Spotlight Series – MO BAR at Mandarin Oriental, Singapore
Quisine’s Spotlight Series takes an inside look at the food and beverage industry by speaking with the folks who know it best – restaurant owners, chefs and managers (and in this case, the bar staff). Join us as we get the inside scoop on MO BAR.
MO BAR is a hyper-stylish and sophisticated cocktail bar at Mandarin Oriental, Singapore. Offering an eclectic range of classic and contemporary cocktails, all of the long drinks at MO BAR are expertly curated and are put together with exceptional skill and care. Exhibit A:
MO BAR is also one of the most happening spots in the city, and as you sit back and admire the bar’s chic design and the stunning views of Marina Bay, it’s easy to see why. It’s not all drinks at MO BAR, as the venue also offers a nice range of light bites and a stunning Afternoon Tea which is served daily. (And come on, afternoon tea is always better with a cocktail in hand.)
We had the opportunity to speak to the man behind the bar at MO BAR and ask him a few questions. So without further ado, allow us to introduce you to Michele Mariotti, MO BAR’s bar manager.
Tell us about one of the funniest/most memorable experiences you have ever had.
I love nature and travelling, however I once found myself stuck on the side of a road with an empty gas tank in Patagonia in the middle of the night, 15km from the nearest city. After one hour, I saw a vehicle in the distance so I decided to get out of the car (it was -17℃) to wave for help. As I was waiting, I felt a presence behind me, and I immediately thought: “That’s it Michele, you are dead now”. As I turned to face my destiny, I realised that the ‘presence’ was in fact a llama staring at me, completely unmoved by the whole situation. I was never so scared in my life!
What inspired you to become a bar manager?
My first job, during my studies, was in a bar in a five-star hotel by the sea. My first bar manager there was a superbly charismatic person. He was incredibly funny, knew all the drinks, joked with everyone, and most of the hotel guests who came to the bar stayed only because of him. He was magnetic. The thing I liked the most was the direct contrast between his friendly, approachable and sometimes borderline crazy personality, and the stiff ‘old-school’ five-star mentality. Since then, I wanted to bring a more relaxed approach to how people perceived luxury.
What do you feel your bar adds to Singapore’s dining scene?
It adds an unconventional approach to luxury and hospitality. At MO BAR, we look at different ways to deliver luxury. We do not look for the most expensive ingredients; instead, we look for the most rare and difficult to find items. We offer a unique, approachable five-star experience. Of course, the bar still lives up to the Mandarin Oriental’s high standards when it comes to beautifully designed interiors and attentive service, but our main goal is to create an experience that everyone can relate to.
What is the biggest challenge you face as a bar manager?
The biggest challenge is to make sure that your staff believe in what you are trying to achieve. When your team believes in your goals, they will follow your lead and deliver on your vision, day in, day out. Luckily, I have a great team that supports me every day.
Where do you see the future of dining out or the bar scene in general?
I can see people reverting back to classic cocktails. I believe that consumers are becoming more and more educated, and as such, they are looking for comfort drinks, and classics that they can relate to. It is the same with restaurants. I think the more people look for something new, the more they actually go back to what they feel is their comfort zone. At MO BAR, we use classic cocktails as a starting point for our drinks, but we try to give them a contemporary twist, so people can enjoy the experience in a more complete manner.
Is there a drink on your menu that you’re most proud of, and is there a story behind it?
At The Berkeley in London, we created a unique cocktail experience called ‘Out Of The Blue’. It was a set menu experience, where we paired drinks with carefully curated content. The drinks were served in a room with four seats, where the guests could sip cocktails while we tweaked every detail around them – from the visuals (the room had 360° projectors), to the audio and even the temperature. It required a sensational amount of work, but the results were worth it.
What are your drinks trend predictions for the coming years?
As I said, I think classics will be coming back strong.
Who is your idol, what would you mix for him/her if you ever get the chance to do so, and why?
My idol is Erik Lorincz, former head bartender of the American Bar. Having had the chance to work with him for four years, I can definitively say that I admire what he stands for. He is the embodiment of what a gentleman is supposed to be, and he showed me that no matter what you choose to do in life, you can take it to the level of art. If I had the chance to serve him, I’d probably offer him a Martinez, the drink he made for me when we met.
You’re on death row and your time has nearly come. What’s your last drink going to be and why?
It would be a glass of 1989 Annamaria Clementi, a premium Italian sparkling wine. First produced in 1989 – the year I was born – it was the first bottle of sparkling wine I ever opened, but since I was only 16 at the time, I did not try it. As it is now incredibly hard to find, I think that the last drink I have should be the one I should have had first!
If you haven’t been, then you’re missing out. MO BAR is a night out you won’t soon forget, and if you have been there, tell us about it in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!