Andrea Gualdi doesn’t just love prosecco – he owes his position as head bartender at Sydney’s Maybe Frank to the sparkly aperitif. More specifically, to the way he likes to serve prosecco, and to a particular glass of prosecco he served to a particular customer at a particular moment.
It was 2016, and Gualdi was doing a fill-in shift at This Must Be the Place in Darlinghurst when Stefano Catino walked in.
“He asked me for a prosecco. I poured it in a wine glass because I hate flutes,” recalls Gualdi. “He was like, ‘Oh, I always do the same, I don't like flutes either.’ Then he said, ‘Hey, I’m opening a bar and I’m looking for someone to look after it. Do you want to join?’”
“Everybody likes pizza,” says Gualdi. “It’s a very easy food to go for. The cocktails we pair with the pizza aren’t super boozy; we keep it fresh… for the pizzas that are rich, prosecco is a beautiful palate cleanser.”
Like prosecco itself, Gualdi is from the north of Italy. He grew up in Bergamo, a small town near Milan in the province of Lombardy – right next door to Veneto, where the prosecco varietal originates.
The below cocktails utilise authentic Italian prosecco – in this case, Porta Dante, which comes from Veneto. Its flavour profile conjures images of summer days – apple, juicy pear and apricot, with a persistent creamy fizz. It’s used to recreate three of Gualdi’s favourites: the Bellini 2.0, Grappa Punch and Learn From Your Sbagliato.
“The Bellini 2.0 is very fresh and fruity, even though there is no fresh fruit inside,” he says. “It contains peach liqueur; the prosecco really lifts up the flavours and opens up the peach.”
The Grappa Punch is on the drinks menu at Maybe Frank. “A pisco punch is one of my favourite cocktails; this one has a twist, with the use of a very Italian ingredient, grappa,” says Gualdi. “We don’t normally drink grappa in a cocktail, as it’s quite boozy; in Italy, we usually drink it after dinner. It gives the cocktail a nutty flavor – I really like that.”
And Learn From Your Sbagliato? “This is very similar to a super iconic Italian cocktail – a Negroni. In fact, it was created in Milan when a bartender accidentally poured prosecco into a Negroni instead of gin. It’s simple – you make it straight in the glass – and it reminds me of home.”
It also puts him in mind of a memorable mistake of his own. “I was working one of my first-ever shifts behind the bar in London. I made a Mojito and forgot to put the lime in,” says the bartender, who won the International Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year Awards in 2017.
“My manager asked me if I’d tasted the drink – I faked it and said I had. I hadn’t, and it tasted awful. For a month I was forced to drink a shot of lime juice before every shift. Now, I taste everything.”
Makes 1 serve. Approx. 1 standard drink.
30ml Oscar 697 Bianco Vermouth
15ml peach liqueur
20ml fresh lemon juice
15ml egg white
Porta Dante Prosecco
Combine all ingredients in a shaker (a dry shake of the egg white to maximise the egg white’s creaminess is optional).
Shake and strain into a champagne coupette then top it up with Porta Dante Prosecco.
Garnish with an edible flower. Andrea’s favourite is orange blossom, but any will do. At Maybe Frank, they use a lot of violets.
Makes 1 serve. Approx. 2 standard drinks.
40ml grappa nardini
30ml pineapple juice
25ml fresh lemon juice
10ml sugar syrup
1 cinnamon stick
Porta Dante Prosecco
Combine all ingredient in a shaker, shake hard and double strain into a flute.
Top up with Porta Dante Prosecco and garnish with three dashes of Angostura bitters.
Learn From Your Sbagliato
Makes 1 serve. Approx. 1.1 standard drinks.
35ml Oscar 697 Rosso Vermouth
40ml Porta Dante Prosecco
Combine all ingredients in a wine glass, add ice and garnish with a pink grapefruit slice.
This article was produced in partnership with Porta Dante Prosecco.