Bar Interview with Paolo Tonellotto
World Best Bar
Mar 29, 2018
26 November 2020
Bermondsey Street has become something of a destination of late for people who take pleasure in food and drink. The change has happened fairly rapidly, with the stylish New York-style cocktail bar Village East being joined by the hugely popular Italian restaurant Zucca (you try getting a table there at short notice) and Jose Pizarro’s two Spanish-inspired venues, Jose, the tiny but lively Madrid-style tapas bar and the more spacious Pizarro. One of the pioneers in this swiftly changing landscape was the Hide Bar at the top end of Bermondsey Street, a dark, urban space where the drinks take centre stage. Vintage and classic cocktails are something of a speciality and there’s an elegant vintage cocktail bar in one corner. World’s Best Bars spoke to General Manager Paolo Tonellotto about classic cocktails and what makes the perfect bar for an after-work drink.
Tell us a bit about the Hide Bar.
We opened in January 2007 with the intention of being the best quality for the best value in an area of London which, at the time, didn’t have many bars of the kind. We hope that people who are passionate about cocktails will come every night to enjoy a drink without fuss, talking each other or to the bartenders, leaving the stress of the working day behind as they come through the door, just as a real bar should be. A bar should owe its popularity to the quality of its drinks, and people – including the bartenders – should be able to afford them!
There’s an emphasis on classic and vintage drinks in your menu – is that something that particularly interests you?
The vintage style of our drinks clearly reflects our taste and it’s intended to be a sign of great respect for all our customers: great spirits mixed in such a way to better amplify their characteristics rather than smothering them. The heart of any drink should be the spirit and not the syrup or garnish.
The vintage cocktail bar is a nice touch. Where did you find it and is it ever used?
Our vintage bar has been bought few years ago with the purpose of tastings and master classes for our customers and it is still used often.
What is the most popular drink on your menu?
Our most popular drink is the Old Fashioned, it’s the king of our drinks list and sells more than our Mojitos – what an achievement!
Other than your own, what is your favourite bar in the world?
Montgomery Place in London or Jerry Thomas in Rome
Do you have any bar tending heroes?
The guy who got me into the industry: Roberto Artusio, co-founder of the Jerry Thomas Project in Rome.
Written by Natasha Tripney