Born in 1982, Adriano Rizzuto has Nordic training, first in Turin, behind the counter of his brother's bar, then in Milan, where he met Miguel, a Cuban bartender who transmitted his passion for the world of mixology, and finally in London, where worked in the best clubs with Nicolas Saint Jean, founder of the European Style of European Bartending. At the end of many journeys, Adriano returns to his native Palermo in 2013, a place that had never left his heart. To him we owe the opening of Close, a local with London atmosphere, where he gave space to little-known distillates in Sicily, also focusing on the enhancement of local products, first of all citrus fruits. A place, therefore, that conveys mixology culture, until five years ago still little known beyond the Messina strait, playing on the memory and traditions of the Palermo people: an approach rewarded by the public and critics, including being included in our guide Bar d'Italia 2018 as one of the best cocktail bars in Italy, unique to Sicily. Nevertheless Adriano has not rested on his laurels, and has once again invested in his city with money and energy in a project of revaluation of the historic center, which in recent years is bringing together several enlightened dining entrepreneurs (such as Good Company Sicily, which just a few days ago inaugurated the last of its many projects near Vucciria, Aja Mola), attracting investors willing to fund the cultural renaissance of Palermo, like Massimo Valsecchi, who transferred his collection to Palazzo Butera in partnership with Tasca d'Almerita. The new creature of Adriano Rizzuto, instead, is called Hostel Drink&Hospitality, and it's located at a stone's throw from the Vucciria market, and precisely on via dei Materassai..
Everything here stems from the history of the street where the bar is located, a historically important one, where the Florio family started their business in 1800 with a trade in aromatics and drugs. "Today few people know where via Materassai is, also because until recently it was in a total state of abandonment, yet it was once the center of every commercial activity. This is why, together with other entrepreneurs, we are trying to restore dignity to the street". Now at number 11 and 13, in what used to be the loggia of Vincenzo Florio, there is a place that pays homage to the history of the family and its artistic sensibility, with marked preference for the Art Nouveau style. "During the eight months of revovation work we completely overhauled the spaces, yet respecting their history. We brought to light the beautiful majolica, the 1864 coffered ceilings and other architectural beauties we found in the structure".It will be a 150 square meter local developed on two floors, with two different concepts. The cocktail bar on the ground floor, visible from the street through huge stained-glass windows, conceptually like the hall of an international hostel, with exposed beams and brick walls, a bit of a London style. "Here from 6am to 10pm wine will be tapped directly from the barrels, cocktails from the balloons and beers will obviously be on tap from kegs. From 10pm onwards the atmosphere changes and we start with rock and roll upstairs, I want to see booty move!".
A bar at the clients' service
Allow the term, since the goal is precisely to move away from the concept of cocktail bar, although to enter, customers need for a badge of three different colors, depending on the duration and services included. "The badge is a way to contain the number of people since the place has only 60 seats". So, once you get it, you go up the majolica stairs, you open a small door and you reach the bar counter, designed by Adriano himself. Behind the counter is Giulia D'Alberto (with experiences at Jerry Thomas Speakeasy of Rome), who will prepare "classic cocktails, made as they should". One last question: why Hostel? "Because it implies the concept of hospitality, which here is a priority. Our guests must feel at home. The local wants to disengage from any type of target, with the aim of being a place that's open to the city". Palermo thanks and continues to grow in this unexpected golden age of renewed civility, new entrepreneurship, and convincing quality.
Hostel Drink&Hospitality – Palermo - via dei Materassai, 11/13 – Opening 20 July
by Annalisa Zordan
translated by Eleonora Baldwin