Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Bartender Diaries – Vincenzo Marianella

Do I sound like a crazed fan to refer to Vincenzo Marianella as the “cocktailian deity of Los Angeles?” Luckily, I would be in good company if I do. He has been named Best Bar Chef (2006) by Starchefs.com and L.A.’s Best Bartender (2006) by Anthony Dias Blue of The Tasting Panel Magazine.

A forerunner in the movement toward quality cocktails in Southern California, Marianella’s drinks are made with nothing less than juiced-before-your-eyes ingredients, nothing bottled or pre-mixed. Perfectly balanced sweet, and spirit, and tart, and bitter. My new favorite cocktail of his doesn’t even have a name, yet. It is made with marmalade, rum - some other stuff - and is garnised with a floating slice of jalapeno. It is soft yet spicy, with just enough kick to grab your attention.

With a desire for adventure and keen to see the world, Vincenzo left his native Italy for New York City, in 1999, and worked at 7 MOMA. However, it was during a trip to Australia that he found deeper inspiration within the wide world of high-end cocktails. While “down under,” he attended Sydney’s Australian Bartending Academy, and showcased his talents at exclusive events.

With his passion for Mixology ignited, Marianella collected and studied antique and modern cocktail books, and returned to his native Italy where he added the Dimensione Bar School in Cerviniano Del Friuli to his growing resume.

Armed with drink knowledge and bartending experience in Europe, America and Australia, Vincenzo felt ready to take on England, where he would hone his craft. Marianella tended bar at Smollensky’s, in the heart of London, and kept an eye on drinks presented in reputable cocktail establishments such as LAB, The Player, Match Bar and AKA.

While in London, Vincenzo also became acquainted with fellow Italian, Master Mixologist Salvatore Calabrese, who is considered one of the best bartenders in the world. Calabrese (then at Library Bar) became a sort of mentor to Marianella, who has brought some of those bartending secrets Stateside.

Upon return to Los Angeles, Marianella spent months searching for the right place to settle and practice the true art of Mixology. At the first informal interview with Donato Poto, owner of Providence, Vincenzo explained his philosophy toward fine bartending. During their second meeting, less than a week later, where they were joined by Michael Cimarusti (Co-Owner/Chef of Providence and former Head Chef at The Watergrill) the chemistry among the trio was electrifying, and Marianella joined the team.

Providence opened its doors in June, 2005. By the end of 2006, Vincenzo had been recognized and awarded in publications such as Los Angeles Magazine, L.A. Times, Variety Magazine and was invited to collaborate with Food and Wine Magazine for a "Cocktail Clinic."

(Portions of this piece are taken directly from the bio I wrote for Vincenzo’s website.)

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