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May 21, 2024

Tommaso Cecca: ‘India’s cocktail culture over the past five years has been remarkable’

Schenelle Dsouza 
One of the more popular spirits today, Campari is a favourite for many. And while it is mostly used in a Negroni, Campari has made its way into other creative concoctions as well. Making its way to India for the very first time, Campari’s bar takeover at Hakkasan Mumbai was a memorable night. Two of Milan’s top mixologists, Tommaso Cecca and Saverio Casella headed the event, serving guests with a special cocktail menu that celebrates the iconic Italian Bitter, Campari.
Tommaso Cecca and Saverio Casella Campari Bar Takeover
Photo Courtesy: Campari
In a candid conversation with LuxeBook, Tommaso Cecca shares his wisdom and love for the art of cocktail making, his favourite cocktails and more!
What has your journey from a young bartender to Head of Camparino Licencing and Mixology been like?
My journey has been a profound evolution, one that is deeply rooted in my unwavering passion for the craft. Consequently, the experiences I gained at Da Michele helped nurture my passion and leave a lasting impact on my trajectory.
Immersing myself behind the bar, creating libations, and connecting with patrons ignited an enduring interest in mixology. These interactions emphasised the importance of seamless customer rapport and harmonious cooperation in a unified team — both key elements in our industry. The curiosity that fuels an exploration of diverse recipes is an essential quality for succeeding in mixology.
Camparino in Galleria
Photo Courtesy: Camparino in Galleria / Instagram
The journey has provided me with profound insights, revealing the essentials of dedication and a sincere fondness for the art of cocktail making. The industry is in a perpetual state of flux. It demands an insatiable appetite for learning and a willingness to embrace innovative impulses. These early encounters have moulded my identity as a mixologist, and I encourage aspiring mixologists to wholeheartedly embrace their passion, embarking on a rewarding and gratifying journey that lies ahead.
How does Camparino in Galleria embrace a mix of tradition and innovation?
Camparino in Galleria seamlessly weaves tradition and innovation into its fabric. We revere our heritage by cherishing timeless cocktail classics while embracing modern techniques that enhance the overall experience. We utilise meticulous experimentation for our cocktails, which includes utilizing a laboratory. Accordingly, we develop pairings that enhance flavours and create a balanced symphony on the palate. This creative process involves collaboration, innovation, and a keen understanding of ingredients to ensure that every cocktail is a unique masterpiece.
Campari Bar Takeover at Hakkasan, Bandra
Photo Courtesy: Campari
Your cocktails are said to be prepared using pairings developed in a laboratory. Can you explain what the laboratory is, and the creation process?
We craft the cocktails through meticulous experimentation, often utilizing a laboratory where we develop pairings that enhance flavours and create a harmonious symphony on the palate. This creative process involves collaboration, innovation, and a keen understanding of ingredients to ensure that every cocktail is a unique masterpiece.
How does it feel to have Camparino in Galleria listed in The World’s 50 Best Bars for the second time this year?
Appearing in the World’s Best 50 Bars is a testament to our company’s core values. Our success stems from a philosophy of teamwork, where collaboration is the driving force behind our approach to innovation in cocktails.
Camparino in Galleria
Photo Courtesy: Camparino in Galleria / Instagram
The challenge lies in maintaining our international presence, which has been a key factor for us. With over 100 years of crafting cocktails for both Italian and international customers, we bear a significant responsibility. Our dedication to spreading our cultural ethos extends beyond just cocktails. It encompasses hospitality, heart, and our company’s heritage.
When it comes to crafting cocktails, we embark on a special project each year in close collaboration with our team. This project sparks a creative journey that involves all 12 team members. The Mumbai cocktail program was a testament to our approach where 12 different perspectives inspired our creativity.
Camparino in Galleria
Photo Courtesy: Camparino in Galleria / Instagram
Our success hinges on presenting a new Campari cocktail program and menu every season. The bar is often fully booked, with reservations stretching two months ahead. We are undeniably proud to serve over a thousand cocktails daily. It is a remarkable achievement that reflects the collective efforts of our dedicated team.
This is Camparino’s first bar takeover in India. How does it feel? What is your opinion on the cocktail culture in India?
Our debut bar takeover by Camparino in India is a thrilling venture, representing a significant milestone as we showcase our craft and distinctive cocktails to the Indian audience.
Campari Bar Takeover at Hakkasan, Bandra
Campari Bar Takeover at Hakkasan, Bandra
The evolution of India’s cocktail culture over the past five years has been remarkable, embracing innovation and creativity to curate extraordinary experiences for patrons. Evidently, there is a heightened fondness for vintage cocktails, exemplified by the global acclaim of the Negroni as the world’s top-selling cocktail.
An intriguing pattern we’ve observed, involves the ageing of cocktails in oak barrels, infusing them with vintage charm and intensified flavours. Our Pintash Negroni is expertly aged to offer distinct characteristics tailored to the discerning preferences of our Indian patrons.
Campari Bar Takeover at Hakkasan, Bandra
Photo Courtesy: Camparino in Galleria / Instagram
Moreover, the infusion of novel flavours and techniques from around the world has enriched India’s cocktail tradition. Our unwavering commitment lies in exploring and delivering a diverse array of experiences, aligned with the ever-evolving desires and palates of modern cocktail enthusiasts.
What are some of your fondest memories as a bartender before Camparino in Galleria?
Some of my fondest memories as a bartender before Camparino in Galleria involve the connections I forged with patrons while crafting cocktails.
Is there such a thing as the perfect cocktail? What is your favourite cocktail recipe?
The concept of a ‘perfect’ cocktail is subjective and can vary based on individual preferences. However, I believe that a well-balanced cocktail is a harmonious blend of flavours, aromas, and textures. It should evoke a sensory experience that resonates with the drinker, leaving a lasting impression. As for my favourite cocktail recipe, I have a deep affinity for the classic Negroni. Its timeless combination of Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth creates a symphony of flavours that I find truly delightful.
Campari Bar Takeover at Hakkasan, Bandra
Photo Courtesy: Campari / Instagram
Any advice for young and aspiring bartenders?
Be relentless in your pursuit of knowledge, and passionate about creating exceptional experiences. Embrace the artistry of mixology; experiment fearlessly, and always prioritize the enjoyment of your patrons. Your journey will be marked by growth, creativity, and the ability to craft memorable moments.
You may also like: 
India’s Love Affair with Malbec
Indian wines have consistently gotten better each year: Nikhil Agarwal of All Things Nice

Schenelle Dsouza

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