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Photo for: “The Magician of Mixology”, Michele Lombardi describes the management of The Ritz, London

Interviews

“The Magician of Mixology”, Michele Lombardi describes the management of The Ritz, London

Michele Lombardi, The Head Mixologist at The Ritz, talks about excellence in the bar industry with Sid Patel, CEO of Beverage Trade Network.

The Ritz, one of the most iconic hotels in London, located in Piccadily is popular all over the world for its impeccable service. The bartenders raise the standard of the bar with their magnificent skills of creating cocktails almost in a magical way.

According to Michele, a good mixologist is a bartender first. A bartender has to have all these below-mentioned skills:

- Basic knowledge about the classic cocktails, 

- Must stay updated about the drinks industry, 

- Should know about all the trends going on in the market,

- Should have good communication skills,

- Must be great with the customers because the first person a bartender serves and greets is the customer.

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The standards which every bartender working in The Ritz has to abide by are the LQA standards (LQA is the global market leader in quality assurance assessments and benchmarking analysis for the luxury hospitality industry.) They include things like, reading the customers once they enter the bar, asking certain questions to the customers and explaining the menu. There are different time intervals during the service. Since there is a lot of food served, the bartender should be familiar with the menu. In addition to the standards, they also conduct a training programme for one week. He has to spend the first week working around the bartenders' department and learning everything there is to know about The Ritz. He then has to work a shadow shift alongside the manager. The manager instructs the bartender on how to welcome customers, bring another table if necessary, pull a chair, learn more about their needs, and create a comfortable environment.

Michele talks more about the steps of service that are required in the hospitality industry. The bartender should present the menu to the customers in 30 to 60 seconds. Along with providing little napkins that are helpful to the consumers, they have a priority to serve the ladies first. After that, they take the customer's order for food and drinks while inquiring about any allergies or special requests they may have. The most important thing is to know the menu. They have everything, ranging from the essential cocktail list to the classic cocktails.

Michele Lombardi

Image Source: Michele Lombardi

Following the serving of the drinks, the bartender returns after two minutes to check on the quality and see if the client wishes to make any changes, such as the spirit or flavour. 

Michele says, “It’s not a normal service, it’s an experience.” According to him, the reason the customers don’t order the second glass is that they are rushing for their reservation someplace else or at The Ritz restaurant itself. So the customers come back the other day for the drinks.

On asking how he became the magician of mixology, Michele says, “I get most of my talent from my father because he is a pastry chef. I spent all my time with him when I was young, and he was very inventive about pastries and cakes. He was also very precise because making pastry, as we know, is very difficult. If you make a mistake, you need to throw out everything and then start again.” His father taught him the art of creation. His understanding of the beverage industry is the source of everything else. In Michele's opinion, a bartender ought to be both creative and knowledgeable. Michele advises reading books, not just books about bartending but other books as well, to develop creativity.

He was taught by his masters and it was a pleasant sight for Michele to watch them play with the drinks. He did exactly as his father said, “One needs to steal the job with one’s eyes.” Michele watched whatever was better than him, things like how to serve drinks, present cocktails, and add colours to the drinks and he personalised his way of service accordingly.

Knowledge is power in the hospitality and drinks industry. Having the basics is very important. If you want to develop your skills, you should start by participating in competitions. It has many benefits:

Creating connections

Trying new flavours

Developing your own cocktail

Tasting, in the end, is an important aspect.

To watch the full interview, Managing The Bar At The Iconic Ritz Hotel 

Header Image Source: Michele Lombardi

Article by Puja Behera, Beverage Trade Network

International and Domestic Submission deadline is February 22. If you are looking to grow your brand in 2024, looking for product feedback, or looking to get in front of real trade buyers. It's time to enter your brands in the London Competitions. Here's how to enter, costs and benefits.

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