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Big-name barman from Buenos Aires mixes it up in Zurich

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The name is Tato Giovannoni and he is guest barman at the Gustofestival, most recently held in Zurich. Together with the “10 Manos”, five Argentinian star chefs cooking up a storm for the festival, he used that occasion to provide the Festival guests insights into Argentina’s cuisine… and its cocktails…

In Buenos Aires, barman Renato “Tato” Giovannoni is a star. He owns and operates the legendary Bar Florería Atlántico: as the name hints, his drink emporium does double duty in the daytime as a florist’s shop. In the evening, it blossoms into a stellar bar!

But not just any bar – in fact, it’s the only one in South America that is currently in the cocktail connoisseur’s bible, “Drinks International – Best 50 Bars in the World”. Not one year, not two, not three… four years running!

The logo of Tato Giovannoni's Floreria Atlantico bar

The logo of Tato Giovannoni’s Floreria Atlantico bar

Located in the Retiro district of Buenos Aires near the central train station and not far from the upscale Recoleta quarter and the Puerto Madero entertainment district is where you will find this rather nondescript but luxuriant “flower shop”. But, just wait until you see the basement…

Tato Giovannoni at Zurich’s Rive Gauche

But back to Zurich. We caught up with Giovannoni at the Gustofestival “10 Manos” where he was hosting the bar at the Rive Gauche Restaurant in the Baur au Lac Hotel. Here he had laid out all the ingredients and utensils he had brought with him especially for the occasion.

Tato Giovannoni behind the Rive Gauche Bar

Tato Giovannoni behind the Rive Gauche Bar

Tato Giovannoni behind the Rive Gauche Bar

Tato Giovannoni behind the Rive Gauche Bar

All set to mix things up at the Rive Gauche Bar

All set to mix things up at the Rive Gauche Bar

Tato Giovannoni in his element

Tato Giovannoni in his element

Tato mixology and mate gin

Tato cheerfully gave us an overview of Argentine drinks. When it comes to taste, they differ greatly from the classic mixed drinks we all know. He will use exotic ingredients like yerba mate, for example, better known as the herb that Argentina’s national drink of the same name is infused from. And, to top it all, he uses his own brand of gin.

Giovannonis’s dream had always been to have his own distillation. He found what he was looking for in a small grappa maker near Mendoza that was perfectly suited for producing, after many attempts and much tinkering, his Príncipe de los Apóstoles Mate Gin.

As the name proclaims, Apóstoles Gin is made from yerba mate with eucalyptus, peppermint, grapefruit and coriander added in. That gives it a tropical, New World cast that sets it worlds apart from the classic London Dry.

Mate Gin Principe de los Apóstoles by Tato Giovannoni

Mate Gin Principe de los Apóstoles by Tato Giovannoni

The gin and tonic that got away…

What with all the photographing and listening, I was totally absorbed in the scene. Hence, I did not drink much. So, after it was all over, I wound up kicking myself in the butt for not having asked Tato to make me a gin and tonic, my favorite drink…

Because the master mixes it with 60 ml of his own Mate Gin, 200 ml premium tonic and 20 ml Cynar with a twig of eucalyptus.

Oh, well, let it be. Here are the drinks that Tato actually mixed.

Cocktails by Tato Giovannoni

Our famous contemporary also has a fat book out full of cocktail recipes and all kinds of interesting background on the “Coctelería Argentina”.

Book on Tato Giovannoni

Book on Tato Giovannoni

Here are four typical South American mixed drinks:

1. Papa Andina Spirit cocktail

Ingredients:

  • Distillation from 8 kinds of Andean potatoes
  • Muna muna (an aphrodisiac)
  • Rica rica spice mix
  • Ruda (common rue)
Papa Andina Spirit

Papa Andina Spirit

2. Clericot No. 872 cocktail

Clericot is a kind of punch but without added sugar. Per Tato, it marks the low point of Argentinia’s drink culture from the mid-1980s. But, when prepared by Tato with a decent Riesling, he turns it into very much of an up-to-date drink.

Ingredients:

  • 100 ml Príncipe de los Apóstoles Gin
  • 50 ml aperol
  • 700 ml Humberto Canale Riesling from Patagonia
  • 1 Pink grapefruit
  • Peppermint leaves
Clericot No. 872 cocktail, a thoroughly modern punch.

Clericot No. 872 cocktail, a thoroughly modern punch

Humberto Canale Riesling from Patagonia

Humberto Canale Riesling from Patagonia

3. Ekeko cocktail

Ekeko is the name of the pre-Columbian god of abundance, well-being, and good fortune.

Not bad; I’ll be sure to remember him!

Tato once again uses lots of ice when he mixes this lucky cocktail, but this time decorated with herbs from northern Argentina. You drink it with a mate “bombilla”, the classic mate straw with its characteristic built-in sieve.

Ingredients:

  • Moretti corn distillate
  • 15 ml Ancho Reyes
  • 75 ml 3-grain chicha
  • Tobacco
  • Arka
  • 35 ml corn distillate
Ekeko cocktail with herbs

Ekeko cocktail with herbs

Moretti Moonshine 50 corn schnapps

Moretti Moonshine 50 corn schnapps

Mate bombillos with sieve ends

Mate bombillas with sieve ends

4. Pachamama cocktail

Pachamama is a fertility goddess worshipped by Andean people. She rules over seed sowing and harvesting. Oh, and earthquakes, too!

Tato serves the eponymous cocktail in ice with cactus, decorated with flowers from his own flower shop.

Ingredients:

  • Vodka from distilled potatoes
  • Red quinoa
  • Pink pepper
  • Grated carob tree fruit
  • 50 ml honey from the cactus fig
  • Andina potatoe schnapps
  • 125 ml Pachamama water
Pachamama cocktail in cactus, the Tato Giovannoni way

Pachamama cocktail in cactus, the Tato Giovannoni way

Our great thanks go to…

…Boris Walker and Stephanie Steinmann of the Gustofestival for inviting us! And a hearty thank you of course also to Tato for the eye-opening insights into a different cocktail culture ;-)

Now I know where I’ll be ordering my gin and tonic the next time I’m in Buenos Aires!

Tato Giovannoni at the Rive Gauche Zurich

Tato Giovannoni at the Rive Gauche Zurich

Tato Giovannoni signing his book

Tato signing his book

Tato Giovannoni's book on coctelería Argentina

Tato Giovannoni’s book on coctelería Argentina

Tato Giovannoni and Walter enjoying themselves at Rive Gauche Bar

Tato and Walter posing at Rive Gauche Bar

Address of Tato’s Bar

Florería Atlántico Bar
Arroyo 872
Buenos Aires
Argentinia

Tato Giovannoni is owner and barman at Florería Atlántico, Buenos Aires. His bar is ranked 23rd among The 50 Best Bars 2017, which makes it the Best Bar in Latin America 2017.

To the bar website

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About Author

Walter Schaerer’s extensive background in the travel industry, passionate enthusiasm for photography and a firm belief that luxury destinations can also be affordable; were some of the main factors that motivated him to create the travel blog travelmemo.com. In his day job Walter is an online marketing manager based out of Zurich, Switzerland.

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