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Interviews

Paolo Perrini Creating a Happy Place at the Painter’s Room

29/11/2021

Paolo Perrini believes that bars are happy places and that’s exactly what he creates at the Painter’s Room, the only new bar addition to Claridge’s in over 25 years.

Where do you work?

At the newly opened Painter’s Room in Claridge’s, Mayfair, London. A new bar on the ground floor of the hotel by interior designer Bryan O’Sullivan, with a creative installation by artist Annie Morris. This is the latest bar addition in over 25 years by Claridge’s, a place where the hotel’s heritage meets a more modern era.

Tell us something about yourself.

I believe myself to be a very charismatic, energetic and curious person, characteristics that have been key and have led my entire career in the industry. I’ve always been very determined in wanting to make my dreams come true. Originally from a nice little town in southern Italy, I moved to London about 9 years ago with the goal to make myself a better bartender and to be among London’s bar industry. (the best in the world in my opinion).

What inspired you to get into bartending?

Like most Italians, I carry a true love of the hospitality industry.
At the age of 15 I started working for a small hotel bar, cafeteria style, where I met my real mentor and the person who has conveyed in me a true love for this profession. Since then I’ve loved mixing cocktails behind a bar and being with guests.

Paolo Perrini, Bartender at Claridge’s

How according to you has the role of the Bartender evolved, especially now during Covid times?

Honestly I don’t believe our role has changed much but what our guests want has definitely changed. It feels like people have finally slowed down from the frenetic life and now are more relaxed and open to talks. This allows us bartenders to be at the centre of their experience engaging with them in order to suggest, share the knowledge and really make them understand what’s poured in their glass.

What are some of the most important skills for a bartender to have?

Mental organisation, body language, commitment and powerful knowledge.

What do you look for when you plan to buy spirits for your bar?

This is one of the aspects I leave to my strong management team but always exceptional quality and craftsmanship.

What support programs work best for you from suppliers?

When I create cocktails or menus…I’d always start from a concept, so I tend to put together all that is needed to recreate that idea into a glass in order to make it exceptional and fully understood.
Once finalised, I have a look at some of the supports from our suppliers that can actually be functional and fit in.

Painter’s Room

What cocktails and drinks trends do you see in 2022?

I personally don’t believe in trends as I find them a limit for an industry like ours.
I’d rather focus on new techniques, new flavour combinations and new ways of serving drinks.

What's the best part of your job?

Bars are always happy places!
Transmitting that vibe to my guests and making their experience remarkable is what makes me feel happy.

What are your favorite TV shows right now? Or your favorite movie?

Nowadays television is quite boring! I’d rather throw myself into a nice movie…

If you had to pick one spirit as your personal best, which would it be and why?

Whisky! With only one sip this spirit is able to prove its origin and tell its story. I am amazed by this world! 

How are you marketing your bar to drive some foot traffic during covid-19?

As a bartender my duty is to ensure the bar is as safe and as clean as possible in order to make our guests feel comfortable…especially post Covid19.  Our amazing PR and Marketing team at Claridge’s will look after all the other aspects related to social media and communication.

Any tips for new bartenders?

They should be ready to adapt into different roles. A bartender is the host, server and glass polisher. It goes way beyond making a good cocktail!
My suggestion is to fully commit your life into bartending with passion and good attitude, knowledge and expertise will follow along with time.

What’s the most underrated cocktail ingredient or spirit?

Eau de vie! People in general look at this distillate as digestive only. I personally consider it a stunning mixing element.

What is an experience or a customer story you thought was funny and that you remember?

After serving to a guest an old fashioned cocktail over one single ice block, I was asked if the beautiful piece of ice was edible! 

What are the 4-5 challenges you face in your business and how do you overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges bars are facing at the moment is the shortage of qualified staff. I think this is a great opportunity to value the actual employees and lead them into a path of growth.  Another big challenge is to maintain the bar’s reputation, in my opinion it is important to understand when change is needed.  Last but not least the challenge to maintain quality in a consistent way and ensure that service always lives up to standards.

What's your career goal? Where do you want to be and how are you working towards it?

My dream is to run a bar of my own in my hometown. I’d love to recreate the same cocktail philosophy we have here in the UK. Thankfully, working every day alongside great professionals in this sector allows me to collect the best knowledge and ideas to make it happen one day! Fingers crossed! 

Tips for brands looking to pitch to bars? What should they cover in their pitch? What you do not need to know? Give us the best elevator pitch brands can do to you.

I believe brands should always support bars in any way possible and with great effort.
Brands should make sure each individual dealing with their products has a full understanding of what are the characteristics and what’s the best serve!
Definitely training sessions and educational programs are key points.

Define a good Bartender according to you.

As previously said a good  bartender should always be ready to adapt to different roles and feel confident in his workplace. This can only be achieved through building good knowledge and great communication skills.

What's an ideal bar drinks menu? What should it include, what profit metric should it try and achieve?

In my opinion creating a bar menu is never an easy task. You really should embrace the challenge and build the right balance to satisfy any palate and desire, taking into consideration the efforts and investments it requires in terms of labour, products and time. You really have to be attentive on anything that could increase your costs and at the same time not ensure the best quality result.