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Bartender knowledge from Alessandro Palazzi

Words by Rob Chilton

Head bartender at Dukes Hotel Dubai tells EDGAR what he’s learnt after 40 years behind the bar, from what to order, what to say and the importance of your appearance

How many martinis do you think you’ve made in your career?
I would say it’s close to a couple of million over the years.

Could you make one with your eyes closed?
No, I don’t think I could. Accuracy is important so I need to be able to see what I am doing.

Is it ok to eat the olives in a martini or should you leave them in the glass?
If it looks like a nice olive then 100 per cent give it a try.

The bar at Dukes Hotel Dubai

How important is the glass?
It’s very important because it is the symbol of elegance. Just like champagne should be served in a flute, a martini should be offered in a classic martini glass.

What do you enjoy about the ritual of making a martini?
I enjoy the whole experience, from the contact and rapport you build with each and every customer, to the unique experience you create for them.

The lobby at Dukes on The Palm

What do you like about meeting customers?
Working in a bar, everyone you meet is completely different, but I treat every customer the same. Whether they want to chat or not, it is up to them and we always respect that. Meeting customers is one of my favourite parts of the job.

How important is it for you to be smartly dressed at work?
Extremely important because staff dress code can instantly set the tone of the bar. As bartenders, we represent the establishment and we want to create a good impression.

The original Dukes Hotel in London

Do you have anything left to learn in your job?
So many people have taught me over the years, and I am still learning. The most important thing I have learnt is to be humble. I can still make mistakes and so we learn as we go every day.

You must have served many famous people. Any gossip?
What happens in the bar stays in the bar!

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