On The World’s 50 Best Bars list 2022, Paradiso is named the No.1—numero uno—out of all entries in 2022. Naturally, we had to ask the owner, Giacomo Giannotti, how he’s doing it all.
Tuscany-born Giacomo Giannotti has extensive experience in the bar industry under his belt. He grew up in a family that owned an ice cream bar, which lit his passion for mixology. He then followed that passion to London where he trained as a bartender and started refining his technique. Hearing his calling, he decided to move to sunny Barcelona with opportunities to study hospitality firsthand in luxury hotel bars.
Then in 2015, Paradiso was born.
Giacomo Giannotti’s speakeasy is located behind a retro-style fridge door inside a pastrami bar. It’s well-known for its tropical-chic interior, intimate vibes, warm hospitality, and drinks that will blow your mind. We can’t imagine a better person to ask how to run the best bar, other than the man who’s running the best bar in the world. Here’s what Giacomo had to say.
[Hero and featured image credit: Giacomo Giannotti/Website]
So we talked about to Giacomo Giannotti of Paradiso about how to run the best bar in the world in 2022
What does it feel like achieving the title of the World’s Best Bar?
“It’s crazy, you know?” Giacomo laughs. “I still don’t believe it. It’s a big pleasure, an honour. It is such a privilege to deserve this recognition—for me, for the team, for the bar, for Barcelona. We’re very happy. But after the celebration, we went to the bar and our main focus was still the guests. Nothing much changed, and we still keep doing what we’re doing.”
The bar owner also notes that he and the team celebrated the massive milestone twice. The night they won, they all went back to Paradiso. “It was an amazing party.” Giacomo says, “I was dancing on the table. There were a lot of people joining us at the bar; dancing, singing. Then we went to a bar called Monk. The place is both a bar and a club. We stayed at the club till morning.”
Tell us more about Paradiso. What would be something we can look forward to when we enter the bar?
We know that the term “speakeasy” is a tad overused when we see some bars themselves itself such. After all, a speakeasy should feel a little discreet, or embodying a certain vibe of secrecy. Paradiso is not one of those. “From the outside, you’ll see a pastrami bar.” Giacomo prefaces, “[It’s a] casual, artisanal little place where we make the food [served at the bar]. You’ll find an old fridge door. Once you go through that, you’ll find Paradiso.”
“One of the first things you’ll notice is how the bar is decorated.” He adds, “The first part is the wooden, wavy roof that spans from one side of the bar to the other. It’s around 10-metres long and it’s beautiful. In that area, the music is louder—there’s lounge-house music played there. Then we have another part [of the bar] with around ten tables spread across the floor where the music is softer, where people can talk better.”
But what many don’t know is that there’s another speakeasy that exists inside Paradiso. “It’s a whisky room and the entrance is a little bit of a secret. You’ll need to come and check it out, I won’t tell you where it is now.” Giacomo laughs, “It’s all covered in copper and can seat around 10-12 people.”
Would you say Barcelona’s drinking culture is different compared to when you’re touring Southeast Asia?
“That’s an interesting question,” says Giacomo, “because I think Paradiso is different from Spanish culture in general. People come in to try our cocktails; our creations. In Spain, you normally see people going out for vermouth, beer, or classic cocktails. When it comes to Asia, I can see a lot of local fruit used [in cocktails]. I see the dragon fruit, the jackfruit being used, as well as exotic flavours such as pandan. You play a lot with flavours, as well as high levels of mixology and experimentation.”
He also notes the trends he has observed in Spain throughout the recent years “The strong agave spirits—tequila, mezcal have been growing in popularity, as well as low ABV cocktails and highballs.”
“I was about to say sustainability,” Giacomo remarks, “but sustainability should not be a trend. It should be something we should do. I can see many bars starting to care about the environment in the process of creating cocktails, but it’s not a trend.”
What makes a good cocktail?
“For me, two of the most important things are the ingredients and the balance.” He explains, “Good, quality ingredients are the key to a good drink, then a balanced recipe is what makes the difference.”
Of course, a lack of balance and low-quality ingredients are the classic recipe to creating bad cocktails. “For example, a margarita is a simple recipe—Cointreau, tequila, lime juice. But if that lime isn’t fresh, or it’s from a few days ago, we can taste the difference. Even in simple, classic recipes, if you don’t have the balance, you’re just making a bad cocktail.”
What do you like to drink?
Giacomo exclaims his appreciation for apéritifs. “Negronis, Americanos, vermouth, Campari—that sort of drink.”
He also expresses his discontent towards “creamy cocktails.” “But it depends,” he elaborates. “An Irish coffee? I love it. But some sweet, creamy cocktail ingredients like whisky cream, I don’t really like it.”
In a bar, what is considered ‘good service’?
“What makes something memorable is the human touch; the personality,” says Giacomo. “Everything can be perfect, but if there’s no personal touch, you won’t remember the experience. In contrast, if you go to a place that isn’t perfect, but there’s the way they take care of you, the way they recommend you a drink on the menu, that’s how you feel special. We want [our guests] to put their trust in us, and that can be done by putting some personality into our service.”
“Behave in a way that is best for the bar,” he adds. “Let’s say, you have customers that are impolite, that don’t give you the respect. We could stand there and argue with the guests—make that situation known all over the bar, or be intelligent. Try to round up the situation, and be calm, because we’re not only making these guests happy, we’re trying to make all 50 people sitting around us happy.”
“If they disrespect other people, it’s alright to say ‘Hey, I think you should leave’. Ask yourself what would be best for the bar.”
Is there a bar you’re looking forward to visit while you’re in Asia?
“I have many friends in Asia,” Giacomo explains. “One of my best friends in the bar industry is VJ from Singapore. I love his style of cocktail and who he is as a person. He has two cocktail bars, one is Native, where he works with local Singaporean ingredients, and Analog, which recently opened. Analog is more vegan, low ABV, very sustainable, and doing something different.”
He adds, “I’m also excited to visit Penicillin (Hong Kong) hopefully sometime soon. Agung is another good friend of mine, and it’s one of the bars that focuses on sustainability. I find his work very interesting.”