Drinks World catches up with Laura Marnich to find out how she became a bartender and the inspiration behind her award winning cocktail. As winner of the Dubai Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition she will now move on to compete in the Global Final in San Francisco.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I am Italian; I come from a small village in North East Italy in the region Friuli Venezia-Giulia. I have always been close to nature, traditions, homemade products, organic ingredients and simplicity. Alcoholic beverages alongside food have always been part of my culture and I wanted to take it a step further by combining the two elements to create a new experience; this motivates me. I left Italy 11 years ago to live in London and I now live in Dubai.
How did you get started in the industry?
I attended a carting school in my teens and I worked in local Italian businesses after that. In 2005, I made my move to London without knowing a word of English and with the aim to learn and work in professional cocktail bars. I trained and shaped my skills and knowledge by working in a few bars in central London and, in 2012, I moved to Dubai.
Did you always know you wanted to work in the industry?
Not always but from very early on, since I first stepped behind a bar and had a shaker in my hands, I knew this was the industry for me.
Who has been your biggest influence in the industry?
No one and everyone! We know that this is an environment, which requires commitment and takes a lot from your private and family life. The strength and inspiration to keep going comes from many different experiences and from meeting people on this journey.
You’re going to be representing the UAE in the Bacardi Legacy Global final. How are you preparing for the competition?
I welcome all advice and suggestions from friends and colleagues. The opportunity to be in San Francisco and be part of such an important event is exciting, but it is also important to keep focus and not lose sight of the right path. On the global scale, you don’t just create and present your cocktail, but rather there is a full package that will indirectly make a difference. It is important to always be organised, presentable, creative, interactive and cheerful. I get as much information as possible and I practice each word to say, how to say it, how to move on and so forth.
What was the inspiration behind your winning cocktail?
From the very beginning I wanted to create a drink that tells a story, the Bacardi family story. I wanted to talk about the people, the Cuban people and highlight their culture and their environment through the main flavours of their land. I also wanted this to be connected to my Italian background and myself. I am a coffee-lover, as most Italians are, and, after some research, I found out that Cubans make coffee for themselves using the Italian MOKA pot machine that was introduced by Italian immigrants during the 1950’s. Cubans had traditionally been mixing rum and coffee, as coffee is part of their lifestyle as much as it is for Italians. They like it very sweet, so they mix the first few drops of coffee with caster sugar, proudly creating a very sweet style that they call “café cubano,’ which they make in large jars and share with family and friends.
So I wanted this original product to be the heart of my drink and the Bacardi Carta Blanca to be the soul. Than, carrying on to complete my cocktail, I imagined myself in Cuba having to pick up feelings and surroundings. So I added a dash of chocolate cream liqueur that pays homage to the production of cacao.
As a last and revolutionary thought, I wanted the flavour of mint to be present in the drink as a tribute to the Mojito, which alongside the Daiquiri helped Bacardi as a brand succeed in cocktail bars.
I also get this very special finish from an Italian amaro-liqueur called Branca Menta, which we often use in caffe coretto (coffee or espresso with a drop of alcohol of choice). The match of the two is quite unique and will be experienced in the aftertaste of the PATRIOTA cocktail.
What great advice can you give anyone looking to enter cocktail competitions?
Capture, live and enjoy the experience. Push your limits, don’t give up, respect everybody, learn from everyone, come to know them… and always be yourself!
If you could do just one guest shift with anyone in the world, where would it be and who would it be with?
This is the hardest question of them all!! There are so many amazing bartenders and places!! Sorry but it’s not possible to make a choice!
(In Latin PATRI = Father and OTA = Land).
PATRIOTA is the Spanish/Italian word for ‘patriot,’ which is a noun recognizable in most of the national spoken languages in the world. PATRIOTA, above all, is a tribute to Emilio Bacardi Moreau, son of Don Facundo Bacardi Masso (the creator of Bacardi Rum). Emilio was defined as rum baron by day and freedom fighter by night; he put his life and livelihood on the line to aid Cuba in its fight for the independence. Emilio was rewarded for his patriotism, when he returned from exile he became the first freely elected major of Santiago the Cuba.
Glassware: Coupette or martini
Garnish: Fresh mint sprig
35ml Café Cubano (made with 2bsp of castor sugar and 25ml of coffee from Italian MOKA pot) or replaceable with 25ml espresso and 10ml of rich sugar syrup
45ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
10ml Mozart Gold Chocolate cream liqueur
10ml Branca Menta
Method: shaken and stained, served up.