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Q + A with Davide Urgese Head Bartender at ISABEL MAYFAIR LIMITED

07/09/2020 All the way from Apulian province of Brindisi to London, meet head bartender of ISABEL MAYFAIR LIMITED sharing his bartending experience.

I was born in southern Italy, exactly in the Apulian province of Brindisi, the heart  of the area called Salento. There I spent my childhood and studies, finishing a scientific graduate. During the school period I immediately started working in the bar at night and in the summer seasons in the local seaside resorts. Immediately as soon as he finished his studies he left for my summer "away from home" season in the South Tyrolean Apennines. After the latter I started to take the foreign job route, my first stop was Holland, living in the capital Amsterdam. I started to study languages and I came to speak as many as 7 foreign languages and to take hold in a different reality from the village where I arrived. From there I traveled around Europe touching Spain, importing whiskey between Scotland and Italy, I traveled to America, I worked for Arab companies until I arrived in London, the cradle of all bartenders.

Davide Urgese at his Isabel Mayfair Limited

How did you get into Bartending?

Since I was a child I have always been passionate about this world. I remember when my father took me to a bar for the first time and I was immediately struck by how the bartender interacted with customers, so I promised my father that I would do that job even though he hoped that on his son he would get a doctorate and not sacrifice every night for such a tiring job. I started as a barista when I was still in high school, the last few years or so, shortly after I started the profession as a bartender and started traveling by combining business with pleasure, doing what I loved doing the most.I managed to make my father change his mind at the end of the games

Any tips to pass a Bartender job interview?

The first thing to understand is that a job interview makes you grow more than the job itself. It is an exam, where if you are prepared you can do it, on the contrary it makes you realize your shortcomings and gaps and allows you to improve yourself for the next test. Each of us knows what he wants from his life, so the job interview is nothing more than the door to overcome for the sacrifices and studies completed, without fear or fear, all under a veil of humility

What’s your favorite cocktail to make?

One of my favorite cocktails is Sazerac, I love its history and its grotesque originality. This cocktail has an intrinsic value in itself because it tells the evolution of the history of spirits over time, narrating the preface of the bartender's world. Put simply, it plunges me into the past.

What are your bar essentials? 

Even before the knowledge of the job, at the base of the things to have are education and knowing how to welcome and make a customer feel at ease. I always take the example that: "The bar is the place where time stops, where people escape from the constant busy life and stop their time to seek rest and, perhaps, even have a laugh with friends". This makes it clear that a man in the bar must feel welcomed as if he were at home, with kindness and commitment. Afterwards we should educate the client on how to drink and what to drink, having no knowledge all this could not happen. After the knowledge is the humility, which pushes you to improve yourself giving the maximum for you and those around you

Davide Urgese

What according to you are London’s Secret bars?

The so-called modernized American style "speakeasy" bars bring to light some history revisited in the present. Two that I love especially here in London are "Oriole bar" and "La Cabina" are able to identify what exactly were in the past a "clandestine bar", They are the Speakeasy Bars, accessible only to members or, as they call themselves, to members , who to enter either must have a password or must find the entrance having already booked before.

Where and what you drink when not working?

don't have any pre-established bars, I love to change the place from time to time according to my mood. However, I do not despise a good Negroni for an aperitif from the guys of the "Bar Termini", I would drink it in rivers. It seems absurd but I'm not a great lover of mixes, but I would drink anything from the friends of the "Amazonico", from their twist on the classics to a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned classiso prepared by Francesco or Alfonso. Being a gin lover, the stop at "Mr Fogg's" is inevitable.

Your favorite places to get happy hour deals?

Good for a good happy hour is the "Tiger Tiger" from 17:00 to 20:00. Cocktails here start at £ 8.50, great for being in the heart of London. The other is Latin inspired "Barrio Shoreditch", the bar runs one hour of Amigo: every day until 8:00 pm (9:00 pm Sunday and Monday), classic cocktails including mai tais, clover club and caipirinha are only £ 6.80 each. Or even the "Bit At One", where they do the two by one on all the classics and menu cocktails

Your favorite nightclubs?

One of the best clubs I love is located in the heart of London, a couple of minutes from Oxford Circus, the private member "Maddox", is a restaurant / disco designed for a very sophisticated and selective crowd. Another place, one of the most famous places in the capital is "Fabric" in Farringdon. The club has hosted some of the greatest DJs, I consider it the best to go for an evening of dance and beautiful music.

Davide Urgese

What’s the most underrated cocktail ingredient or spirit?

One of my favorite and underrated, I think, is "Italicus". With its bergamot aroma, this liqueur is excellent as an aperitif, its touch of citrus fruits and the scent of gentian enrich the freshness explosion cocktails. One of the best I would say, excellent for long drinks and sour cocktails

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