Part barman, part friend: a welcome from Domenico Sinno, head barman at the Café Martinetti in the Grand Hotel Majestic “già Baglioni” | Grand Hotel Majestic - Luxury 5 stars Hotel


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Part barman, part friend: a welcome from Domenico Sinno, head barman at the Café Martinetti in the Grand Hotel Majestic “già Baglioni”

Part barman, part friend: a welcome from Domenico Sinno, head barman at the Café Martinetti in the Grand Hotel Majestic “già Baglioni”


Mon, 08/29/2022 - 10:00


His counter is the hotel’s “second reception desk”: it is here that clients come to wind down over an aperitif, to toast a business agreement or simply to have a chat before going to bed. Domenico Sinno serves rock stars and business people, always with a smile and the care that marks out high-quality service.

Do you remember your first day working at the Café Martinetti in the Grand Hotel Majestic?

My first day was very challenging, as you might expect in a luxury 5-star hotel: right from the very start, it’s necessary to organise work, above all train collaborators to act as contact persons for all the many clients who come to the bar. The bar is like the hotel’s second reception desk and its job is to welcome people and make them feel comfortable. In a hotel like ours, where 90% of the clientele is international, it’s easy to find oneself dealing with cultures and requests different from the ones we’re used to. Of all the places in the hotel, it’s the bar where clients form a relationship with the staff. It sometimes takes just a couple of days to find out about the lives and works and personal business of the people we are serving, and we often find ourselves offering them suggestions about what to visit in Bologna and environs. Managing a department that works so much and so busily is certainly tough, but it’s also rewarding: it takes passion, curiosity and know-how and, sometimes, you have to be something of a psychologist too.

In your opinion, which is the cocktail that best captures the soul of the Grand Hotel Majestic? And why?

Easily the cocktail we serve the most – sometimes we make over 200 in a single evening – is the Majestic Negroni, a great classic made with Carpano Antica Formula, Tanqueray gin and Campari Bitter. It’s a robust, punchy cocktail that represents Italy and is very popular with international guests. But the best-known cocktail at the Cafè Martinetti is the Roberta, a tribute to the great head barman Pietro Cuccoli, who worked at the Hotel Grand Baglioni from 1933 to 1975. It’s a blend of vodka, cherry brandy crème de banana, Campari and Martini Extra Dry, ingredients that give it a fair alcohol content, but accompanied by a sensation of sweetness. It’s also an award-winner, having come first in the “pre-dinner” category at the International Cocktail Competition-Saint Vincent in 1963, ahead of 190 other creations by as many barmen from 18 different countries. And it has also been drunk by illustrious celebrities such as Sophia Loren.

You must travel yourself sometimes. What is the first thing you notice when you visit hotel bars elsewhere? And what do you like ordering as a customer?

The first thing I do is observe the person behind the counter. They have to convey the sensation that they’ve had good professional training. Approach and movements at the bar can tell you a lot about a professional. For me, it’s very important for the bar, hence the workplace, to be clean and tidy. In general, precisely on account of my job, I don’t go out very much, but when I do, I prefer somewhere reliable, maybe sipping a nice Americano.

How would you describe your typical day?

I get to the bar at three o’clock in the afternoon and the first thing I do is check that the lad who’s worked at the counter in the morning has left everything in order. Then I check the bottles, arrange orders with the supply officer and start preparing the room. I occasionally like to play around with the coffee machine: if the weather’s humid I adjust it for a coarser grind, it the weather’s dry, I make it finer, and so on. Service begins between 3.30 and 4pm because this is an international hotel and sometimes guests from overseas, who are maybe suffering from jet lag after a long journey, enjoy a snack and a drink in the afternoon. We serve aperitifs from 6pm until 8.30pm. During that time there are a number of us in the room and behind the counter to meet the needs of all the guests. After-dinner drinks are served until midnight, though we hardly ever manage to go home before one or two o’clock in the morning. In our work, after a day and an evening talking with guests, one always needs a moment to unwind. Unlike a normal cocktail bar, we pay a lot of attention to clients’ habits right from the first time we serve them – what they like drinking, how many days they are staying and so on – in order to meet their very whim during their stay. Since the hotel is a landmark in Bologna, we often host events, presentations and meetings.

What’s your favourite memory of the Majestic?

The most memorable thing I’ve done here is make a Margarita for Paul McCartney. I’ll never forget that evening: the entrance door to the restaurant on Via Manzoni almost buckled under pressure from all the people who wanted to see him. I’ve had the chance to serve a great many famous personalities: Guns N’ Roses, who drank vodka, Depeche Mode, Jennifer Lopez, for whom we laid on a private dinner in her room, Iron Maiden and, recently, John Landis, who was very pleasant and polite, with his family.

What could you never do without at your work place? A smell, a spice, a specific utensil …

Without a doubt, the two main tools of my trade: a good mixing glass and a Boston Shaker.




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