Balancing Act

Interview with Michele Montauti

April issue ‘Cocktails’, 2023 

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Waldorf Astoria Bangkok’s beverage manager Michele Montauti on creation, balance, simplicity, and the good old fashioned.

Originally from Pescara, Italy, Michele Montauti, for several years, has been a familiar face behind some of Bangkok’s most prestigious bars, including The Loft at Waldorf Astoria Bangkok. With over a decade of experience entertaining discerning drinkers, the seasoned bar manager shares with us some of his tips of the trade as well as his personal style when it comes to cocktails. 

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Please tell us about the process of coming up with a new cocktail or new cocktail menu.

For me, creating new cocktails is all about the feeling I have at the time or a theme I have in mind. For instance, I get a lot of ideas from fashion, such as colour palettes. Some of my inspirations also come from the F&B industry itself, such as the dishes I encounter on my travels. These all feed into how I balance the drinks.

Regarding the creation of a menu, I normally start from the concept and go from there, figuring out how to turn that concept into something cool and smooth. The menu also has to have a story that captures all the drinks in a logical manner.

How do you know you’ve created a good cocktail?

I know that I have created a good cocktail when I can taste each of the ingredients and none is overpowering the other. The drink has also got to be smooth, not up nor down on flavours. Balance is everything in cocktails, especially between the alcohol bases and the rest of the ingredients. A good cocktail is also something new which I’ve never tasted before that I can feel proud to present.

Is simplicity or complexity better in a cocktail?

For me, simplicity is almost always better.

What not to do when creating a cocktail?

Not trying new things and not asking questions. Feedback is fundamental to the craft.

When you go out for a drink somewhere, what are you looking for?

I’m looking for good vibes in the bar and friendly bartenders who aren’t all over the place and leave the guest enough space. For drinks, I’m actually very flexible and almost always go for my favourite, the old fashioned.

What should I order when I visit your bar?

An old fashioned or Negroni.

The Midas Touch.

In our new issue, we’re taking a deep dive into the tantalising world of cocktails, with none other than the legendary Philip Bischoff gracing our cover.
Discover the secrets behind his incredible ‘Midas touch’ and learn how to create delicious concoctions like a pro. But that’s not all – we’ve rounded up a diverse group of Bangkok’s finest bartenders to share their mixology wisdom and insider tips.

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