Our people are what make our restaurants so much more than just places to enjoy great food and drink.
Meet our very own ‘Tom Cruise’ Bar Manager at Gino D’Acampo My Restaurant Manchester.
Federico Spina reckons he can give Hollywood actor Tom Cruise a run for his money in the cocktail making stakes.
Indeed it was the film Cocktail, that inspired him to get involved in the industry and has seen him go on to work in a host of top hotels and swish bars across the world.
Places he has worked in include the five-star Westin Hotel in Milan, bars on Miami’s famous Lincoln Road in South Beach and Tsunami restaurant and the Sky Lounge Bar at the Doubletree Hilton in London.
He said: “I broke a lot of windows and doors at home practising playing with bottles and glasses but I got pretty good at it!
“I still worried I’d spill some when I first started though, especially when I was pouring expensive drinks.
“I think the most expensive drinks I’ve ever served were two doubles of the cognac Tom Cruise drinks in Cocktail – Louis X111 Remy Martin, at £90 a glass.”
Nowadays though, armed with a Masters degree in Food and Beverage Management, his role is less about shaking things up and more about keeping things running smoothly.
The 28-year-old, who has a tattoo of a martini glass on his forearm, began his restaurant and bar career in a beach bar in his native Sicily, 11 years ago, before his work took him abroad.
And he believes every place has its own drinking style.
He said: “In Sicily it’s hot and people drink long drinks but the mixology is not so sophisticated.
“In Miami they drink a lot of flavoured Mojitos and in Milan, where it’s cooler, Aperitivo time is really popular – there are these huge buffets where people meet after work to eat and drink.
“In London, people drink a lot of Espresso and Porn Star Martinis and in Manchester I don’t know people’s favourite drinks yet but a lot seem to like an Aperol Spritz and the sparkling cocktails we serve.”
As for his own drink preferences, he sticks to non-alcoholic options when working.
He said: “I don’t drink very much anyway, only on special occasions, but when I do I love a Classic Daiquiri.
“There are only three ingredients in it – rum, lime and sugar, but it’s not easy to make a really good one.”
It was not just mixing drinks that the affable Italian had to learn though – when he arrived in England aged 24 he admits his English left something to be desired but persevered and now says he can talk to anyone.
He said: “I used to be really shy but being a barman helped me a lot to overcome that.
“People who work in bars are like doctors – we are there to listen.
“I have seen everything and you hear so many stories but at the end of the shift you forget it all.”
When he is not working, the water polo and kickboxing fan is to be found either at the gym or cooking up a mean Spaghetti Carbonara at home.
He said: “I don’t often go out to restaurants or bars but the nice thing is, when you’re working in a bar on a Saturday night or whenever, you’re part of the party already.”