Introducing Rudi Carraro, Global Brand Ambassador for two of Italy’s most beloved heritage brands, Amaro Montenegro and SELECT Aperitivo. Based in London, we were lucky enough to meet Rudi on his recent visit to Australia last month, to share his inspiration and the stories behind these two unique bitters.
How did you get in to the industry?
I began my career in a small pub in the countryside of Padua, my hometown in Italy, where I developed a passion for the industry. This eventually saw me travel throughout Europe before arriving in London in 2011.
I started my London residency in an Italian restaurant in Notting Hill, where I finetuned my skills to fit with the cocktail capital’s style and within a year joined internationally acclaimed Artesian at The Langham Hotel, London as a Senior Bartender. Here, I united with the team that was awarded The World’s Best Bar by the esteemed Worlds 50 Best Bars academy for four consecutive years, mentored by industry icons, Alex Kratena and Simone Caporale.
After leaving Artesian, I designed the bar program for Frenchie in Covent Garden where I discovered and experimented with new flavours and ingredients to refine and develop a distinctive personal style and attention to detail – cementing my passion for the hospitality business.
How has your background influenced your role as a Brand Ambassador?
I joined the industry as a creative cocktail bartender and use the skills I learned in the on-trade everyday in my role as Brand Ambassador for Gruppo Montenegro. From developing signature serves in partnership with our Master Herbalist, Matteo Bonoli, to training and educating other bartenders, my knowledge and passion for the industry is an invaluable tool.
In recent years I have worked extensively on a program of guest bartending events and seminars spanning from Europe to Latin America, focusing on new techniques, innovation in the industry and developing trends. Now, in my new role as Global Brand Ambassador, I develop the training programs used around the world, managing the brand ambassador team and devising new ideas, concepts and activations for renowned festivals and bar shows such as Tales of the Cocktail.
Tell us about the history of Amaro Montenegro and SELECT?
Created in 1885 Amaro Montenegro is a blend of 40 hand-selected botanicals inspired by the travels of herbalist Stanislao Cobianchi who fled his native Bologna to avoid becoming a priest. Named as a tribute to the second Queen of Italy, Elena of Montenegro, Amaro Montenegro’s unchanged, unmistakable and unique flavour has developed a prestigious reputation around the world. Embracing Human Spirit, Amaro Montenegro aspires to bring people together for the most meaningful things in life, conviviality, friendship and flavour.
The story of SELECT Aperitivo began in 1919 when brothers Mario and Vittorio Pilla, eager to contribute to the rejuvenation of post-war Venice, founded Fratelli Pilla & C. Just one year later in 1920, they perfected the recipe for their debut aperitivo, SELECT. With their highly regarded position within Venetian aristocracy, the Pilla brothers’ aperitivo soon had its own prestigious reputation. Almost a century has passed since it all began and SELECT is still regarded as one of the most celebrated products to come out of Venice and an irreplaceable ingredient in the classic and original Venetian Spritz. Created from 30 botanicals sourced from around the world, including juniper berries and rhubarb roots, balancing floral and bitter notes; until now, SELECT Aperitivo has been considered something of a hidden gem, an Italian secret; now available across the world, SELECT is here to bring the sophistication of Venice and the elegance of aperitivo hour to life.
What inspires you about Amaro Montenegro and SELECT?
As an Italian, I am incredibly proud to represent two historic brands and use the skills, knowledge and creativity I have developed during my years in the industry to help drive the next part of Gruppo Montenegro’s story. It is my mission to educate and inspire the on-trade and consumers on the beautifully complex and balanced flavour of Amaro Montenegro and continue to push the boundaries of the category.
With the trend for low ABV cocktails going nowhere and consumers globally continuing to explore the bitter flavour profile, it is an exciting time to be working with such prestigious and beautifully created brands. It has been great to see the rest of the world embrace the Italian aperitivo occasion and drive education and awareness around the category.
What exciting news do the brands have coming up?
We will be hosting the final of our Vero Bartender competition with a huge event in Italy and residency takeover, with the winner receiving an all expenses paid trip to Bar Convent Brooklyn 2020. This is the third year of the competition so its back and bigger than ever before. Our Venetian aperitivo, SELECT, will also be celebrating its centenary next year so watch this space!
Finally, tell us the best way to enjoy Amaro Montenegro and SELECT?
Two of the most classic Italian serves of course! A classic Venetian spritz, garnished with an olive, and a twist on the classic Negroni cocktail – the Montenegroni.
Soft and silky mouth feel that strikes a satisfying balance between sweet and bitter notes. Its well balanced sweetness merges with the other ingredients, fading in a pleasantly bitter finish.
Very intense, rich, with mainly bitter notes. Spiced and tropical aromas that combine with the citrus notes. Pleasantly persistent aftertaste with fresh, lively notes derived from the essential citrus oils. Best enjoyed as the original Venetian Spritz.
Amaro Montenegro and SELECT Aperitivo are available through Alepat Taylor and Combined Wines.