There is a great saying that, “True originality consists not in a new manner but in a new vision” and the Queens Hotel is existing proof to this statement. It’s now a well known fact that this grand building has been under new management since early 2017 and their vision couldn’t be clearer. To restore this ‘Residential Palace’ to its former glory, offer luxury and to present history with an outstandingly well balanced, gloriously elegant and modernised touch.
Whilst The Queens Hotel stands proudly in the heart of Southsea, its own heartbeat wouldn’t be as strong if it wasn’t for all the people behind it. From the staff members who take pride in providing great customer service, to our team of builders who achieve the best results to reinstate this beautiful hotel without losing its essence. Not forgetting the artists who participate in creating a visual perception. There is no doubt that with the guidance of management all the set targets are now in reaching distance.
One of these artists, ‘a bar phenomenon’, is an inspirational Italian living in Spain – Stefano Di Carlo. Here at the Queens Hotel Stefano has been a helping hand, a cocktail making role model and an idea developer for quite a while now. His enthusiasm and passion for what he does is exceptional.
The thirty-six year old, who has a Masters degree in electronic engineering, became obsessed with bartending at a very young age. And although working in this industry started of as a bill paying job whilst in university, he couldn’t help but wonder if one day he would have to make a life changing decision to leave his degree behind to do what he adored the most. He loved seeing people enjoying his determination and creativity at work, and even the simplest ‘Thank you’ from his customers would give him goose bumps.
At only twenty three he didn’t hesitate to accept the manager’s position at the place he was working at the time, where Stefano remembers being the youngest out of eighteen bartenders. He says that the moment of this much appreciated promotion was game changing. A few years later the boy, who once started as a porter in a restaurant at thirteen years of age, had opened his own Bartending Academy in Italy (which he still carries on today). With that being said it won’t come as a surprise, that his choice to travel to London to secure more experience in bar work overshadowed his just finished studies. Stefano mentions, when he returned back to Spain the idea was clear – to open up his own company. Stefano’s very quirky cocktail bar called LAB is ‘a must!’ when visiting Palma, Mallorca today.
Being open-minded, passionate, excited and always full of ideas doesn’t come that easy and Stefano says that travelling is his remedy. With his next trips to Thailand and Cambodia there will be plenty of time to spare in visiting different bars, restaurants, vibrant markets to replenish his vision for future business goals. “To come up with something new and for some innovation the best thing to do is to explore.”, he adds.
When asked if the UK has become as his ‘second home’ yet, Stefano laughs: “I have to say I hate the cold and I love the sun, but honestly, with everything that this country can give me and has already given me in the past, it is something that I can only achieve here. Like London I’d say there’s only New York and Hong Kong.” He also admits the hotel industry is a very new experience for him, but when there is a challenge and something new to learn, he is only a call away.
As previously mentioned, Stefano has been a huge help in improving our bars at the Queens Hotel. His passion for cocktails is irresistible! The Italian enthusiast believes that with mixology and importance of its knowledge being back on track, it is like being a ‘chef’ behind the bar. He also adds that globalization is the key to accessing different ingredients from all around the world, which is essential in creating new drinks, following the classics, but adding nice twists. Stefano educates, “Moreover, nowadays we’re implementing new techniques, playing with chemical products and reactions, with smoke,” he then stops to say,” A cocktail firstly will come through your eyes, then noise will capture your attention and only then it’ll touch the palate. At most times the olfactory (sense of smell) experience is more than 50% of the entire experience.”, then to follow up his unfinished thought he adds, “We also experiment with different containers, adapting new stuff to serve the drinks. And this is exciting, isn’t it?”
In-between managing his Bartending Academy, running his own company along with the bar and shop in Spain and working as a consultant in helping to upgrade bartending at the Queens Hotel, Stefano always makes time for his closest. On a special occasion where it’s important to share a good cocktail with someone, he chooses his favourite, a forgotten classic – Delicious Sour. When it comes to making his favourite it has to be an Old Fashioned, which is also served at Queens. Stefano says,” The reason behind it is definitely for its story and method. Really it’s like having a relationship with the drink while preparing it.”
And tonight, for one night only, at the Seasonal Songs at the Queens, our guests will have the privilege to meet this very talented, highly educated, enthusiastic businessman and passionate cocktail maker, and enjoy his creativity behind the bar.
“When making the perfect cocktail, always, keep the balance, temperature, dilution under control. And don’t forget to smile!”
Stefano Di Carlo
19th December 2018