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Sep 9th 2021
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The Future of Hospitality with Ago Perrone and Giorgio Bargiani

World-renowned bartending duo Ago Perrone and Giorgio Bargiani of the The Connaught have assembled a team of some of the biggest names in bartending today for our newest series, exploring the future of hospitality with the people who know it best – bartenders.

Listed in the World’s 50 Best Bars for the past ten years running and named as World’s Best Bar 2020, The Connaught is known for its impeccable service, charming bartenders, and free-flowing Martinis. At the helm, Ago and Giorgio have led their team to stratospheric success, cementing themselves as two of the most influential bartenders in the world.

Characteristically suited and booted, over the coming weeks Ago and Giorgio will be joined by the likes of Carina Soto Velasquez (Quixotic Projects), Vijay Mudaliar (Native, Singapore), Benjamin Padrón Novoa (Licorería Limantour, Mexico City) and Vasilis Kyritsis (The Clumsies, Athens). Finally, our very own Meimi Sanchez will be turning the tables on Ago and Giorgio, putting Italian bartending duo in the hot seat for our final episode.

Launching the series is Carina Soto Velasquez, the co-founder of hospitality consultancy group Quixotic Projects and the co-owner of world-renowned Paris bars Candelaria, Le Mary Celeste and Hero. Originally from Colombia, multi-lingual Carina has lived in Paris for seventeen years, from where she oversees consultancy projects around the world, including for the Ace Hotel and Bar Marilou in New Orleans. Carina is a proud feminist, new mother, and multi award-winning bartender with a wealth of experience and a love of Mezcal. Here, she tells us what needs to change for hospitality to thrive.

Asked for her thoughts on the future of the bar industry, Carina is keen to stress the importance of a happy team “ When we talk about sustainability, we talk about our ingredients, about the products we pour, about the way we recycle our trash, and as business owners we have all these concerns of course, but also we talk about human sustainability, and that's really important to us in our group. The way our staff can take time off or disconnect and reconnect to their jobs and to their passions as well, that is definitely our focus and how we see our future getting better.”

For Carina, a keen dancer and music lover, that also means taking care of herself both physically and mentally “I think a piece of advice I had from a very young age and rarely did, and actually even struggle achieving now, is taking care of my body and taking care of myself. I think exercising is something that in my family wasn't really a priority. When I started working in bartending, standing long hours in this industry that is very physical, I started suffering back, knee and joint pain and I realised that I’m super young and I'm having all these issues and it’s because my body wasn't really ready for all this, I mean I'm 36 years old, but I think it is something I wish I did earlier and better. Exercise is so important.”

As Carina looks to rebuild and reinstate her workforces, she does so with diversity in mind “Having diversity in our teams is very important and not only gender but also nationality, languages, skills, religion. I think all of that is important to think about.”

As bars and restaurants continue to open up around the world, Carina is looking forward to ordering a Champs Elyss at The Connaught, enjoying a Martini and a Bees Knees, dining at Sichuan restaurants with her business partner Josh and visiting her favourite country, Mexico. On days where she might have over indulged, she’ll be reaching for a Michelada - an idea we can all get on board with.

For more of Carina’s words of wisdom, check out her full video interview below and stay tuned for more in this series, created by hospitality for hospitality exclusively for The Blend. Straight up with style, don’t forget the smile.