woensdag 5 december 2018

Amaro Montenegro Residency 2018 (2/2) : Hotels, bars and restaurants

Disclaimer :
Amaro Montenegro Residency 2018 was an international event which took place in Bologna, Florence and Rome. For this reason I decided to write the articles about this event in English. This second article from the series will however be summarized and translated for our sisterblog Tineke’s Cucina.
I was invited to this press-event by Amaro Montenegro and their distributor Cinoco. The complete content of these articles are my personal opinion and describe my experiences during this trip. I don’t want to promote any kind of abusive drinking. Enjoy quality drinks, but don’t drink too much. During this trip we always had rented transport with a professional driver to take us back to the hotels.

Amaro Montenegro Residency 2018 was een internationaal evenement wat doorging in Bologna, Firenze en Rome. Om die reden heb ik besloten om de artikels over dit event in het Engels te schrijven. Dit tweede artikel uit de reeks zal echter samengevat en vertaald worden voor onze zusterblog Tineke’s Cucina.
Ik nam deel aan deze perstrip als blogger/verslaggever op uitnodiging van Amaro Montenegro en hun distributeur Cinoco. De volledige inhoud van het artikel is mijn persoonlijke mening en het relaas van mijn ervaring. Ik wil absoluut geen drankmisbruik promoten. Geniet van kwalitatieve drankjes, maar met mate. Gedurende deze volledige reis hadden we ook steeds een gehuurd transport met chauffeur ter beschikking om ons terug naar de hotels te brengen.

Amaro Montenegro Residency 2018 : Hotels, bars and restaurants

In this second article about my amazing week in Italy, I will list the hotels, bars and restaurants we visited during this trip and highlight the specials for each venue. At each venue our tables were booked, but they probably didn’t know we also had industry icons Peter Dorelli and Salvatore Calabrese with us. The bartenders were star-gazed at every single bar we visited and we got to try a lot of amazing drinks. Each bar had created a special menu for us with a few Amaro Montenegro cocktails. In Italy most restaurants have a well-stocked bar and make pretty good cocktails. Lots of cocktailbars also offer fingerfood. Some cocktailbars even double as very good restaurants. The places where we had lunch or dinner are in the “Where to eat” parts. The places we visited before or after our meals are in the “Where to drink” parts.

Hotels in Bologna, Florence and Rome

Art Hotel Orologio (Via IV Novembre 10c, Bologna)  
Very nice hotel located next to the Piazza Maggiore, which is the very center of Bologna. Around the corner is the Neptune statue, which inspired car manufacturer Maserati for their logo. I stayed in this hotel for three days together with the other bloggers, journalists and the people of Amaro Montenegro. The breakfast buffet was excellent and lots of guests passed by it again on their way out to grab another cookie or apple. In the evening and the first part of the night the Piazza Maggiore stays very much alive with singing youngsters and street musicians. The reception stays open throughout the night, so it’s nog problem if you want to return to your room at 2:30 in the morning. Speaking from my own experience ;-)

The competing bartenders stayed at another hotel : Il Portici (Via dell’ Indipenza 69) 

NH Collection Hotel Porta Rossa (Via Porta Rossa 19, Florence)  
This is the oldest hotel in Italy and one of the oldest hotels in the world. This 5-star hotel is beyond any doubt the most luxurious hotel we had during this trip. My room even had two levels, the toilet and bathroom were located at a lower level, a few steps down. The room had a giant bed and TV screen, which was a bit of a pity since our nights were very short all week long ;-)

Breakfast was served in a pretty large breakfast room, divided into cosy seatings which gave you a bit of privacy. The buffet was also divided into multiple smaller buffets. If you wanted a bit of honey with your cheese, you didn’t need to look for a jar. You could scoop it right off a honeycomb. A glass of bubbles was also possible, but as it was very early in the morning I kept to my cappuccino.

Grand Hotel De La Minerve (Piazza della Minerva, 69, Roma)
In Rome we also stayed in a 5-star luxury hotel in the old center. When you left the hotel through the main entrance, you looked right at the Parthenon. The iconic Trevi fountain was only a 9 minute walk away. The most famous cocktailbar of Rome was only a 13 minute walk away. The lobby is huge and has a beautiful glass roof. The best part of this hotel is without any doubt the rooftop bar/restaurant. Sipping your cappuccino and enjoying breakfast while looking out on the old center of Rome is simply priceless.

Where to eat in Bologna

Oltre (Via Augusto Majani 1B) 
Restaurant at a street corner. Here we could connect a bit deeper with the participants and the marketing team of Amaro Montenegro.

Dolce&Salato Bistro (Via Santo Stefano 1a) Lunch and dessert bistro which we also used for afternoon workshops. Most interesting was the fact they served an excellent prosecco through the entire lunch. By now I also realized that what Italians call a “light lunch” is always 3 to 4 courses with apero before and coffee after.

Ruggine (Vicolo Alemagna 2C) 
Tabanco style restaurant and bar where we enjoyed some typical Tuscan food the evening before the competition. ‘Shabby’ interior but everything seems to fit right in place. Great antipasti, pasta with ragù and a main dish what looked like chicken but what was actually veal.

Buca San Petronio (Via de Musei 2/4) 
Restaurant right across the street from Nu Lounge, but you go down the stairs and then it hits you that you are more or less below the bar. I grabbed the menu to share it with you :

• Balanzone Verdi ripieno di mortadella e ricotta, infusion di burro e rosmarino
• Guancia di vitello brasata al sangiovese di Romagna
• Torta al choccolato servita con scorzette di arancia confit
• Caffè e amaro

Where to drink in Bologna

Gesto (Via Porte Nova 4) 
Cosy bar near to the Piazza Maggiore, were we gathered on the first evening with all the participants for this trip. A group of bartenders, industry professionals, bloggers and journalists. Nice drinks and fingerfood.

K Factory (Corte Isolani, 3a/b) 
Cocktail Bar situated in a mall with several bars and restaurants. Perfect spot to visit with a group.

Camera con Vista (Piazza Santo Stefano) 
Unique bar at Bologna’s most fascinating square.

The Nu Lounge (Via de’ Musei 6) 
This is my favorite bar in Bologna. Very nice tiki-lounge with very fun bartenders. They are constantly playing with fire and smoke. A few times we thought we had to ring the fire department. Excellent hotspot to have a good time with your friends.

Where to eat in Florence

Trattoria La Stracotto (Piazza di Madonna degli Aldobrandini 17) Small trattoria in front of the piazza. Perfect for a good lunch with typical Tuscan food.

Locale (Via delle Seggiole 12r) 
Probably one of the most beautiful bars in the world. The backbar is simply impressive. The walls are faux-green and very Instagram-worthy. In summer they can open the roof and the whole building is on top of a historic location. We visited the basement bar and kitchen which dates from the middle ages and are on the former street level. The back of the bar serves as a restaurant were we had the most amazing steak Florentine. Without any doubt the best meat I had in months. Chewing the bone was recommended, which was the green light for my friend Xander. The worst damage was solved with a wet cloth ;-)

Where to drink in Florence

Caffè Gilli (Via Roma, 1r) This is the bar with famous Head Bartender Luca Picchi, also known as Mr. Negroni. He wrote 4 books just about the Negroni cocktail. It’s a bar which also serves as a chocolate and dessert store. If you like cocktails you will feel REALLY “like a kid in a candy store”.

Manifattura (Piazza di San Pancrazio 1) : This bar looks like a Spanish Tabanco and is actually inside an old Tabacco factory. Long narrow place with skilled bartender Fabiano Fabiani who makes delicious cocktails but also serves excellent prosecco.

Where to eat in Rome

Voia – Food, wine & Cocktail bar (Via Nomentana 926) This brand new bar and restaurant with Chef Davide Del Duce just opened 10 days before our visit. It is a large glass complex in a nice garden. They also have a pizza oven operated by Pizza-Chef Fabrizio di Leginio. He gave us a crash-course in pizza baking, which looks a lot easier than it really is. Scooping up the pizza to place it in the 300° oven is not easy at all. This will soon be the place to be !

The CornerMarco Martini Restaurant (Via Avellino 121)  This restaurant with Chef Marco Martini and Head Bartender Daniele Gentili was awarded with a Michelin Star. We enjoyed a very nice dinner in the glasshouse, each course paired with a perfectly matching cocktail. In the street it’s easy to miss the entrance. You need to go up a stairs to reach the door. Since this was the very best dinner we had on this trip, I gladly share the menu :

• Chef’s Welcome
o Orama : Amaro Montenegro, Karkade and Kombutcha
• Red Pepper… with Tuna
o Bacco, tabacco e Venere : Amaro Montenegro and Macademia nuts. Select. Smoked Honey syrup. Cherry and acid green appel juice, burlesque bitter
• Amatriciana Sauce Cuttelfish
o Falso di te : Amaro Montenegro. Beer. Italicus bergamoth rosalio. Lemon. Apple juice.
• Mortadella Tortello white pizza and pistachio
o Dream in the afternoon : Amaro Montenegro. Beluga vodka. Elderflower liqueur. Basil syrup. Citrus bitter. Champagne.
• Guinea fowl. Mushrooms. Pine nuts. Shallot
o Nerone al Monte : AMaro Montenegro. Liquorice and basil reduction. Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel . Select. SMC Mix. Beer and Roman chamomile foam.
• Mont Blanc… Cannolo
o Grandma’s Boy : Amaro Montenegro Rosso Antico. Pedro Ximenez Eggnog. Grandma’s bitter. Pistachio and coffee syrup.
• Petit Four.
o Espresso.  

Where to drink in Rome

Freni e Frizioni (Via del Politeama 4) Nice cocktailbar in a busy street. Here you can also get some free fingerfood while enjoying your cocktails. The music reminded me of Berlin style underground bars.

Il Marchese Amaro-Bar (Via di Ripetta 162) 
Well-known Amaro-bar with over 500 amari on the backbar. Ask for their Garibaldi, it’s a lot better that what you usually get for this simple “Campari Orange” cocktail. They combine skills and modern bar techniques to reach perfection!

Drink Kong (Via Francesco Zanardi 16) 
Brand new bar of bartender Patrick Pistolesi. Just opened a few weeks ago. Nightlife bar featured with a double bar. The place has more or less an L-shape.
The Grand Hotel De La Minerve was also located at a 13 minute walk to Rome’s most famous speakeasy cocktailbar The Jerry Thomas Project. This bar wasn’t included in our trip, but some bartenders went there anyway during our last night in Rome. I couldn’t join them because I had an early flight back to Belgium.

Thank You !

I absolutely want to thank Amaro Montenegro and distributor Cinoco for inviting me to this awesome trip. The drinks and food were amazing, the people were fantastic.
Congratulations to all the participating bartenders, because they were all winners of their country competition. Special congrats to Andrea who won the first Vero Bartender Global Final.

Thank you to Rudi, Elena, Valentina, Roberta and the rest of the team for the invite and for introducing us to industry icons like Peter and Salvatore.

Thanks to the bloggers, journalists and industry people for having me in their group. I’m still amazed by people like Eddie who has over 270000 followers on his Cocktails for You Instagram-account. This makes me realize how much work he has done and how much work I still have to do !

Hope to see all of again some time at another spirits event !

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