Barcelona’s Paradiso co-founders on what makes for world’s best bar
From progressive techniques to unique menu concepts, Paradiso has taken the world by storm. Giacomo Giannotti and Margarita Sader tell YS Life what it felt like to become the world's best and what it takes to achieve greatness in the world of bartending.
For Giacomo Giannotti and Margarita Sader, running Paradiso meant giving every person walking through their doors an experience of a lifetime.
Each year, Paradiso co-founders serve up a series of cocktails that follow a theme. For instance, this year’s theme at Paradiso revolved around evolution—canvassing the history of man and several defining moments in human history.
Since winning the title of the world’s best bar, this is the first time Giannotti and Sader are visiting India. On August 11, they took over the ZLB23, a Kyoto Speakeasy at The Leela Palace Bengaluru, giving patrons a taste of what it offers in its neo-speakeasy set-up back home in Barcelona.
Giannotti wastes no time explaining Paradiso's immersive techniques. He picks up a glass in front of us and begins to explain how it uses fermented glass to create a cocktail recipe inspired by Alexander Fleming’s penicillin.
Tintiltaing all five senses—sight, smell, touch, sound, and taste—they lay the groundwork for when you sip on one of Paradiso's cocktails. However, the element of surprise is very much part of the deal.
It begins even before you enter the bar right at the entrance. One doesn’t expect a bar to be tucked away behind an unseemly deli shop in Barcelona, less alone the world’s best bar. It has been eight years since Giannotti and Sader started Paradiso, and it has finally reaped its benefits.
As the couple waited patiently for the awards, it was nothing but pure emotion Giannotti tells YS Life. “It’s when we saw the numbers go down, we began to realise that we had won,” he adds.
“Last year, we were number three…I remember our hearts beating very fast as soon as it came to the top five, some of the other team members started crying, and when number two was announced, that is when I think I began to cry,” says Sader.
“It really is one of the best awards you can get since it’s given out by people in hospitality, so it was always a big goal for us,” she adds.
What it takes to be the best
To Giannotti and Sader, besides a great concept, service, and drinks, it is passion and patience that makes a good bar—the best bar in the world. “You also need to have a great team…that is fundamental. It is also important to have a good team and partners you can trust in the process,” says Giannotti.
“You also need to be a continuous learner…for us, it’s a great motivation to find new ideas and techniques every year, yet at the same time knowing really well the classics,” adds Sader.
“Over the years, we have learned a lot from our travels or even guests that walk through our doors…so, we always learn something every year like ingredients, techniques, decoration…and we look to make it better.”
Still, some things never change in Paradiso’s menu.
Every year, it serves up a different version of the Negroni—a traditional Italian aperitif cocktail usually comprising one part gin, one part vermouth, and Campari—an ode to Giannotti’s Italian roots.
That decision-making process, of course, isn’t always solitary. “Between us, we decide on the concept. We almost spend one or two months in that process, after which we go through a brainstorming process. This initially used to be a three-person process, but now we have a team of nearly 45 members,” says Sader.
“So, if you share this process with your team and let them participate in the process…it helps a lot with creativity, helps them feel like they’re part of a family and ultimately sell better cocktails.”
Perfecting the right menu
Part of Paradiso’s offering is the essence of spectacle, which usually means using several types of gastronomy in its drinks. For instance, in its penicillin-inspired cocktail, the technique of using fermented glass along with fermented spirits. While it doesn’t have any theatrical concepts, it still packs a punch.
“It doesn’t always need to be theatrical…it [the ingredients] need to be balanced and need to match. It’s also important to have a big selection that caters to the palettes of all the clients,” says Sader.
The Leela Place in Bengaluru and ZLB23 are curating a series of bar takeovers featuring some of the bars from the World’s Best 50 Bars list.
Edited by Suman Singh