Sun. Jun 16th, 2024

The interior of Gio’s Bar at the St. Regis in Venice, Italy.

St. Regis Venice

Let’s be honest. Venice is one of the most gorgeous cities on earth. It’s like stepping back in time, to marvel at some Medieval fairy tale. And many of the 4-million-odd annual visitors here are coming to do just that. If they’re coming to experience craft cocktails, however, they might leave disappointed. By and large, the local drinks scene is also some relic of the past. It’s not as if you can’t get a great spritz or a Negroni, but the more expertly-executed tipples are few and far between. Unless you find yourself at The St. Regis Venice, that is. And you really ought to find yourself here.

The five star property at the southerly mouth of the Grand Canal is home to one of Venice’s premiere drinks destinations: the Arts Bar. With a menu described as an “avant-garde selection of art-inspired modern and classic cocktails,” this is a place where the loftiness of the liquids is befitting of the scenery.

It is run by Fecund Gallegos, who spent eight years perfecting his own art at some of the top hotel bars of London, including The Connaught and The Dorchester. Here he oversees a seasonal spectrum of cocktails, each one inspired by a different artist who helped shape the cultural history of Venice at some point during the city’s 1600 year history.

The Venetian Cobbler, for example, is a nod to the legendary mannerist painter Tintoretto. The 16th century master helped pioneer chiaroscuro techniques. And his dark, brooding canvases are reflected in the rich and robust fruit-forward presentation of the sherry drink, served under a billowing cloud of applewood smoke.

Canal Art carries the theme into the modern era with a mezcal preparation evoking the mysterious street artist, Banksy. “The spirit [has] a very strong personality yet remains mysterious and unknown to the commercial streams of popularity, similarly to the artist,” the menu explains. The drink is dressed up with an air of locality—literally; the mixologists use aromatized salt water to recall the sensory experience of floating through the surrounding lagoons.

It’s always happy hour at Gio’s Restaurant and Terrace along the Grand Canal

St. Regis Venice

Presentation is impeccable across the board, applied meticulously to all half-dozen of the signature cocktails on pour. But Gallegos makes certain that there’s ample substance behind the style. And that you can also receive original renderings on the classics—at once familiar, yet entirely unexpected.

“We have created a selection of creative spins on spritzes – in addition to the classics – made with different liqueurs, bitters, and different aromatic essences,” he explains. “One of the most popular we serve is the Pink Spritz, made with pink grapefruit liquer and rose essence, recalling the flowers growing in our beautiful garden overlooking the Grand Canal. This is just one of the many ways we’ve introduced classic creations with creative spins to push the boundaries of traditional Italian cocktail making.”

But if you’re feeling something more straightforward, there are other options on property—a total of three venues to explore during a visit to the St. Regis. The lobby bar is where you’ll head for Negronis, Martinis, and Bellinis. And if you want to explore the native viticulture, make a reservation at Gio’s Restaurant & Terrace, for an expansive list of Italian vino, paired alongside markedly modern Venetian cuisine.

Every October, Gallegos and his team are outsized participants in Venice Cocktail Week. In just its third year, the annual celebration is already attracting top mixologists from around the globe for guests stints, tastings and demonstrations. This time around, Arts Bar will be welcoming the talented team from Handshake Speakeasy in Mexico City—number 3 on the current list of World’s Best Bars—and Locale Firenze out of Florence.

Regardless of when you arrive at the St. Regis, though, the bar team will be eager to make the case: Venice is ready to be counted amongst the modern drinks renaissance. It’s an argument which becomes all the more compelling when you’re sipping alongside scenes from the actual Renaissance. You can secure similar scenery overnight, from the pampered comfort of your luxe suite. But it’s a significant uncharge over a standard Arts Bar Cocktail. The one bedroom Grand Canal View Suite starts at $3200 per night.

VENICE, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 01: Timothée Chalamet Spotted Drinking MARTINI Fiero & Tonic at The St. … [+] Regis Venice Ahead of Venice International Film Festival on September 01, 2022 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Jacopo M. Raule/WireImage)

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