Havana, Cuba
Saturday, 19 April 2014 - 11:24:53 PM
Monday, 14 April 2014

Alirio Padeiro

 
04:44 AM

We’re going to meet up with Alirio Padeiro, a talented bartender who defended the Swiss colours at the Havana Club Cocktail Grand Prix in 2012

We’re going to meet up with Alirio Padeiro, a talented bartender who defended the Swiss colours at the Havana Club Cocktail Grand Prix in 2012

By François Monti

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04:35 AM

Faithful to his training in palaces, Alirio always keeps clients in mind

It’s a lovely summer evening in Geneva. The banks of the lake are filling up with a crowd eager to enjoy the first night of the ‘Fêtes de Genève’. But today, we prefer to head towards a quieter street, within walking distance of the iconic Water Jet. We’re going to meet up with Alirio Padeiro, a talented bartender who defended the Swiss colours at the Havana Club Cocktail Grand Prix in 2012. 

Alirio is waiting for us just outside L’Atelier, the medium-sized bar he opened with Christophe Clément in May 2011. It’s a nice place, neither trying to intimidate the uninitiated nor to dazzle the luxury crowd Geneva sometimes attract. Amidst the flea market look and vintage furniture, you could be anywhere in the world and yet you still feel this is a place with its own soul in a city not known for its vibrant cocktail culture. “Before we opened”, says Alirio, “cocktails were a five-star hotel thing. We really wanted to provide quality at affordable prices. In Geneva, a cocktail can set you back 19 euros, ours cost 13.” 

Born in France, Alirio’s been working in Geneva for almost 10 years now. First, as a waiter at the very exclusive Platinum Club. Attracted by the bar – and, at the time, flairtending – he decided to take matters in his own hands and followed trainings in Paris before travelling around Europe to discover various drink cultures. After working for the summer season at Stars ‘n’ Bars in Monaco (“making cocktails for the terrace, I can tell you it’s a great way to lose weight”), Alirio went back to Geneva where he was hired by the Richemond Hotel, a five-star palace, where he worked with Antonio Dandrea. “I was really at the heart of the Italian bar school. My first cocktail was thrown down the drain, before anyone could have a sip. I had to rethink everything I had learned so far.” Alirio learned, and fast. He then moved on to the Mandarin Oriental where he did the opening of the bar and restaurant. Two years later, he felt ready to open his own place. 

So nice bar, good prices and local knowledge are very important things to run a business, but what about the drinks? What stroke us on our visit is how different the menu is from trendy bars in other cities. “I think some bartenders go for things that are too complicated and I’m not quite sure following trends is a great idea. I’d rather have a well made Piña Colada than an Old-Fashioned without balance”. Faithful to his training in palaces, he always keeps clients in mind. “What people want to drink changes according to their state of mind. You have to have something for everyone. The Chefs I’ve worked with influenced me and I like my drinks to get to the point. I always think about the Daiquiri: barely three ingredients and… WOW!” 

No surprise then that L’Atelier’s menu has a large Cuban section. “I love rum and its history. Cuba is bound to make my creativity run wild. Cuban cocktails are timeless; they are great, simple drinks. What more can you ask?” Since the 2012 Grand Prix, Alirio went back no less than five times. “I just can’t explain it. A friend of mine says ‘in Cuba, everything and nothing is possible’. Things will infuriate you and the next minute everything will be perfect once more”. On his first visit, an old man led him to one of the numerous bars where Compay Segundo is meant to have drunk. Alirio had his doubts, but at the end of the day, it didn’t matter: he spent hours talking with the gentleman and discovered the Compaio, a Mojito with a splash of red wine. “It reminded me of old people in Portugal, my parents’ country: they add red wine to almost everything”. The Compaio is now a fixture on L’Atelier’s menu and you will probably be able to order it at the Buena Vista Cocktail Club, Alirio’s third bar (the second one, called L’Apothicaire, opened in 2012), due to open next May. As Alirio is quick to point out, other people are also making great cocktails in Geneva – he mentions The Barbershop and Nicolas Berger at Le Chat Noir – but for a real taste of Cuba, you know where to go. 



Rosa Parks Cocktail 


60 ml Havana Club añejo 7 años 
30 ml Havana Club añejo 3 años infused with Partagas D4 
15 ml Falernum 
1 piece of sugar Dashes of homemade bitters
 
Stir over ice in mixing glass, strain in old-fashioned glass over a big ice-ball, garnish with an orange twist.

By François Monti

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04:34 AM

A real taste of Cuba: the Rosa Parks

A real taste of Cuba: the Rosa Parks

By François Monti

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Havana, Cuba
Saturday, 19 April 2014 - 11:24:53 PM
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