Behind the bar with Grazia di Franco of Bartolo

Mixologist Grazia di Franco has global experience ranging from Milan to Miami. Now based at Sydney's Bartolo, we ask Grazia her thoughts on her craft.

It is a very exciting time at Bartolo, with both the concepts and execution of the cocktails of an exceptional standard. Can you tell us what it means to you being involved at the forefront of that?

First of all, thank you very much. Bartolo represents a small part of myself, it has been a very important project from the start, and it remains the place where all my imagination can coexist with the passion I have for this job.


Can you tell us about your background?

I am half Italian and half Swedish; I grew up in Sicily, where I started my career in the hospitality world. I’ve always been a very curious person with a true love for travelling. I’ve lived and worked in many different places, including different parts of Italy, then in Amsterdam for a period in one of the world’s 50 best bars, Miami, and now I have been in Australia for three years, and work at Bartolo and as the Asia Pacific Ambassador for Mancino Vermouth and Rinomato Aperitivo.


What would you make one of readers if they walked up to the bar and placed their trust in your recommendation?

I believe that our taste is very personal; I love when people completely trust me, but I also love to be able to completely satisfy their desire. Therefore, I am inclined to always ask them questions. I don’t stereotype people vs flavours and I don’t like to “guess” that just because you’re an elegant middle-aged man, you probably want to drink a short, strong and flavourful drink; maybe that day you just wanted to have a long, refreshing herbal drink, who knows? My recommendation is always what best will suit your palate, not mine.


What ingredients for your cocktails are you particularly enjoying working with at the moment?

At the moment I am incredibly lucky to live in Australia and I am really enjoying working with many native botanicals. This part of the world has some of the most interesting and unique natural flavours I’ve ever experienced! 


What is your all-time favourite classic, and what twist would you add that would maintain its integrity, whilst introducing your take on it?

Another tricky question … my favourite classic really changes as my mood does. Right now, I am all about drinking a martini, so I can easily tell you that my favourite spec for it is 50/50 gin and dry vermouth, with a generous dash of Malvasia wine (this is very close to the one we serve at Barolo), and don’t forget the caper berry – being Sicilian, I couldn’t choose anything different!