Barcelona, the home of Gaudi, the adopted home of yours truly, and also home to some of the best bars in the world. Today, we bring you an interview with Dani Pappa, a Milan born Barcelona transplant whose career brought him to Paradiso, in the El Born section of Barcelona.
Walking into Paradiso, you first see an ordinary deli like store front where they sell some sandwiches. Behind a hidden door reveals the award winning bar. But as guests of Dani, we had a special treat—the speakeasy within the speakeasy, as Dani brought my erstwhile companion Saf and I into a bathroom (I know it sounds odd) where behind a sink, after a couple of buttons were pushed, opened an exclusive private bar reminiscent of The Macallan Distillery.
When did you start bartending?
I was 16. I studied at a school for hospitality, and I had an internship for three months at the Bulgari Hotel.
So what did you do after you graduated?
After graduation, I worked some events, including at fashion week in Milan, but then I left to go to the U.K.
Why the U.K.?
I went to learn English and had my first experience behind the bar in West Sussex. I wanted to be outside of London so I could learn English and not just speak with the Italian community, which is so big in London.
How long did you stay?
After a year, I got tired of the weather, and moved to Thailand for four months. Eventually, I ended up working at a Marriott in Venice, which eventually got me to the Hotel Arts, a Ritz Carlton property here in Barcelona.
Is that how you came to work here?
More or less. I went back to Italy and then to Dubai briefly, but I was a regular here at Paradiso and knew Giacomo, the owner, and the staff, so I think I was destined to work here, which is where I have been the last two years.
At this point, Dani decided to make some amazing cocktails with our new CBD spirits, which was absolutely a masterclass in mixology craftsmanship and also, where my notes became a little sparse as the drinks were too good to stop drinking.
He made this amazing drink we called a Top Fizz, which was a mixture of sweet and sour and our gin. It looked like a soufflé, with cream, an egg white and some soda water, and was put in a champagne flute. It was just stellar.
Ok, so back to the interview, if you could make one drink what would it be?
I love a daiquiri. I think I make a great one and that is my go-to drink to serve to someone. When I guest bartend anywhere, I use my personal recipe, and I think it is truly special.
Tell me your thoughts about Barcelona
I love it here. The weather is great, although it’s getting a bit cold here now!
How did you learn your craft?
I had a great professor in hospitality high school that brought me to do internships and give me work experience. But I mostly learned from experience, where I developed my standards.
Usually I do longer interviews, but the blessing of the ones I do in person, is the constant drinking we do and the sampling of some ridiculously inventive and delicious cocktails. Basically, at this point questions ceased and hilarity reigned.
Eventually, Dani made us his daiquiri with our CBD White Rum and it ain’t no joke! The man has some mad skills and it was another winner. Of course, other cocktails followed, and I was left with the lasting impression that Dani, at 24 years old is a master at his craft.
Barcelona has a lot of amazing things about it: sun, beaches, architecture, food and culture. But it also has Dani Pappa and Top 50 Bar in the World Paradiso. Go see Dani on your next visit to Barcelona at Paradiso and ask him to make you a Top Fizz. You won’t be disappointed!