Behind the Bar: Simone Caporale

Hailing from Como, Italy, Simone Caporale, winner of International Bartender of the Year 2014, was in Hong Kong last week to guest bartend at Mandarin Oriental’s M Bar, where the cocktail mastreo created five special drinks for the hotel. Having previously worked for London’s Artesian, which won World’s Best Bar for four consecutive years, Caporale now leads British celebrity chef Jaime Oliver’s DrinksTube and consults for various projects. In an interview with dbHK, Caporale reveals why water has a special place for him in cocktails and the importance of seasonal ingredients.

M-Bar-Guest-Mixologist-Simone-Caporale

What led you to be behind the bar? 

It started as a summer job during my school break. I soon realised that this was more than just something temporary, and I decided to treat it as a profession when I turned 18 years old.

Which spirit ignited your passion?

I actually became passionate for this industry because of the overall atmosphere and energy of the people at the bar.

What are the best and worst things about the industry?

Worst thing: People can get quite aggressive when they drink too much, and it’s my job to manage their limits. Also within this industry, it’s hard to have a proper meal and find balance within your diet.

Good thing: This industry has allowed me to explore different cultures and gain experience by travelling the world, building better people skills, developing my creativity, and of course paying the bills for my family.

If you had to be a particular cocktail or spirit, which one would you be?

Water… there is a high percentage of water in every cocktail or spirit.

Lime or lemon?

Lime, lemon and pomelo!

Complete this sentence: the last time I drank, I….

paid the bill and gave my change to a homeless person on the street in Hong Kong.

What are your favourite seasonal cocktails?

It depends on the season and which part of the world I’m in. I typically like fresh produce from local markets to use as my ingredients in cocktails.

Where is your favourite place in Asia for cocktails?

Seoul and Taipei.

Name one cocktail trend which is hot in Asia right now?

Fermented fruit wines.

What’s one cocktail trend that you wish the industry can get rid of at the moment?

Each cocktail trend can end in two ways, having a tasty drink or not. To be a trendsetter, it’s best to do things that make sense and always ask yourself why you’re doing it.

Please share one of your favourite recipes? 

Minimalist – Build in a tall glass over ice cubes and garnish with a mandarin zest 

30 ml Italicus Rosolio Bergamotto 

15 ml Martini Bitter

10 ml Lemon Juice

60 ml tonic water 

30 ml Nastro Azzurro

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