The lines at Paradiso Bar in Barcelona (Spain) are believed to be so long that guests are encouraged to download an app to alert them when their entry to the bar is confirmed. Fortunately for me, due to Dram Attic and ZLB23 at the Leela Palace, Bengaluru, my path to paradise – or rather Paradiso – involved no more than hopping on a flight to the Tech City.
With us on this spangly night at ZLB 23 are Giacomo Giannotti and Margarita Sader of Paradiso, partners not just in the bar, but also in life. They both met many years ago in Barcelona, both far away from home – she a fashion designer and hospitality professional from Venezuela, and Giacomo, a bartender from Italy.
Eight years ago, they started their dream project, Paradiso Bar, with the aim of putting into practice what they had both learnt during their careers in the hospitality industry.
The name Paradiso was very special to Giaocomo. Growing up in Tuscany, his family had a gelato business called Gelateria Paradiso, that was run by his family and brothers, where he imbibed a passion for hospitality.
Fast forward to 2022, to the World’s 50 Best Bars Awards, that were coincidentally being held in Barcelona. For the first time in the history of the awards, a bar from outside London or New York was voted the #1 bar in the world.
Not just that, but three bars from Barcelona (SIPS and Two Schmucks being the others), featured in the World’s Top 10 bars.
When I ask Margarita and Giacomo about the significance of this feat, he tells me, “It’s very important for the city and the bartending community to have three bars in the Top 10 in the world, because it makes the city not just a gastronomic voyage but also a cocktail capital. This is important not just for Paradiso but for every bar in Barcelona. For us it’s an honour – and a responsibility as well, to be an example for all our community.”
Margarita likes to add: “India is also growing in this sector. If you make partnerships with the people next to you, more people would like to come to your country because they have more selection of places to visit.
“So, if you have a good gastronomy option they will come; if you have good cocktails options, then more people will come. So it’s a very nice recommendation that I have for the bars in India, to come together and do it as a team,” she adds.
Come evening and ZLB23, a Kyoto-style speakeasy nestled in the Leela Palace, is showcasing four cocktails made by the Paradiso pair: Tesla (Tanqueray 10, Gardeum, Camomile, Feijoa Wine); Sea Heart (Ketel One, Fino sherry, olives, pine nuts, tomato water, seaweed soda): Copper (Johnnie Walker Gold Label, pink pepper, sherry, truffle, artichoke, Polar mint tincture, Rose water); and my favourite of the evening, Evolution Negroni (Copper Dog, mango, vanilla, Campari, cocoa, chai tea, amaretto).
From 8-11 pm, Giacomo is a powerhouse of energy behind the bar, while front of house, Margarita is helping guests make sense of the menu and recommend what might fit their palates better.
Giacomo tells me, “Our concept at Paradiso is to have an amazing experience for our clients, to awaken their five senses. But most important one is the sixth sense, what we call ‘emotions’. Each client who comes into Paradiso has a beautiful and warm welcome and a surprise.”
Sustainability is a growing trend in the hospitality industry around the world, and Paradiso has a zero-waste lab that helps put theory into practice. Margarita tells me that it’s not just about ‘no waste’, recycling and up-cycling but “also about human sustainability”. My curiosity piqued; I ask her what she means.
At Paradiso, she tells me, “Our staff works a 4-day, 40-hour week, giving them three days to rest and recharge”. Quite revolutionary, I thought, but indeed, a happy staff member is going to result in a happy customer.
On October 17th, the finale of World’s 50 Best Bars 2023, it will be interesting to see if Paradiso retains its crown. I, for one, will be rooting for them.
All in all, this is a great initiative by ZLB23 to bring the best of what the world has to offer to Bengaluru. As Pradeep Kandari of The Leela Palace says, “Our goal is to promote the rich Indian cocktail culture and showcase it on the international stage by bringing the world's top bars to Bengaluru.” Amen!
Giacomo and Margarita pose with the crew and managers of ZLB23, the Kyoto-style speakeasy nestled in the Leela Palace, Bengaluru.