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!
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 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.
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”.
Here are four typical South American mixed drinks:
1. Papa Andina Spirit cocktail
- Distillation from 8 kinds of Andean potatoes
- Muna muna (an aphrodisiac)
- Rica rica spice mix
- Ruda (common rue)
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.
- 100 ml Príncipe de los Apóstoles Gin
- 50 ml aperol
- 700 ml Humberto Canale Riesling from Patagonia
- 1 Pink grapefruit
- Peppermint leaves
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.
- Moretti corn distillate
- 15 ml Ancho Reyes
- 75 ml 3-grain chicha
- 35 ml corn distillate
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.
- 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
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!
Address of Tato’s Bar
Florería Atlántico Bar
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.