From Oriole Bar London to Blu Bar Sydney

Rebecca Varidel
18th Aug 2016

Hump Day. The middle of the week just calls for cocktails to get us through until the weekend.

This Wednesday we had the chance for a one-on-one with famous visiting international bartender Luca Cinalli of Oriole Bar London.

Cinalli helped turn Nightjar into one of the most talked-about cocktail joints in London making the “50 Best Bars in the World” list, before helming the bar at Oriele, which recently won “Best New International Cocktail Bar” at the 10th Annual Spirited Awards.

Octopus milk and squid ink were on the menu. And, we are not talking food but drinks.

On offer this week only at Blu Bar Shangri La Sydney while Luca Cinalli is guest celebrity mixologist are four of his diverse range of famous creations.

His feted cocktails include the finely smoked Alcazar which uses brandy, fino sherry, wine leaves, aloe crème angle and lemon, served with Madeira cake.

Octo Punch an ode to the sea, consists of gin, coffee leaves, vermouth, ristretto stouth, pressure-cooked milk and duriam foam with durian popcorn and chocolate sea shells as a garnish. Totally adored the salt and pepper seafood sand that with aloe vera adorned this Champagne glass. (In London this is served in a double octopus mug.)

Illyria entrances with rye whisky, mezcal, salted rhubarb amaro, gentian wine, drops of cascara tincture, absinthe tobacco with a dried billy button flower garnish.

Taking its inspiration from South America, Ollantaytambo blends pisco, eucalyptus chicha, purple morada and lime juice, with garnishes of beetroot, blue corn and fried chulpi.

Amazingly all of these drinks embrace all of the senses from showmanship of the making to olfactory greeting through to the taste and texture embrace of these fabbie drinks.

The evolution of some of his cocktails has taken years. But that's not the only thing that takes time. Cinalli is known to take 7 hours to prep before a 4 hour shift. He admits he doesn't understand industry workers who just put in the minimum hours. In Oriole Bar he tells me, there are dedicated prep bartenders on show in a cage behind the front bar.

Not only are the drinks unusual and some of the best creative cocktails that we've tasted but it is a joy to watch his precision cocktail making including some famous moves of shake and pour.

Celebrity Cinalli who originally hails from an Italian village of only 500 people, shakes things up at Blu Bar on Level 36 Shangri La Hotel Sydney this week until August 21st. Although the man himself would not welcome that celebrity label, he is one of the most humble people I've ever met and just dedicated to his craft. In fact he calls himself a hospitality worker not a bartender, as he says he also meets and greets. His job is making people happy and finding the drink that fits with them.

An exclusive cocktail master class with Cinalli will also take place this Saturday August 20th at 2 pm which is guaranteed to have cocktail connoisseurs ecstatic.

For general enquiries and master class bookings, please call (+61 2) 9250 6000 or email

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Level 36, 176 Cumberland Street
02 9250 6000

Mon – Thu 5pm – midnight

Fri – Sat 4pm – 1am

Sun 5pm – 11pm