Paradiso Barcelona Is The World’s Best Bar And Giacomo Giannotti’s Paradiso Express Just Pulled Into Saigon

Paradiso Barcelona

“I go with the classics: chocolate, hazelnut, and pistachio,” Giacomo Giannotti tells us about his favorite ice cream flavors. He grew up around his family’s ice cream business in Tuscany. And, in honor, he gave his Barcelona bar the same name – Paradiso.

Đọc bài viết bằng Tiếng Việt

On October 4th this year, Giacomo Giannotti’s Paradiso was named the best bar in the world. “It has been a little bit crazy,” Giacomo admits about the accolade – the first time it’s been given to a bar outside of London and New York in its history. 

“But in 2021 we’d ascended to #3 in the list, and so we were already doing a lot of events and we were traveling a lot. So, this is kind of the same, only taken to a slightly higher level of intensity,” he nods. Even before that, in 2014, Giacomo Giannotti won Spain’s prestigious Diageo World Class event, thanks, partly, to his Mediterranean Treasure cocktail.

Giacomo Giannotti and Daniele Pocchiari
Paradiso Barcelona’s Giacomo Giannotti and Daniele Pocchiari.

Enter Through The Refrigerator 

At his Paradiso, he serves ice cream too. Only Giacomo Giannotti’s Paradiso Gelato is made with a mix of macerated vodka and turmeric, goat milk kefir, sherry wine and sage syrup, peach, grapefruit and walnut bitter. It’s topped with a merengue made of kefir and liquid nitrogen. And it’s served in an ice cream cone-shaped cup. 

It’s typical of the playful drinks they serve at Paradiso Barcelona, with its dimmed lighting and laid-back music. “We definitely have some theme songs,” Giacomo Giannotti smiles, “tracks like Sergio Mendes’ ‘Magalena’ — that’s the vibe in the bar.”

In front of the bar is a pastrami shop. And you enter through the shop’s refrigerator. “Try the pastrami sandwich, or the pastrami board,” Giacomo Giannotti recommends, in case you don’t get a chance to go inside to the bar. There’s three seats, and a terrace to enjoy either in what, to the uninitiated, looks like a standard pasticceria – or bakery shop – in Barcelona’s El Born district, a part of the city that used to be a village for dockworkers and fishermen, and is now a hip, artsy enclave of Barcelona. “Something like Shoreditch in London,” Giacomo, who spent four years in the city, honing his skills at Eclipse Cocktail Bar and Be At One, says by way of explanation.

The Paradiso terrace was especially useful during the pandemic. “We opened and closed, opened and closed a few times. But by the third wave we’d grown tired of it and opened the terrace outside. And from that point we just kept going…” And then, as the pandemic abated, “it was an explosion, people were crazy to go out again.”

Giacomo Giannotti at Park Hyatt Saigon
“For me, I like to be at Paradiso, and with the team.” – Giacomo Giannotti

The Paradiso Express Pulls In

He keeps the trips, like this one to Park Hyatt Saigon on behalf of Diageo, accompanied by Paradiso’s Daniele Pocchiari, to a manageable number, despite the clamor caused by the world’s best bar recognition. He’ll spend a week or ten days maximum a month on the road, Giacomo Giannotti tells us. “For me, I like to be at Paradiso,” he adds, “and with the team.” 

When Giacomo and the team do travel, sometimes it’s with an entire refrigerator. Their Super Cool Martini made waves in the mixology world when it was added to the Paradiso menu. To make it they use a special refrigerator, a Fujisakura, that’s usually used to freeze Bluefin tuna. In Giacomo’s hands, the fridge super-cools liquids and keeps that at below freezing temperature, and when the liquid touches something solid – like an olive – it solidifies creating an impromptu ice sculpture. “

Paradiso Express
Giacomo Giannotti preparing his Paradiso Express, with Rum Zacapa 23, Ketel One vodka, Pedro Ximénez, coffee, banana, and sesame.

“Right! We took the Super Cool Martini on tour,” Giacomo laughs at the memory. That meant traveling with the refrigerator, “to Washington DC, Singapore, London and Athens…just to do that cocktail.”

On the road, they keep the presentation simple. “When we serve our Super Cool Martini, it still looks like a classic Martini,” Giacomo adds. Here, during their guest shifts at Park Hyatt Saigon, they served four drinks including that World Class-winning Mediterranean Treasure, and their Tesla. “That’s probably my most satisfying product from the lab so far,” Giacomo says about the team’s work at the Paradiso Lab, his not-open-to-the-public research center for creativity and development that opened in 2020. The Tesla, inspired by electricity, is created using two types of gas which cause the colors to change in the guests’ hand.

And they also made their Paradiso Express, a cocktail inspired by the industrial revolution, served in a 3D-printed toy train. “Oh, and the train is made from corn,” Giacomo adds about Paradiso’s commitment to sustainability that’s so ingrained in their process, they barely highlight it.

Paradiso Express toy train
The Paradiso Express is served in a 3D-printed toy train.

Back To Their Roots

For a bar menu built on restless, relentless innovation, we wonder if there’s a finite amount of things that can be done with a cocktail. “No, I think there’s no limit,” Giacomo Giannotti replies thoughtfully. “Because the next step might be to take things back to their roots, and through research to find something new. All innovations don’t necessarily need to be technical innovations.” 

Paradiso Barcelona's Giacomo Giannotti
“I think there’s no limit,” Giacomo Gianotti says about creativity and cocktails.

It’s a bit like the name Paradiso, the title he gave to his sinuous wooden bar with its Gaudi-esque curves that opened in 2015 behind the pastrami shop. Since then, the menu, which changes annually, has taken on grand themes like the evolution of humanity, and magic and space. But the name goes right back to his roots and the ice cream parlor he grew up in. 

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