Tony Pescatori talks to Hamish Smith about his Nightjar journey and his fresh start at the newly opened Alma.
How does it feel to have left Nightjar after so many years and what do you feel like you achieved there?
I've loved growing a place like Nightjar, where we were able to build an insanely skilled team of humble and hardworking people. I gained the skills that took me to travel to more than 30 countries over the years to train bar teams and showcase my true dedication to the craft. After years in the fast lane, I decided to dedicate some time to my physical and mental health, after a long period of depression.
It was the right moment to dedicate more time to something new, we built a content studio and several overseas consultancies and takeovers. I also try to organise charity cocktail events with non-profit associations as often as I can.
So tell us about Alma and how the opportunity came about?
My goal was to move to Dubai but when the opportunity came, I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to stay in London with the people I'm closest to. Its great to be able to build something in a competitive city such London, where every few steps you can walk into a very good bar, so in order to stand out from the crowd, your offer must be high quality.
You're known for your style of unusual ingredients and exotic presentations, how will you bring this to Alma?
Our core values in Alma are elegance, emotions and vibe. We all go to bars to relax and have a great time. The last few years I’ve been learning to take much more into consideration - the impact of that atmosphere, eye contact and emotional intelligence all have on the perception of pleasure, and that’s really important in our business. Whether that's coming from visual emotional cues in the form of decor and glassware (we have a chubby cat glass for our cocktail ‘Clay’, which might make you feel a certain way!) or flavour combinations that awaken memories. The attitude of the team and the vibe that a live band brings to a room is all part of the Alma experience.
How do you intend to bring the concept of the restaurant Sucre above into your drinks?
‘Alma’, meaning soul in Spanish is a subtle nod to Argentina. Some of the produce we use owes itself to Argentinian origins and the choice of bar snacks are prepared by Fernando Trocca's legendary kitchen team, yet we aim to keep the spirit of Alma's and the cocktail selection open to seasonal changes and continuous evolution. We’re paying homage to flavours from different cultures and indigenous, lesser-known art forms. We have a serious approach to drinks and details but won't take ourselves too seriously, creating an inclusive and informal environment where team and guests are united by a common theme: sharing good vibes and making memories!