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Apr 13th 2020
The Blend
Australia

Maybe Sammy × The Connaught

THE TEAM AT MAYBE SAMMY STARTED THE YEAR STRONG BY HOSTING ONE OF THE MOST EXCITING COLLABORATIONS WITH AGO PERRONE AND GIORGIO BARGIANI FROM THE CONNAUGHT, LONDON. THANKS TO SIPSMITH LONDON DRY GIN WHO HELPED THIS COLLABORATION COME TO LIFE. WE HEAR FROM STEFANO CATINO, AGO PERRONE AND GIORGIO BARGIANI, SHARING THE HIGHLIGHTS, THE PARTNERSHIP AND HOW THEY ACHIEVED PURE HARMONY.

“We discovered the identity of a close-knit Italian bartending community on the other side of the world, and that was absolutely beautiful” 
- Ago Perrone and Giorgio Bargiani
 

BRINGING THE CONNAUGHT TO AUSTRALIA, AND HOSTING THE EVENT AT MAYBE SAMMY – WHAT DID THIS OPPORTUNITY MEAN TO YOU? 

Ago Perrone and Giorgio Bargiani: It was an incredible opportunity to merge two styles of hospitality and cocktail bars which, despite the differences, have one common denominator: the Italian spirit. The Connaught represents classicism and elegance infused with creativity, whilst Maybe Sammy represents creativity infused with elegance. Both us and Maybe Sammy brought something new to an established type of venue, the hotel bar from our end and the independent bar from their end. What marked our memories of Sydney and teaming up with Maybe Sammy was seeing how harmoniously and flawlessly our two identities came together in the name of offering guests the best moment ever. We discovered the identity of a close-knit Italian bartending community on the other side of the world, and that was absolutely beautiful. To wrap it up, viva l’Italia. 

HOW DID THIS COLLABORATION COME ABOUT BETWEEN MAYBE SAMMY AND THE CONNAUGHT PRESENTED BY SIPSMITH LONDON DRY GIN? 

Stefano Catino: It came about when Ago and I met last year at Tales of the Cocktail, at one of our Italian reunion events. With most of the bartending community present, we had a chat about an opportunity to come down to Australia and share our knowledge and experience. 

After coming back to Sydney, Hayley, from The Blend by Beam Suntory, and I had an exciting discussion, and she was, as always, the person to make this happen! 

HOW DID THE GUESTS EXPERIENCE THE CONNAUGHT WHILE AT MAYBE SAMMY? 

AG & GB: Many of the guests had never been to our bar before, so they were looking forward to having a taste of The Connaught in their city, Sydney. We could see that they were fascinated by the experience. We also found many of The Connaught Bar guests who are based in Sydney and came specially to see us and enjoy the experience in their city for one night. The collaboration event with Stefano and the Maybe Sammy team was so smooth that it allowed us to recreate the vibe and essence of The Connaught Bar, delivering our distinctive guest-centric service. The team members come from a hotel bar background, and this undoubtedly helped us deliver a seamless service, whilst expressing our identity and telling our story. It was truly a unique night. 

WHAT WAS THE OBJECTIVE/ PURPOSE OF THE COLLABORATION? 

SC: It was mainly to share our ideas and the Italian style of bartending and hospitality. It’s something that we want the world to see, a collaboration like a summit from the Rat Pack back in Vegas in the 1960s. We wanted to showcase what is true 5-star hospitality and the focus that we both, no matter what side of the world, have for our guests. 

WHY THE CONNAUGHT BAR IN MAYBE SAMMY? 

SC: Why not and where else? Our friendship story, and ideas of hospitality are incredibly similar, and Agostino for the Italian bartender community has always been an inspiration. 

DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF THE SIPSMITH MARTINI YOU SERVED AS THE ‘ULTIMATE MARTINI EXPERIENCE’? 

AG & GB: We delivered the entire service by bringing the Martini trolley to Maybe Sammy. This created an even more immersive and dynamic drinking experience which was well received. At The Connaught Bar, we use the Martini trolley to establish a direct contact and conversation with the guests, so we can understand their mood, feelings and taste, and create a bespoke drinking experience. While approaching and presenting them with the ingredients they can choose to create a bespoke cocktail, we also have the opportunity to explain the essence of our bar, which is what makes the entire journey unique. By personalising the Martini together, we also personalise the moment. At Maybe Sammy, we created a Martini mirroring our signature in-house serve at The Connaught. We had a bespoke Martini trolley created for the event and used Sipsmith London Dry Gin as the base spirit. We added our house blend of three vermouths and offered the choice between two of our aromatic bitters to personalise the drink: the bergamot and ginseng bitter, also called Dr. Ago bitter. This bitter offers a herbal and citrus note on the palate with the bergamot staying on the finish together with the warm fragrance of ginseng. The second bitter, tonka bean, offers a different flavour profile to the Martini with notes of vanilla, almond and marzipan. Finally, the guests could opt for lemon or olive as a garnish. The whole cocktail making process ended with the usual high Martini pour, which allows us to aerate the mixture and also add a theatrical element. The Martini making process for us is a real moment of engagement and interaction with the guests and delivering this as a duo at Maybe Sammy enabled us to tell a story that we hope stays with them. 

WHAT INSPIRED THE COLLABORATION DRINK? 

AG & GB: It’s a layered drink that encapsulates the essence of the UK, Australia and, of course, Italy, our common denominator. We thought we would start from our roots, so we drew from a Negroni with a nod to The Connaught and Maybe Sammy: Sipsmith London Dry Gin, a tribute to London, mixed with Lemon Myrtle oil, Martini Ambrato and Galliano L’Autentico to express a strong aromatic Italian essence, finished with Galliano L’Aperitivo infused with Wattleseed, a quintessential Australian ingredient. This was our Maybe Connaught Negroni. 

WHAT WAS THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE EVENING?

AG & GB: There was certainly more than one. The warm reception of all the guests and the amazing support we received from the Maybe Sammy team, topped off by coming all together to sing New York, New York. 

SC: We worked together as if we had worked together for the past five years. No mistakes, smooth service, and the incredible preparation on the day delivered a spectacular evening. 

NEVER HAVING WORKED TOGETHER BEFORE AND BRINGING THE BARS TOGETHER FOR ONE NIGHT, HOW DID YOU ACHIEVE HARMONY, AND TEAM COLLABORATION?

AG & GB: The Maybe Sammy team has been incredibly collaborative and supportive, showing a great understanding and intuition for our work as well as outstanding hosting and bartending skills. They opened their doors to us and made us feel home, allowing The Connaught Bar experience to be fully delivered. Both teams enjoyed joining forces to create an extraordinary night for the guests, but also for us. 

SC: There was no language barrier; we knew what we wanted for the night! What our overall goal was and what we wanted to achieve. We prepared well in the day and organised the service; the rest was chemistry, pure attention to detail and on top of that, the same vision for the job: our guests are the number one priority!

A Collaborative Approach 

IF YOU MISSED THE MAYBE SAMMY AND THE CONNAUGHT COLLABORATION, HERE IS A TASTE OF THE FOUR COCKTAILS CREATED BY AGO PERONNE, GIORGIO BARGIANI AND THE MAYBE SAMMY TEAM.