologists.
How long have you worked for Red Carnation Hotels?
“I’ve been here for about one year. My career before that was mostly spent working at five-star hotels in London’s West End as a whisky sommelier and bar manager for about 27 years. I’ve hugely enjoyed working on the opening of the new Leopard Bar this summer, which offers a jazz bar atmosphere with a fantastic Champagne and whisky selection and an experience that’s a little different to the norm.”
Talk us through a typical day for you?
“I arrive at the hotel at around 3pm. I’ll check in with the office first before heading to the bar to prepare for the evening ahead. We open at 5pm, which means it’s time to welcome guests, chat to them and make them feel at home. Including tiny noticeable touches where possible is must. For example, if a couple are celebrating an anniversary, I’ll make sure there’s a cake for them. It’s these details that let visitors know we’ve gone the extra mile for them. After closing down the bar, I usually leave just after midnight.”
How do you come up with ideas for new cocktails?
“I’m often inspired by my friends in the industry, by talking to them and exchanging ideas. We sometimes go to events with suppliers, which often leads to some inspiration. I also keep an eye on what the current trends are and what drinks people are ordering. Fresh produce is key and I’m often lead by what’s in season as well as new, innovative ideas.”
What have been your career highlights so far?
“As a whisky sommelier, I was invited by David Cameron to do a whisky tasting at the House of Commons for members of parliament, which was a special moment for me. At the Rubens, I’m also very proud to have started the Gin Experience, which has become a favourite with guests. I’m also excited to introduce the Whisky Experience to The Leopard Bar.”
What drinks are you really enjoying making at the moment?
“I’m really enjoying making Champagne cocktails, as we serve several varieties from the classic version to a French 75 and the Twinkle. However, whisky really is my passion and I love to introduce visitors to new and lesser-known styles.”
What bar essentials should every home be stocked with?
“Basic spirits such as gin, vodka, rum and whisky, a cocktail shaker and mixing glass and fresh products—fruit, herbs and, of course, plenty of ice!”
Are there any cocktail making no nos that budding mixologists should always avoid?
“Firstly, avoid putting anything sparkling inside a cocktail shaker unless you’re prepared for it to explode in your face! Secondly, like cooking, don’t try to overcomplicate things by putting too many ingredients inside a cocktail. Beginners should keep it simple, by sticking to two or three ingredients, and you’ll have a much better chance of creating something nice.”
Image Credits: Lead image © Red Carnation Hotels. Leopard Bar © Red Carnation Hotels. Champagne bottles © iStock/flyparade. Whiskey tasting © iStock/gyro.