Mixology master Christian Maspes has joined The Churchill Bar & Terrace at an exciting time, with the recent announcement of a new book in partnership with imperial War Museums, Churchill’s Cocktails, and a new travel-inspired cocktail menu, World of Wanderlust.
Christian Maspes has experience working at some of the leading London hotel bars for over a decade, including the American Bar at The Savoy, Gong Bar at Shangri-La, and Pine Bar at The Biltmore. We caught up with Christian to talk about all things cocktails.
How did it all start?
About 20 years ago, I fell in love with flair and the magical show of the bar. I started in a small city in north Italy and slowly I developed my knowledge and fed my passion till I decided to move to London.
How has the London hotel bar scene changed in the last 15 years?
I could say London faced 3 different stages during the last 15 years.
When I moved to London in 2007 Hospitality was divided in just a few different areas: A 5* hotel triangle (based in Mayfair, Hyde park Corner and Green Park); Soho area with the street bars and private clubs; and a part of Portobello road. At that time Shoreditch was still new and The Savoy & The Connaught had closed for restoration. At that time fruity martinis were very popular, like lychee martinis and strawberry daiquiris. Bartenders then started to create homemade syrups and basic infusions.
Then around the London 2012 Olympic games, things started to be more and more competitive in hospitality and a lot of companies fused together. Beverage firms also exploded with more gin producers and artisanal gin, liquors and more varieties of vermouths. Bartenders started to get inspired by culinary techniques and ingredients.
Today, bartending is a more complex profession which requires a more technical knowledge and a lot of study about ingredients and modern techniques of preparation.
What are your top 3 bars for martinis in the world?
– Mori Bar (Tokyo)
– Connaught Bar (London)
– Boadas (Barcelona)
Tell us about your new book in partnership with imperial War Museums all about Churchill’s Cocktails.
It is a great collection of cocktails recipes inspired by Winston Churchill’s life. Those cocktails have been previously served at The Churchill Bar as signature drinks and were a great success. This is a great way to tell Churchill’s story and achievements.
Can sustainability in mixology ever become the norm?
I have been a keen conservationist since I was 15 in Italy, when I joined Greenpeace. I do believe the biggest threat facing us is the climate crisis, and we as an industry can do much more to combat this. As a hotel bar, we have access to many ingredients and resources in the kitchen and it is easy to prevent waste – I’ve previously used cleaned out oyster shells from the kitchen as garnishes, pasta shapes as straws, and fermented produce to create liquids. At the Churchill Bar & Terrace, I’d like to look into growing our own herbs and plants, cultivating beehives to create our own mead, and working with lower carbon spirits providers. All of these things together can make a huge difference in the long run, while still providing delicious and exciting cocktails for people.
Tell us all about your new World of Wanderlust cocktail menu at The Churchill Bar & Terrace.
Our World of Wanderlust menu has been inspired by our award-winning mixologists’ own unforgettable treasured travel memories from around the world. It is supposed to be an experience across the globe, making our own guests to take a look back at their own cherished travels and feel the wanderlust ignite through each sip on a unique cocktail journey of discovery. For example, La Tomatina is a tomato inspired cocktail to celebrate the La Tomatina festival in the city of Bunol, Valencia. Picture the entire city being painted red, as the whole community comes together in a friendly tomato fight. The creation infuses nordes gin, basil syrup and a clever lacto tomato salt solution to balance it all out.
Which bartenders inspire you and why?
Erik Lorincz – I spent 2 years with this global legend, a true Gentleman, not only was he a consummate professional but also a great colleague and friend. The equivalent of a bartending James Bond.
What is the weirdest drinks order you have ever prepared?
A mystery box competition drink with Scotch whisky, banana, soy sauce and bay leaves.
What are your top tips for bartenders?
- Be creative and innovative
- Love this profession in all its shapes and sizes
- Never stop challenging yourself
What is next for The Churchill Bar & Terrace?
We want to preserve the roots and heritage of the bar and of the Building. The Churchill bar will continue to follow the DNA of the venue, but definitely we will orientate the bar towards sustainability and this will be a long journey, where every day we will add projects and new elements.
What is your life motto?
If you are tired of Negronis, you are tired of life.
To discover more about The Churchill Bar & Terrace, visit: thechurchillbar.co.uk
Imagery courtesy of The Churchill Bar & Terrace.
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