TIBS2013 Bartender Interview / Mr. Peter Dorelli

March 6, 2013

――Peter, we’re really looking forward to welcoming you to TIBS this April. What are your thoughts- is this your first time to Japan, what are you expecting?

Peter   I am looking forward to coming. It’s my second visit and I am expecting an amazing experience similar to the first time I visited Tokyo.

――You spent almost all of your illustrious career with the Savoy Group, including nearly 20 years as Bar Manager of the American Bar. Could you tell us a little about that- what it’s like to have such a high profile job at one of the world’s top hotels.

Peter   It’s a very rewarding experience working in such a high profile job but its also very tough because customers expectations are so very high. It is not good enough to just meet their expectations but you have to surpass them… and that can be a real challenge.

――When did you first become aware of Japanese bartending and how have your impressions changed since that first encounter?

Peter   The first time I visited Japan was to attend the IBA World Cocktail Competition which was held in Tokyo in 1996 and it was a very enlightening experience, the energy and keenness of the Japanese Bartenders was brilliant and over the years they have kept up their high standards, so much so that a lot of the young bartenders in Europe are imitating their skills – for example their style of shaking.

―― How did you first get into the bartending business and how do you think your style and approach developed as you got older?

Peter   I arrived in the UK at 18 years old and, with the help of my uncle who lived in London, I began to work in hotels all over the UK. However my first step towards the bar was in 1961 in Scotland. I eventually began to work for the Savoy Group in 1983 as Head Barman of the Pebble Bar at Stones Chop House in London.
Over the years I have improved my own skills and knowledge and become more polished. I enjoy passing on these skills and knowledge to young bartenders to help ensure they have every opportunity to succeed. I also now possess a greater awareness of customers needs and expectations and my years of experience as a bartender are invaluable in helping me to meet (and surpass) these.

――You do a lot of work with the UK Bartenders Guild; how is bartending seen as a career in the UK at the moment and how do you think that differs from when you started out?

Peter   The bartenders are much more vibrant and much more up to date, helped by media, internet, Facebook etc. Information is readily available and communication easy. All this has helped to build a sense of community and family where skills are recognized and opportunities for an exciting career are available. Bartending as a career is more popular and is beginning to be recognized as a genuine profession.

―― In what ways do you think your Italian roots influenced your bartending style?

Peter   By nature I am an extrovert and in common with most of my compatriots we are comfortable with people and find it easy to communicate – all of which are a great help when bartending.

――If you could have your career again, is there a particular bar or hotel at which you’d really like to work?

Peter   The Artesian Bar at the Langham Hotel or the Connaught Hotel, both in London. They have a wonderful ambiance  great style and are very progressive. (I would also choose the Savoy again having really appreciated and enjoyed my time there).

―― You’ve described the Negroni as one of your favourite cocktails; what would be your “Perfect Negroni”?

Peter   I am a true classic cocktail person and my palate is equally educated. So, to me, one third sweet martini; one third Campari; one third London gin, and nothing else.

――If you had one piece of advice for a young bartender at the beginning of his career, what would it be?

Peter   Enjoy yourself as a bartender, be creative and be true to yourself!

――Aside from the UK and Japan, which other countries do you see as being as the forefront of the cocktail world at the moment and why?

Peter   Australia, Germany, Russia. They have a tremendous creative energy and passion. Of course I am not excluding the UK.

―― Peter, many thanks for your time. See you at TIBS!


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