Massimiliano Matté, Chief Mixologist at American Juice Company | Founder & CEO at UMAMI.bar.CONSULTING
Tell us a little about yourself:
I have been in the bar business for almost two decades now and I'm still in love with what I'm doing. Over the past years I had the chance to collaborate with some of the big names in the hospitality industry, like Alain Ducasse, Heinz Beck or Daniel Boulud, and working in some of the most prestigious hotels and bars in the world allowed me to gather very important experience. Driven by an eagerness to continuously learn I've started an F&B consulting company - UMAMI, developing hotel & bar projects in 22 countries for more than 8 years. All of the challenges happening during a consulting project is lot's of fun but my biggest passion still lies in mixology and creating unique flavor combinations.
Can you tell us about your most recent projects?
Beside some longterm projects in Mauritius, France, Switzerland, Seychelles and Barbados there are some very interesting projects taking off in the first quarter of 2017 - like 3 new deluxe properties in Denmark, a fine dining restaurant in London and a Wellness Hotel in Italy. Approximately 7 months ago we launched a new cocktail club called "CAPUZINA aperitivo & nachtbar" where I'm involved in the daily operations.
What is your favorite recipe you have come up with using an AJC product? What was the inspiration behind it?
There are a so many different recipes I really like a lot but sharing all of them in this blog would end up in a never ending bar menu (hahaha).
I actually would love to share two of them and their story behind...
4 wedges of Lime
1 wedge of Orange
0.5 oz AJC Cornelius Vanillabilt (coming soon)
3 branches of fresh Thyme
3 leaves of fresh Lemon Verbena
1oz Angostura Rum
1 oz AJC Blueberry Finn
1.5 oz Ginger Ale
Garnish: a bouquet of fresh thyme, freshly picked lemon verbena leaves and a lime twist.
It all began during a walk through the forests of North Italy with my dog Maya. We ended up in a little forest glade where wild herbs and blueberry plants where spending their existence. So we sat down and started enjoying freshly picked blueberries when I noticed a intriguing breeze of wild thyme and lemon verbena. When I got back to bar the very next day, I wanted to re-create these aromas and fragrances in a drink to share it with my guests. Well, the result is this recipe.
"PUMPKIN-PASSIONFRUIT & BLACK PEPPER, MEETS TURMERIC & SMOKEY NOTES OF SCOTCH WHISKEY"
2 wedges of Pink Grapefruit
0.5 oz AJC Blood of Tyrants (Turmeric & Blood Orange Syrup coming soon)
1 oz Laphroaig Whiskey
1 oz Johnny Pumpkinseed
Garnish: a slice of crispy hickory wood smoked bacon, caramelized with maple syrup and sprinkled with black pepper.
The story above was already too long...so just enjoy this recipe "neat" :).
When you are coming up with new drinks, do you have a source(s) for inspiration?
Of course. It's all around - it's life itself that inspires me. But obviously not only :)....it's also the great work of talented mixologists, bloggers and other professionals around the world that gives me inspiration. The most important for me is to avoid copying 1 to 1 as it doesn't allow you to develop your own style. Whenever I read a cocktail book or recipe it's very rare that I look at the quantities but more important to me is to understand the reason of the combination of ingredients itself.
What is your favorite bar, what day of the week do you recommend it, and what kind of experience can a visitor expect?
Amongst some of my favorite bars there is the "DANDELYAN" at the Mondrian Hotel in London. These guys are amazing and going there means discovering a whole range of exciting taste combinations. There is also a very beautiful cocktail bar where I love to sit and sip some truly amazing drinks. It´s called the "Wallflower" in NYC.
What info about cocktails do most people making drinks at home not know that would be helpful to them?
Having fun while combining ingredients and mixing drinks is the best advice I can give.
Favorite AJC flavor?