by Marco Gemelli
Within five years he introduced the phenomenon of “cocktail weeks” in our country and led Florence to compete with the other world capitals of mixology, that is the art of mixed drinking. Still, few would say that until a few years ago Paola Mencarelli, Sienese of origin but citizen of the world and today recognized as one of the best connoisseurs of the world of the bar, was teetotal. With a master’s degree in Communication and gastronomic criticism from Gambero Rosso in her pocket, but until then without any specific experience in the sector except for the world of the bar in general, Paola approaches the world of cocktails for the first time in 2015, driven by ‘friend Lorenzo Nigro (who will later be his partner for several years), in a period in which the protagonists of global mixology were sought only behind the counters of London, New York, Singapore and Paris: “I started drinking only out of thirst for knowledge”, she explains, “but my great passion was cooking, of which I was fascinated by every aspect. The world of mixing has been perfectly integrated into this trend: after all, citing a terminology now in common use, it is a question of liquid cooking.
The world behind it, the taste research, the niche Italian liqueur tradition are in line with the food and wine tradition of our country. It is we Italians who sometimes underestimate ourselves, but our bartenders, our recipes and our products are among the most loved and known in the world “. And so, trying to put together historic cafes, street bars and 5-star hotel bars – an operation that is anything but obvious, in the land of a thousand bell towers – in 2015 Paola Mencarelli and Lorenzo Nigro gave life to the first “Florence cocktail week” Italian: “I wanted to do something that remained, starting a rebirth of the city and of Italy in the world of mixing that could remain in history”. Realizing the social, cultural and economic potential of events of this kind in Italy was only the first step: “Growth was very fast”, says Paola, “and already in the second year we involved international guests and organized events dedicated to both professionals and enthusiasts. With Florence we are now the national reference point, and we already have international recognition in our sights ”.
Not surprisingly, in addition to the 6th Florentine cocktail week scheduled for September, this year in December the first edition of the festival will debut in Venice.