Drinks with Amaro Bar
Elon Soddu is the co-owner of AMARO BAR a stylish intimate cocktail bar on High Street Kensington. Formerly at The Savoy, we caught up with Elon one month into the new opening to find out more.
In uncertain times it takes courage to leave an established employer and set up your own bar, what was the impetus?
I had already left The Savoy before this opportunity came along and really I was supposed to take a break! After 6 years of working for a large employer, I felt I wanted to be more in control of my own environment and when I returned to The Savoy after the pandemic I knew that my heart was no longer in the same place and so it would be better to give someone else the opportunity to step in and embrace that environment.
How did AMARO Bar come about?
After leaving The Savoy a close colleague invited me to support some private events. On the second event I met my now business partner! As the only two Italians in the room we got chatting, he had a site and wanted to open a bar, the next day I visited and felt there was a real opportunity as in this area they don’t really have any cocktail bars in this style and four months later we opened the building.
The bar has quite contrasting characteristics, can you elaborate on that?
We wanted to create a combination of five-star experiences in a neighbourhood bar setting. The back bar, the toilets, a lot of the finishes are very luxurious but you are greeted at the entrance with our colourful and playful tiki wall. We did the design ourselves using large signage outside and went for a bold and bright exterior signage as this space was not a bar before and so we need to tell people that we are here.
You opened at the beginning of December, how was that?
We opened the day before the Worlds 50 Best Bar awards which were being hosted in London which I was nervous about but actually, friends from around the world came to visit and see the new space and it proved to be a great launchpad for ourselves, it was a great honour that so many people took their time to come out to South Kensington to come and visit us, the area is not really a destination area for bars, yet!
What makes a great cocktail bar for you?
I think consistency is really important particularly for a cocktail bar. If that’s your focus then customers need to be able to get the same drink and quality of service no matter when they come to the bar. We were able to open with a very experienced team which was a great benefit for us particularly opening in December.
For someone thinking of opening a bar what advice would you give them?
- Go for it, you will only learn through the process. We opened at a difficult time, the pandemic and general issues in the industry but we have a long term view of things.
- I would also say you need to let the bar find itself, we thought we might be selling a lot of champagne and gin and tonics considering the area but actually, we are selling 95% cocktails.
- Don’t be afraid to ask people for help. Alan Sherwood the owner of Little Mercies was incredibly helpful with great advice. I would also say not to take too much-unsolicited advice, everyone has an opinion but make sure they are talking from a position of experience 😊
So as we are in January what do you think people will be drinking this year?
Although I can’t say it’s a prediction for the year I am surprised at how many people have come in referencing dry January and asking for non-alcoholic cocktails, it is definitely a growing movement.
If you had to recommend a cocktail at home for the aspiring bartender what would it be?
I would recommend The Red Hook, a simple drink with three ingredients, Rye Whisky, Maraschino and Punt E Mes, it has an amazing complexity of flavour made with easy to purchase ingredients. I would describe it as a modern classic created by Vincenzo Errico formerly of Milk and Honey New York.
Is there a cocktail book you would recommend for people at home?
Regarding Cocktails by the late Sasha Petraske and finished by his wife, I enjoyed it because it explains the classics very well and brings to life the stories of some of the modern classics for example the Paper Plane and The Penicillin.
Which drink would you like to highlight from the Amaro Bars current menu?
The Mango Bellini has just come onto the menu 3 days ago which tastes great, bourbon, fermented mango cordial, mango liqueur and prosecco, clarified and then re-carbonated.
To make the cordial we add mango chunks and a dash of salt into a sous vide machine for 6 days, and then use a thermo mixer (and temperature controlled blender).
Any hopes and dreams for 2022?
I would love for the Kensington area to develop into a destination area for cocktails. Publiq. is just around the corner and serves excellent drinks and food and we are working together to try and raise awareness of the area , we probably just need one more cocktail focussed venue and then cocktail lovers have a little circuit here in an area that previously didn’t really have anything. This has been the most consistent feedback from customers so far, they are just very happy to see a cocktail bar in the neighbourhood.