Like latter-day superheroes, our interviewees have more heightened senses than us mere mortals. They are modern gods of alchemy, with a gift that is more developed than the rest of us. For they possess the skills to transport us through time and space with an array of sweet, salty, sour, smooth, hot and acidic flavours. With just one sip we can be taken to an exotic place or happier time.
BRIAN MCGREGOR, BEACH CLUB BLUE MARLIN IBIZA
Twist of orange
A fresh and elegant cocktail, with an acidic touch smoothened by the sweetness of peach and coconut water, which also contrasts in contrast with the bitterness of Aperol.
Their powerful weapon is the aroma distilled from their combinations of citrus, wood notes and spices. Of course, these days they are referred to as “botanicals” by people who don’t want to look like they’re out of the game in front of those magicians who command the bars. “Botanicals”: remember this magical term that encases all the secrets of the aromatic plants. “Colours, textures – everything makes up their base,” says Brian McGregor (Blue Marlin Ibiza), “to which you have to add techniques such as infusions, syrups, slow cooking and vacuum sealing. There’s even the molecular issue. The cocktail makers are no longer there just to serve drinks, especially after the whole success of the star chefs. Now when we are talking about gastronomy food and drink go hand in hand.”
MARCO ANGELICCHIO, OCEAN BEACH CLUB
Flambé pineapple and
An exquisite and complex elaboration that requires skill to follow all the steps. A perfumed cocktail that is also beautiful to the eye.
Marco from Ocean Beach Ibiza is a Sardinian with the Mediterranean running through his veins. “I prepare my own syrups,” he says, “and infuse them to make unique and personal flavours. It’s about adding something from me to every drink. I usually play with sour touches for contrast. I would tell you more, but I would have to kill you after,” he laughs. His demeanour is like that of Robert De Niro, making us doubt for a second if he’s really joking. Well, a second only – we’re just on the first drink.
JOSE FRAN MARTINS SILVA, HARD ROCK
Ron Brugal 1888
Zumo de lima
Zumo de naranja
Bitter de chocolate
Agua de coco
A real party in the palate: refreshing, acid, with softened bitter hints and sweetened with chocolate and coconut. The personality of the Brazilian mixologist in one glass.
“The technique cannot overshadow the emotion,” says Brazilian Jose Fran from The Beach Club Hard Rock. “I love taking the client to a point where, for a few seconds, he or she forgets what they were thinking – with a salty and smoky sorbet, for example – and that sudden but brief and intense confusion that takes them to a sensory orgasm. It is my way of evangelising it, to make the drinker want to return and try something new that takes them to that state as many times as they want.”
EMILIO JIMÉNEZ, USHUAÏA BEACH CLUB
Agua de coco
Domain de Canton
Sake Takara Mio
A stylish and exotic combination that is complex but balanced in the mouth. The Valencian cocktail maker tops his creation with a flower that brings the light and colour of the beach.
“There are people who come to a bar to get drunk or to make life sweeter,” confesses Emilio Jimenez from Ushuaïa Beach Club. This comes from a Piscean who loves poetry, cooking and mixing. “In the same way that there are cocktails for every mood, there are also cocktails for every moment of the day and for every place. I make cocktails for the beach; I like to make refreshing drinks for relaxed people by the sea.” The sea of Ibiza is a key element in the seduction of our senses.
ÁNGEL SALAZAR , ATZARÓ BEACH CLUB
Review of the classic Piña Colada with a Mediterranean twist, with a touch of bitter almonds and reinforce by the Orange bitter but sweetened with the natural pineapple..
“It is an island, and the sea is present everywhere and in everything,” explains Angel Salazar from Atzaro Beach Club. “I am originally from Malaga. I connect with the Mediterranean spirit and my cocktail making is based on the fragrances and flavours of this land. Ibiza tastes of oranges, almonds, rosemary, and tomato plants – I feel sorry for those who’ve never smelled a tomato pulled straight from the plant – to a sea that captivates you. I work by the big blue, so I like to go for fresh, fruity and lively flavours.”
SALVA MARTIN MILLÁN, KM 5
Sirope de ágave
Agua de coco
Licor de fresa /
An intense flavour of wood, a perfect cocktail for lovers of pure aromas and flavours. The flower adds elegance to its strength.
Another man from Malaga in the group is Salva Martin Millan (KM 5), who prefers pure flavours in more simple combinations that don’t hide the real essence of the drink. “Technique helps, but you cannot leave psychology aside. Never. And even less when you are working somewhere busy and where you must create beauty in huge quantities,” he says. “You must face the challenges, get organised and look for a ‘why’ in every cocktail.”
“The organisation in a bar is essential,” says Marco. “You must know each cocktail well, win your client over, attend to him and train him because a cocktail maker is like a rocker on a stage. You also have to know how to win the audience, to make them happy.” Happiness is that difficult but vital aim that our guests, surrounded by open bottles and aromas of rum, tequila and scotch, help us to achieve effortlessly. “It’s about teamwork,” says Brian, who has 43 people working under his helm in the four venues of the group. “There are very refined cocktail makers, others are quicker, some are more delicate when serving and others are more perfectionist with the mixing. Your responsibility is to make them understand that the chain is as strong as the weakest link. As a good rugby player would say, my motto is: we triumph together or we sink as a team.” In other words, the bar is a real scrum. However, individuality also triumphs in each team. And it is enough just talking to each one of our mixologists and see how they create one of their formulas to understand. Angel is self-taught and passionate cocktail creator who has read book after book to satisfy his curiosity, a man who would cross the whole island – and back – just to bring back the missing elements to create one of his favourite cocktails: Alichipu (a play on words with the famous Spanish word Achilipu). “Whoever tastes it, cannot stop smiling.” I can quite agree, with that pinch of crushed pink pepper that awakens the senses. “Some clients want to be surprised, others know what they want and are more classical. You must know what they are looking for in order to transport them wherever they want to go.” If you ever see him in the bar of another venue, he will be observing for sure. “I love learning, noticing what the others do. And regarding my job, the truth is that I prefer the satisfaction I bring to others than drinking it myself.” Pure generosity.
Jose Fran is full of life, a man able to leave work and family to start the dream of his life, which he faces with a burst of energy. “When I started with combinations of 30 ingredients, they used to tell me that was impossible, but there is nothing impossible. I don’t like boring cocktails, the fix recipes.” This comes from the creator of a cocktail genre, a fusion of Tiki with Brazilian that has taken him to participate in international contests and be ranked as one of the 20 best cocktail makers in Spain. Don’t fool yourselves by Emilio’s humility. After the apparent simplicity of his cocktail making on the beach there is a perfectionist able to create gin and tonics with mushroom essence and sea foam from egg whites. An inventor of combinations such as Mojito Valencia or Sake de Corner – with kiwi fruit, chocolate and pineapple – he prefers vodka because it is a pure and neutral alcohol that he can blend easily with the botanicals. “I like that inspiration is born from pressure, from the products I get everyspecial day, because this makes me adapt but it doesn’t restrict your creativity. Completely the opposite in fact.” Marco seems like a smart, agile and observing guy. One of those who studies with close attention to every single detail before saying anything – and he likes to keep it quiet. He is one of those who would take an X-ray before giving the correct diagnosis. “What I like is when a client approaches without knowing what they want and I prepare a drink that goes perfectly with their personality, with their taste.” He has sharp eye. But his risks are born from the security brought by the classics. “They are classics for a reason, because they are infallible recipes. I like to give them a twist, play with the distils.” Brian is a Uruguayan with Scottish and Basque blood, an unusual combination. He speaks with assertion and rigour, but he also knows how to have fun. Now, of course, he knows when to be rigorous and when to be fun. The elegant presence of Salva hides a strong personality that is confirmed with the use of mescal. “At the age of 18 I was working at night, and when I started my own business I created more than half the cocktails on my menu. Here I have been a waiter and bar manager and I have grown until making my dream come true.” Well, we should clarify: he has also found love. “Here I have also found my partner. It is true that the beauty of work helps to conquer, because it is creative, fascinating and, after a few drinks, we feel more relaxed and happy.” Let’s drink to that. For happiness – and for love.
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