The Future of Hospitality with Ago Perrone and Giorgio Bargiani
World-renowned bartending duo Ago Perrone and Giorgio Bargiani of 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.
Suited, booted and dressed to impress, our hosts have connected, virtually, with Carina Soto Velasquez (Quixotic Projects, Paris), Benjamin Padrón Novoa (Licorería Limantour, Mexico City), Vijay Mudaliar (Native, Singapore) and Vasilis Kyritsis (The Clumsies, Athens). For our final instalment, we’re turning the tables on our martini maestros, putting them in the hot seat for an interview with our very own Meimi Sanchez.
Ago and Giorgio are known as the faces of The Connaught Bar, but how did they get their start in the bar industry? For Giorgio, it was fate. “My name is Giorgio ‘Bar’giani; it was destiny; I couldn’t do anything different. I’ve worked at The Connaught Bar for seven years. It’s the place I work at, I love, and where I met Ago Perrone, who is the reason I moved to this city.”
For Ago, bartending began as a way to support his education. “I started to work in hospitality because I wanted to pay for my studies, as my dream was to travel and be a travel photographer - knowing new cultures and meeting new people, seeing new places. My studies still need to happen, but I am travelling the world and meeting amazing people and discovering new places and new cultures through my profession.”
With a collective twenty years spent bartending in London, what do the duo think the capital’s hospitality industry has to look forward to? “What I think is becoming more and more a point of reference, at the core of our job, is the real value of looking after people. We’ve seen how the availability of products expanded very rapidly, which is amazing, but what most people tend to do is too disconnected from who’s in front of you, at the bar, who are the guests? We know how to innovate the technical side; we only now have to innovate the human side.” explains Ago.
In Meimi’s words, Ago and Giorgio are two of her favourite people to be sat at a bar in front of. Do they think their passion for hospitality is intuitive, or can it be taught? For Giorgio, it’s a balancing act. “It’s a little bit of both. You can learn, from a technical point of view, how to tick boxes, but you need to like it. Being a bartender, being a waiter, you will deal with people every day. The aspect of this business that you need to love first is being among people.”
Ago’s motto ‘Straight up with style, don’t forget the smile’ has become something of a mantra, but to him, it’s about more than just making drinks. “It’s not only the way we make the Martini; it’s always straight up - chin up. It doesn’t matter what’s happening; you need to rely on yourself and the people around you. We are part of our own little community in our team, but a bigger community within the hotel and a huge community within the hospitality. And ‘don’t forget the smile’ because, without the smile, you don't open the doors in life, and you don't make new connections with new guests in your bar; these are simple things that we tend to forget.”
When asked what keeps him motivated, Giorgio is keen to cite the importance of a good smile “Other people's smiles make me smile, or the idea that I can be able to make people smile, makes me smile, so I smile. It’s this contagious thing that never stops. I say silly things, or I put myself in embarrassing situations, and people smile. I always find a way to make people smile.”
For more of Ago and Giorgio’s words of wisdom, watch their full video interview, and check out the rest of this series, featuring some of the world’s best-known hospitality professionals, as we look to navigate the future of the bar industry alongside those who know it best - bartenders.