Here at Spiegelau, we want you to raise the bar.
Our Perfect Serve Collection is all about drinking well, staying classy and having a good time doing it. To celebrate this, we asked four bars across the country to talk to us about cocktails, inspiration, and what makes them unique.
We've headed to Bar Machiavelli in Sydney's Rushcutters Bay, to speak with Matteo Belkeziz, Restaurant/Bar Manager and Sommelier, and find out what to expect from this hidden little gem.
Bar Machiavelli is primarily a cocktail bar but this seriously cool venue, which used to be a tyre factory, also offers awesome food and a wine list with over 40 wines by the glass. What's not to like?
How did you become a bartender and how long have you been doing it?
I started as a club promoter. In the beginning, it was just for fun and extra money, but I really liked the nightlife and decided to enrol in a bartending school in Florence to learn some new skills. That was the moment when my passion for drinks, cocktails and service exploded.
I must admit that I’ve been very lucky to find the right people on my path to teach and guide me through the first steps in this amazing industry. I started as a bar back and worked my way up step by step. Even after 15 years, there are still many steps ahead but always the same enthusiasm.
What do you love most about your job?
Bartending is fun. You have the chance to travel and meet people from all walks of life... and you don’t have to sit at a desk eight hours a day. It’s amazing how one cocktail (or a few), and a couple of minutes of listening to a guest, can make their day.
Plus it’s an essential job. After a week at work, people need somewhere to unwind so they can do it all over again the following week. Bars are where a lot of people go to do that, and the best service is needed for that important daily ‘ritual’.
Describe your bar in five words.
Sophisticated, cosy, elegant, vibrant and sexy!
What's your signature cocktail?
The entire list is designed to satisfy every drinker's need and taste, but no doubt one of my favourites is The Prince VS The Count, inspired by Machiavelli’s name and his Italian tradition. Niccolo Machiavelli was a politician, philosopher and writer from Florence, whose most renowned work was called The Prince. Years later, the iconic Negroni cocktail was mixed in the same city by Camillo Negroni, better known as Count Negroni.
I wanted to create a cocktail that would reflect the Italian culture in a more edgy interpretation, and as I am from Florence myself, I thought a twist on a classic Negroni would be a perfect choice. We decided to enrich the gin with grappa, Italian eau de vie, before ageing it in an oak barrel for complexity and smoothness. The cocktail is served on a crystal ice rock and completed with Campari dust on the rim.
What’s your favourite spirit to mix cocktails with, and why?
It really depends on my mood and who’s ordering the drink in front of me. I’m a dark spirits lover, from Whisky to Cognac, Armagnac to Rum, and my personal taste can be a suggestion to a customer but should not affect their choices. A good bartender has to be able to mix anything in his/her hand and deliver a perfect balance. I have recently noticed a growing demand for Tequila. It’s an amazing spirit with a unique flavour, is very versatile and has great mixing quality.
What do you think is the key to a great cocktail?
- Be simple and find a good balance: it should be harmonious.
- Use your fantasy and keep attention to every single detail.
- Have a passion for what you do and do your homework to increase your knowledge.
- Serve with a smile, positive attitude and good manners.
Our motto is to “Raise the Bar”: what’s your #1 tip for a cocktail lover?
Our focus is to be always on top of the game. Our philosophy is that “You first drink with the eyes, then with the nose and at the end, you sip with your palate”, so everything should be spot on to give you an unforgettable experience. Attention to detail is important.
What’s your favourite thing about the Australian bar scene?
We have a young and beautiful bar scene with plenty of opportunities to be one of the best in the world. Thanks to the great resources we have, Australia can take the best from other countries where the cocktail culture is already strong and well known, learn from their mistakes and make it better.
10 Neild Avenue, Rushcutters Bay NSW