One of the first professionals of the finals of Glassology by Libbey contest, bar owner and bartender, the colorful spirit behind the Monkey Mash and The Red Frog in Lisbon, a creative business owner and an inspiring team leader.
What made you want to focus on the drinks industry, and who is the person that inspired you the most?
One of my first memories in the world of hospitality, was from when I was 4 years old and I joined my parents to visit a place that would become the restaurant that my parents still have to this day. When I turned 5 I started helping in the restaurant, taking out coffees and washing up. In the mid 90s, I had a period when I was playing music as a DJ, but as soon I started working in a hotel bar in Lisbon in 2001, I decided to dive into the bar industry.
My father is my inspiration!!! He is the one who taught me how to run a restaurant for over 42 years, he is not only the cook, but also the host. He makes a difference in the persistence and continuation of his usual clientele.
You are a co-owner of one of the most renowned bars in the world, The Red Frog, and its exotic brother, Monkey Mash. How does the pandemic affect you?
Monkey Mash’s first birthday was March 12th, 2020, we had a house full of friends, we didn’t know much about this virus, shortly after we had to close the joint. I had a feeling that it would be for a short period of time, but then I realized, the business would never be the same.
I took advantage of that time of confinement, to be able to do a lot of things I was missing, such as giving attention to my three daughters and my wife.
Then everything started to change, I had to deal with problems I didn’t think I would have… closing The Red Frog in March 2020, my other bar, Monkey Mash, had to adapt, opening only in September 2020, working as a restaurant instead of a bar. At this point the team had to think sensibly… but also have solidarity to those who helped us and supported us.
Which cocktail (you created) are you most proud of?
“American Gangster” and “Spiced Rusty Cherry”, created for a competition in 2014 inspired by a liqueur coming from Lisbon, “ginja [sour cherry]” and Port Wine, combining that with dark rum and cherry shrub.
What is your favorite glass shape to drink from? And why?
I really like short drinks, so any coupette or old fashioned are undoubtedly my favorites.
Why is the glass important for a drink?
The glass is super important, and when you work in a bar, all aspects are important. Bartenders look at the glass in the same way as sommeliers look at the glass in the world of wines, or cooks look at plates in the best fine dining restaurants around world. The bar world is very classic in terms of services, and I believe that a Manhattan or a Bamboo for example, can win aromatically if not served in a coupette.
What is your favorite Libbey glass? Do you go for sturdy or elegant?
I love the BESPOKE, AETHER and RAYO glass ranges! I always try to take the best of both worlds.
You were one of the first professionals getting to the finals of Glassology by Libbey Contest, and hosting a masterclass, during the semi-finals of Glassology. Can you tell us about this experience?
Participating in Glassology was super important in terms of understanding the language of the glass world, which crosses our daily lives, but which we never look at correctly. Most bartenders have no idea how a glass is made, from what type of ingredients and what are the different methods between the classic world of glass blowing and the industrial production.
It was amazing opportunity to be able to welcome the participants in the Red Frog and demonstrate the different types of the glasses and how we can take advantage of them, but at the same time be creative, even with classic or simpler family ranges. It was very cozy, together in one room full of friends from all over the world.
What do you think the next big trend in the drinks Industry will be?
Think more local and sustainable! (I know this is already a trend, but I still think we can do much better than this!)
What will be the one major change in Hospitality after the pandemic?
We will have to be more Human (I know this can be weird). This industry needs to change. We have to change the way we deal with our “big ego”. We may think that we are all very important, but at the end of the day, we all realize how fragile and superfluous we are. We don’t save lives, we serve drinks! We are undoubtedly an industry that creates, emotional well-being, joy, and fun, and all these are super important, especially now, but then we are all super exempt on the issue of alcoholism and dependence.
In the future, we will have to support the local communities much more and help them grow, creating added value, make companies become more honest and supportive of their professionals, keeping in mind the quality of life of the employees and helping them, training bar professionals and educating them. The pandemic came to show, that this industry is not fair and that there are many gaps in the training of teams and in keeping the honesty in the industry.
What can be an awesome invention that will emerge in the Hospitality from this crisis?
Serving drinks on delivery, but with a virtual hologram, where the bartender can interact with the customer. 😊
What can we expect from you from now in terms of projects, new challenges?
Continue working and fighting with the whole team so that the two bars continue to be successful, focusing on the new re-opening of the Red Frog making it a more cozy, personal and sensory space. Being a better father and continue to do what I have always done, help improve life of the people around and grow the Portuguese bar industry.
Which tips can you give to other bartenders and bar owners to prepare for the future?
Study a lot and surround yourself with people who help you being a better person. Don’t be afraid to fail.
To Bar Owners:
Be honest and happy and don’t strive to become rich on the expense of your team!
Most of our recruitments are young people with a lot of “bar thirst” and full of desire to show that they can succeed in this industry. My role is to show them that more important than the ego is being part of the team. During the first year behind the bar, they will learn our ideologies, our goals, and discover that it is more important to be hospitable than making cocktails. I will act as a colleague, bartender, bar owner, guide and teach them, work as one.