At its very best, a cocktail can be the capsule of memory, its individual combination of flavours drawing you back to the thrill and excitement of a night spent in a new city, to that trendy spot with the buzzing atmosphere and a great mixologist. In the hands of the best mixologists, the right cocktail can feel as if it’s made uniquely for you – and sometimes, it even is.
The Rooftop, the electrifying all-in-one space of Barcelona's opulent Sir Victor Hotel – including a sundeck, restaurant, DJ and bar – is where to find Andrea Garcia, the expert mixologist whose delectable cocktail creations and animated charm impart every guest with precisely such memories, of liveliness, sanctuary and indulgence. Finding her way back to Barcelona after years in Malta spent honing her craft, Andrea’s intuitive and masterful skills are now one of The Rooftop’s beating hearts, an effortless union of exceptional hospitality with inventive talent behind the bar: a foolproof recipe for unforgettable moments atop the magnificent Spanish city.
We’re curious about your journey into mixology – how did you first get into the craft and go on to develop your signature style?
In 2014 I had the opportunity to do a company’s internship in Malta as an Architect Assistant. After that, they offered me a one-year contract and I decided to stay. All my friends were leaving back to Spain and I had to make new friends in one way or another so I started working during the weekends as bartender and promoter.
I worked in different events and clubs and started to be more interested in cocktails and mixology so I wanted to step it up and in 2016 I went to Barcelona to do a professional bartending course at the European Bartender School. Once I finished, I went back to Malta and worked in different places, which still influence part of my personal style.
What’s your all-time favourite cocktail?
As I am a superfan of coffee, I will have to say, Espresso Martini. I truly recommend it for all the coffee lovers out there. Also, there’s always a good time for a good Margarita, isn’t there? But be careful if you’re thinking of drinking more than two – we’re not responsible for the day after!
What are the essentials when it comes to making a good cocktail?
Having the feeling and desire of trying new things, mixing them and creating experiences behind them. Thinking about what flavours can match as you do it with food and trying them together. Also, the measurements are important to find the perfect balance and appreciate every ingredient. One of the secrets is to always try what you’re making and listen to yourself if any of the ingredients have to be modified or removed.
What is the most unusual drink request you’ve ever received?
Countless drinks that can be ordered, also different trends from every country. But the one that shocked me the most so far, was the time someone ordered a drink of Kahlúa (coffee liquor) with Coca-Cola. The first time I ignored it completely, but when another customer ordered the same a second time I got curious. First of all I have to say, tastes are different, of course, but my personal taste as a mixologist tells me that this is an unpleasant combination.
Tell us about the best conversation you’ve overheard or the most memorable moment that has taken place at your bar.
One of the most memorable moments here at The Rooftop was during a party on a Sunday evening. When it starts to rain here, it is a mess because we only have one small covered area, and that day as you can imagine it happened. The vibe created was so nice and when it started to rain the customers didn’t want to leave, so they asked the DJ to continue playing. We didn’t stop serving drinks, even when the rain was getting inside the bar. Unfortunately at one point the electricity went down because of the rain so we had to stop completely. You can imagine the mess, but it was a fun episode.
Where does your process begin when creating a new recipe?
It always depends. Sometimes you want to try with one flavour or ingredient, sometimes you start with one spirit in particular. Here is where your creativity has to come out and you start researching about it. Seasonal flavours are always a point to have in mind and never forget the classics, they’re always a good start as reference.
We’re sure we can learn a thing or two from your people skills – give us your tricks for calming down a rowdy customer.
Well, we all have been with this kind of customer as a mixologist. The tricks are the same as you would use in every similar situation on a daily basis. Give the customer the chance to explain what happened and why he or she is dissatisfied. If you start to get nervous you will relay that feeling on to the customer and we don’t want that. Always keep a calm behaviour and try to solve the problem with the client in the best way possible.
Working within an industry very male-dominated until recently, what has been your experience as a woman behind the bar? What makes mixology a great profession for women?
I’ve never experienced a difference between me and my colleagues. It was very male- dominated but just like I think other professions used to be, and it’s being changed. Mixology is a profession for women as great as it is for men if you’re creative, interested in it, willing to create experiences and connect with your clients.
How has your philosophy or personal style evolved through the years? How do you think the craft as a whole has evolved?
The main spirit of my philosophy as a mixologist is to always work hard, give the best of myself, and looking to reach the next level. It didn’t change much through the years. The craft as a whole has evolved from going out just for a drink to going out looking for a new and different experience, as mentioned before. It is becoming more and more like haute cuisine but liquid.
Which trend in mixology are you really excited about at the moment and which are you desperately waiting to disappear?
People lately are caring more about their health and they’re looking for a healthier lifestyle, so they are more meticulous when choosing what they want to have. It is an interesting trend that I think we have to keep in mind as much as we can. For example, trying to reduce classic white sugar syrup and finding other natural edulcorantes to replace it. On the other side, I’m not desperately waiting for any special trend to disappear. It’s simple, as you’re free to follow every trend you want.
We all have that one drink we’d never touch again after a night of one too many (and the miserable morning after) – what’s yours?
All those poisonous shots I used to drink when I was younger, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to drink them anymore if I want to continue to live. Throughout the years, I’ve learnt what I like and what I don’t, and for sure, those are not on my list anymore.
What are the top 5 spots in Barcelona you’d recommend to your best friend when he or she’s in town?
No doubt, The Rooftop has to be one of your musts to enjoy a delicious cocktail with an amazing view of La Casa Mila, La Sagrada Familia or La Casa de les Punxes. La Sagrada Familia cannot be kept off this list. Completely worth it to see it from the outside and also tour the inside. Also a walk along Paseo de Gracia, Las Ramblas or the Gothic Quarter…If you discover how to get in, you must go to the speakeasy concept bar Paradiso for another great time with cocktails. To finish the list with a restaurant I would recommend Salvaje for the whole dinner experience.
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