Seven years ago, Salvatore Damiano wondered into The Captains Club and asked to speak to the Manager. He was fortunate enough to meet Robert, one of the hotel owners. Not looking for a job, Salvatore was offered the position of Bar Manager.
Fast forward 7 years, The Captains Club is one of the most prestigious and most respected bars on the South coast. We went to find out what makes it so special.
- What is the secret to making a grate cocktail?
Making a great cocktail is about understanding the brands that you are using and combining this knowledge with the flavour profile of what the customer wants. Our team are taught to create and suggest drinks that fit the profile of their customer. For example, sex, nationality and age will influence what the customer likes. Asking lots of questions; what flavours do you like? Fruity or dry drinks? Full bodied or fresh? All helps to create the perfect drink.
- What are the main qualities that a great bar crew can offer?
We make our customers feel at home and happy to be here. A successful bar is all about environment. Treat staff well and it will reflect through to the customers. This is very close to our hearts and shows in our team. For example, Matt, our head bar tender has been here for eight years, Tommy Quy ( our bar supervisor) for four and half years as has Marco Lo Nigro (our Barista ). All started out collecting glasses.
- We hear that bar staff often compete in competitions – can you tell us more about that?
Last year, Tommy won third place in the Bournemouth Bar Tenders League of 2014. This year, Tommy has been picked for the World Class 2015 Diageo competition. He is through to the top 50 bar tenders in the country, the best 5 will go through to the finals. The selection process is later this month. I am chairman of the UK Bartenders Guild. We promote responsible drinking and high quality drinks whilst at the same time, nurturing and promoting new talents across the country. An approach that is mirrored here.
- You must see all sorts when you work behind a bar – do you have any particularly funny stories that you can share?
Valentines day 2014 stands out, not as a funny story but as a situation that could have been a disaster. With the terrible rain, the river burst it’s banks, attracting Sky TV to be filming here actually on Valentines night. Our restaurant was full with happy diners. The water was getting closer and we thought we would have to evacuate. The staff kept happy reassuring smiles all night and the diners were unaware of the situation. Outside many of the staff cars were flooded yet the diners continued happy content and unaware of the chaos unfolding outside.
- The Captains Club Hotel is a unique destination – how do you make it special for the clients?
Our location is a major draw, however, our team all pride themselves on making people feel comfortable and welcoming. There is no pretentiousness – we are not a ‘wanna-be’ venue. The Captains Club is a hub for the community and welcomes all ages, including children and even dogs!
We are respectful of our competition; particularly those who recognise similar qualities – this gives us a confidence that we can portray to our customers. There is a place for everyone.