Walking through the classroom hallways I spotted Agostino Perrone. Some may remember him from my first Slow Food festival visit. Unsure he would even remember me, I aimed to reintroduce myself; to my delight he recalled who I was and details from how we met. It struck me that he must have seen many faces since we met 4 years ago, the numerous stories shared over cocktails, the amount of life or travel experiences he must have had in that time… I believe a good barman makes you remember them, a great barman remembers you.
It is funny how some things happen and which paths cross years after diverging. I was originally signed up for a class with Nordic Food Lab about insects! I thought it would be a very interesting article to write. Unfortunately, the class was cancelled because the organizers were unable to clear the insects through customs. However, I believe things happen for a reason. And so fate would have it… one cancelled class plus one long overdue reencounter equaled an impromptu invitation to a class that would cause me to create a new term: benchmarksman.
A person that is skilled or proficient in their trade to a degree that they can be used as a standard or reference point by which something can be measured or judged.
Working in hotels generally means facing a lot of red tape to get approvals. Agostino Perrone has the distinct pleasure of working for an employer that not only recognizes his talent but is also willing to provide him with the right setting to display it. Notwithstanding, he has had his fair share of encounters trying to ensure that the service he provides at the Connaught bar surpasses the highest standards. The Connaught Hotel offers a butler experience that seeks to provide “what you want, how you want, with who you want it.” Through strategic partnerships, careful design and a healthy dose of inspiration from eras past, this London placed bar leaves guests wanting for naught.
A certain set of dynamics occur in hospitality facilities around the world. Kitchens and bars have as many similarities as they do contrasts. Chefs live for fire, barmen live for ice. Agostino Perrone had a few suggestions though. Keep in mind “chefs always want to punch you in the face. Give them something and they will give you something.” Everything is a team effort and you should always thank your staff. Always, always “put everything back where you find it”, both in the bar and in the kitchen.
Bartenders should be part seducers, psychologists, thespians and artisans. I was thrilled to “assist” such a barman in the crafting of a martini. The concoction beautifully balanced dry Bordiga gin, amalfi lemon and cardamom bitters. I used to believe I was not a martini drinker. Under the effortless aid of Agostino, I was quickly cured of this notion, realizing any others I had tasted had been produced by hands uneducated in the delicacy of a martini. He crafted my cocktail scenting the gin with subtle sensual moves as he poured and remembering the mantra to serve it “straight up with style and don’t forget to smile”.
Agostino Perrone is the type of colleague that I would like to shadow and observe the symphony of his work flow. I believe it would be similar to my experiences in Barcelona. It is a truly rewarding experience to be just a fly on the wall sometimes. Although I very much look forward to the day I can seat myself in style at the Connaught Bar, I know I would enjoy being an observer just as much as being a guest.
So I award Agostino Perrone my first ever Benchmarksman accolade. Thank you for setting the bar (pun fully intended) high. Cheers!
Until next time…