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“Mixology is Correlated with Fantasy”- Says Federico Pavan

Federico Pavan, the Director of Mixology at the Donovan Bar at Brown’s Hotel, the oldest hotel in London which was established in 1837, shares his knowledge as a mixologist with Sid Patel

Mixology is correlated with fantasy. According to Federico, a good mixologist must be creative in his work and not copy others. You are born with the ability to be creative. Knowledge plays an important role too. A mixologist needs to be creative as well as knowledgeable about the ingredients he is using, the best ways to use them, and how to blend things together. The bartenders at Donovan Bar enjoy experimenting with ingredients that don't often work well together, but with the correct skills and experience, they can create unique cocktails.

Federico says that being a part of the team is one of the most crucial things because every employee is different. He goes on to discuss the traits of a great mixologist, what they are aiming for, and how they raise the standard internally. One focuses more on the shaking technique, while the other would be more flavour-focused, and it's fantastic to combine the two.


The Bartending world and the culinary world, both are very close, they use a lot of similar techniques while cooking and making cocktails. Donovan Bar uses fat-washing (Fat washing is an old perfumer's technique of infusing something oily (such as bacon grease or bacon) into alcohol, then freezing the liquid so that the fat separates and rises to the surface so it can be scraped off. The flavour of the fatty substance remains in the liquid), rotavapor to distil or extract flavours and a special machine that helps squeeze the juice, keeping the consistency of the juice without losing the flavour and many other things.

Federico Pavan

Image: Federico Pavan; Source: Facebook

For every cocktail that is shaken or stirred in Donovan Bar, they use different techniques. It’s different for a white spirit as well as for a black spirit. The small elements are the details that in the end, make the difference. 

By adhering to the guidelines and picking up new skills along the way, the bartenders improve the procedure. It is a mixture of both. One can study what bartending is, from a chef too, or somebody who inspires them but one shouldn’t copy anybody’s methods and develop their own skills. Talking about himself, he considers Salvatore Calabrese as his mentor. 

In Federico’s opinion, a mixologist and a bartender are more or less the same. He says, “Mixology is something that is a new word, but in the end, a bartender and a mixologist are the same. Mixology is more focused on cocktail creation, combining flavours which were not discovered earlier.” Building a strong staff for the bar requires many steps, including hiring mixologists. They start by looking at the candidate's level of expertise before trying to determine where the bartender is from. They next look at the candidate's previous work record and how much he/she knows about spirits and cocktails. In the end, attitude toward the job is what really matters to Federico. Knowledge is something you can learn, but attitude, you have it or you don’t. 

Federico Pavan

Image: Federico Pavan; Source: Facebook

Additionally, bartenders spend a lot of time working, so they seek out candidates who are flexible and willing to go above and beyond—not only to put in more hours but also to enjoy their jobs. The bar is the primary focus when you first begin working as a bartender, but you should also be skilled behind the bar and at the bar counter.

Federico gives further details about the training program they provide for newcomers. They give the new employee a chance to work alongside an experienced employee so that he or she may learn the workings of the bar, such as where the ice is stored, where the tools are kept, where the juices and spirits are, etc. Once they know everything about the bar,  the bartender is given proper training in spirits and cocktails. They also have a bible in which they record all the ingredients, homemade recipes, and former menus in case any returning clients inquire about a certain drink that they used to serve. If the bartender can't make it exactly like it was, the guests are recommended to get another cocktail.

Federico Pavan, the Director of Mixology at the Donovan Bar with Sid Patel, CEO of Beverage Trade Network

Image: Federico Pavan, the Director of Mixology at the Donovan Bar with Sid Patel, CEO of  Beverage Trade Network; Source: Linkedin

Giving advice to the bartenders who are trying to navigate into the mixology industry, he says, “You need to be humble, and never stop seeking knowledge because it’s a never-ending job. There are new products launched every day.”

He also recommends reading the book “The Classic Cocktail of Salvatore Calabrese”, which covers all the classic cocktails around the world. Travelling is essential too because you discover new flavours and new lifestyles and you can experiment with something new and it becomes a part of your background.

Article by Puja Behera, Beverage Trade Network

Header Image: Federico Pavan; Source: Facebook

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