From its gilded past to its glistening interiors, and of course its largest selection of bubbly in Miami, Le Sirenuse Champagne Bar at Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club is a scene all its own for locals and guests. So, Jacopo Rosito focuses on “the little details.”
“The key for me is the hospitality we provide,” says Rosito of his role as Bar Manager, which he assumed in early 2018. “If you’re at a great bar, an amazing cocktail is just one element of it. At the end of the day, it’s the way a bar makes you feel special that you’ll remember.”
In keeping with the culture of Four Seasons, Rosito see superb service as the heart and soul of the hospitality his team provides. Take, for instance, the simple act of taking a drink order. Rather than ask what a guest desires, servers at the Champagne Bar ask what they prefer, the better guide them through selections.
“Our cocktail list is focused on the classics, but it’s our own takes on the classics,” he explains, noting that talent in front of and behind the bar receive daily training and tastings, with chefs from the kitchen often visiting to explain how various spirits and ingredients work with items on the Bar’s newly expanded food menu.
“The first question I tell our servers to ask is, ‘What do you usually like to drink?’ With that, they get to know the customer and their flavour profile. Then they can lead them to something that suits their taste and pairs well with their order – or to something new.”
For Rosito and his staff, the work of creating cocktails never ends. Nor do the inspirations. “Oh, I can find inspiration in anything,” he says with a laugh, mentioning waves on the ocean, the sight of swaying palms, and the names of dishes on the menu. “We’re creating new cocktails pretty much everyday.”
Meanwhile, Rosito’s team works closely with the culinary talent, often using kitchen tools and techniques to enhance flavours and textures of individual ingredients. For instance: oven roasting yellow tomatoes for the Champagne Bar’s spin on a Bloody Mary; infusing gin with agar derived from algae for the Bar’s signature martini; and employing molecular cooking techniques to create foams.
Born and raised in Florence, Rosito worked in his family’s business until an acquaintance – “she later became my wife” – told him about an opening at a local lounge. He started as a server, “but I always kept my eye on the bartender. He noticed and told me: ‘If you want to make cocktails, you have to study first.’”
Good advice – and good timing. One day behind the bar, Rosito served the Bar Manager of Four Seasons Hotel Firenze. “He liked the way I worked and offered me a try.” Starting again as a server at Atrium Bar, Rosito made the most of opportunties and eventually made his way behind the bar. He remembers being daunted out of the gate: “There were so many spirits and ingredients – things I’d never even heard of.” Solution? “I started studying every day and I never stopped.”
After departing Four Seasons in 2015, Rosito found his way to a bar in San Francisco. He revamped its beverage program to one based on “super-high quality, family-made, artisanal products” that weren’t offered else where on the local scene, such as vodka from Tuscany and Italian wines made only from native grapes.
The strategy paid off – for the bar and Rosito. In 2016 he was nominated by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association for a Saucy Award as Manager of the Year, and the following year the San Francisco Chronicle honoured him as a “Bar Star.” In 2015, Rosito became the National Italian Champion at the Bols Around the World competition, and in 2016 he won the Disaronno Mixing Star and represented the US during the Bar Convention in Berlin, where he presented his winning cocktail The Magic Oak.
Whatever the venue, Rosito believes strongly that success blooms from shared passion. “You need to work with people who understand what your goal and gives you freedom to achieve it. It’s always good to remember, there is no ‘I’ in team. It’s all about ‘us’ here.”
Meantime, Rosito is happy making the most of his time and location in South Florida. “People like me are really happy wherever we are,” he says with another laugh. “I love to meet new people and travel as much as I can.”