Altamura distilleries at the Donovan Bar

Altamura distilleries at the Donovan Bar 

I was delighted to attend the UK launch of Altamura Distilleries, at The Donovan Bar, London, on bank holiday Monday 28th August 2023.

The Donovan Bar
At this exclusive launch party guests experienced an introduction to the brand-new, premium Altamura Distilleries Vodka from Puglia, Italy, fresh from being awarded "Best International Vodka at Tales of the Cocktail."

I arrived to a buzzing atmosphere in the chic, spacious bar on Albemarle Street. With a talented live musician strumming a guitar, whilst singing popular hits into a microphone throughout the night. 

Mixologists Antonio Ferrara from Aman, Venice and Edoardo Sandri from the Atrium bar at the four seasons hotel, Firenze joined cocktail maestro Salvatore Calabrese - A Donovan Bar native to host the one night takeover. 

The mouth-watering drinks never stopped flowing at this stunning Mayfair bar. A bar which features a stained glass window to one side and a gorgeous arrangement of bottles displayed behind smartly dressed bartenders.

With walls displaying black and white portraits of some iconic people and plush seating for guests. Including a group sitting area towards the back of the bar dubbed the 'naughty corner'. Here you'll find portraits of a more risqué kind. 

Vodka cocktails
Each guest was treated to some incredible Altamura cocktails created by a trio of legendary mixologists - 
- Donovan’s Maestro, Salvatore Calabrese, 
- Italy’s Edoardo of the Atrium Bar 
- Four Seasons Firenze
- Antonio Ferrara of the Aman Venice. 

Altamura Distilleries owner Frank Grillo and the team were also in attendance to share more insight on the launch.

Antonio Ferrara's three cocktails on the menu have featured in Venice cocktail week. The Altamura golden martini is a glamorous looking, strong tasting Martini. With real gold leaf adorning the glass. The drink includes vermouth infused with mint and fennel seeds. 

Fascinating was a fruity. Mildly sweet cocktail I enjoyed. With interesting ingredients like cranberry juice. Cinnamon syrup and raspberry vinegar. 

Summer in the air is another of my favourites from Antonio Ferrara's trio of cocktails. This is a tall glass of acqua bianca. Pink grapefruit juice. Elderflower and chamomile cordial. Peach bitter and soda. 

Edoardo Sandri's trio of cocktails that featured in Florence cocktail week are the humanist. A cocktail of acqua bianca and seaweed water. Tropical storm - a cocktail with coconut. Pineapple dry vermouth and acqua bianca. 

The third cocktail from Edoardo Sandri. Distinguishly titled the pope contains fig mustard and blackberry wine to give the Cocktail its red colour. 

About Altamura Distilleries 

Altamura premium Vodka is an award winning Vodka and the first to be produced with 100% wheat of Altamura. 

The team behind Altamura love warm weather and beaches, which life led them to Puglia, a special region in the south of Italy.

Their love of food led them to discover Pane di Altamura, a traditional bread from the Puglia region.

And our love of all things distilled led them to realize that an amazing loaf of bread is just an amazing bottle of vodka, gin, or whiskey waiting to happen! 

International Vodka at the New Orleans Spirits Competition 2023 gold medal

Altamura Distilleries have been awarded the Gold Medal at the New Orleans Spirits Competition 2023, presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation. 

Moreover, they were also designated best in category : International Vodka. The competition was a difficult one with renowned spirits producers from around the globe contending for this honor alongside an esteemed jury comprised of barmen, mixologists, distillers, journalists, writers and industry luminaries

2023 LA Spirits Awards gold medal

The LA Spirits Awards is an acclaimed international competition established in 2019 by Joel Blum and Nicolette Teo. It stands apart from other contests through its new selection of judges that have the ability to assess spirits entered into competition.

Altamura Vodka was rewarded with gold, among a highly competitive field of contenders, such as Cutwater, High Rock, Ciroq, Three Olives, and Amundsen.

International Spirits Challenge 2023 gold medal 

Altamura Distilleries is celebrating yet again, as its premium vodka has earned another gold medal. Adding to its collection of prestigious awards, this honour further cements the company’s place as one of the top distillers in the industry.

The International Spirits Challenge is the most prestigious and important competition in the high-end spirits sector. Winning a Gold in the heavily contested event, which featured more than 60 vodka brands and impartial judging, is an incredible accomplishment for Altamura. 

London Spirit Competition 2023 silver medal 

Altamura Distilleries proudly claimed the silver medal and an overall rating of 82 points at the 6th edition of the London Spirit Competition. 

Hundreds of spirits brands from around the globe were evaluated in terms of quality, value for money, style and packaging design - with appearance, aroma, body, taste and aftertaste all taken into consideration.

The judges' tasting concluded that Altamura Distilleries Vodka had impeccable quality, presenting aromas of cereals on the nose and palate and a peppery aftertaste.

Bartenders' Brand Awards 2023 3 silver medals

The Bartenders' Brand Awards is an exclusive event that has been held in the United Kingdom for 6 years, providing an independent and reliable review of the best international spirits (vodka, gin, whisky, rum, liqueurs) as well as beers, soft drinks and non-alcoholic beverages used in mixology. 

Through this competition producers of brands for cocktail bars, restaurants and hotels in the UK had a chance to be judged on the key factors such as taste, design and value according to bartenders preferences. Altamura Distilleries was awarded 3 Silver Medals based on these criteria and overall received 76 points.

At Bartenders' Brand Awards, blind tasting is used to ensure quality. Evaluations are done on the basis of a product's aroma, complexity, taste, and suitability for mixing if applicable. 

All samples are organized according to style, age, and origin. The medals recognize achievements in three categories: Taste, Design, and Value - maximum scores of 50 points for Taste and 25 for Design/Value respectively, with an overall score out of 100. Altamura Distilleries recently attained 3 silver medals in these categories.

Taste was scored at 37 out of 50. Ranking 3rd place out of 27 vodkas. 
Design was scored at 19. Coming fourth out of 27 vodkas evaluated. Whilst value was scored at 19 out of 20. Placing Altamura Vodka in 3rd place out of the 27 vodkas evaluated. 

The Fifty Best - Imported Vodka Double Gold medal

The Fifty Best has once again selected and evaluated the best imported vodkas for the esteemed "Best Vodka" awards of 2022. is an online directory for wines and liqueurs, with results from tastings performed by journalists, professionals and industry aficionados in its blind evaluation system. 

As a testament to their commitment to excellence, The Fifty Best upholds strict tasting protocols and criteria. Altamura vodka has been awarded a Double Gold medal at the world's leading spirits competition. 

The Fifty Best conducted a blind tasting of nine imports, with a panel of ten judges. Prior to the tasting, order was decided via random selection. The team followed strict criteria while sampling each vodka; fresh glasses were used from sealed bottles and served at a slightly warmer than room temperature.

The verdict? Toffee on the nose, with nougat, vanilla, rye bread, soft citrus notes, grassy notes, dew-like aromas, and a hint of rain.

A palette of delightful flavour and texture, with Vanilla, Whipped Cream, Powdered Sugar and Sweet Dough at the forefront. Explore further with Mint, Musk, Spicy undertones and an Earthy, Leathery creaminess that is both well balanced and unobtrusive. 

The sum of all is a subtle elegance worth savouring. With final harmonious, balanced, strong and spicy flavours that create a pleasant, full-bodied taste experience that is truly remarkable.

The global spirits masters competition 2022

The Spirits Business is a UK-based print publication and website specializing in the world of spirits. It has an international readership of over 50,000 people within this sector. 

Altamura Distilleries recently participated in the competition for the first time to stellar effect, with two gold and two silver medals awarded! 

Frank Grillo, managing director at the distilleries, said: “Our mission was to create a vodka that embodied the terroir and grain of Altamura, and I'm delighted that our hard work has been recognized.”

The brand have been awarded a Gold medal for their bottle resign. Altamura Distilleries Vodka exudes aromas of "orchard crops" and has been awarded a gold medal for its perfect balance.

Altamura Premium Vodka earned a silver medal in the Wheat division. With another silver awarded in the super premium category. The judges highly commended the "nutty aromas, soft palate and spicy finish" 

Sip Awards International Spirits Competition

The Sip Awards are one of only a handful of globally renowned tournaments where products from around the globe are judged by an impartial jury of consumers. 

At the most recent edition, 800 entries were assessed by this discerning panel, with Altamura Distilleries obtaining a silver medal for their vodka.

About Salvatore Calabrese

The Maestro, Salvatore Calabrese is the most famous Italian bartender. He has been making cocktails for over 40 years. From humble beginnings on the beautiful Amalfi Coast in Italy, where he made his first cocktail aged just 12. Mr Calabrese has since Gone on to mix drinks at the top hotel bars, private members clubs and most exclusive cocktail bars around the world.

Having moved to London, he later opened Duke's Hotel, where he developed an exclusive niche in rare and aged cognacs, which he labeled as Liquid History.

Salvatore earned the very apt nickname 'The Maestro' due to his exceptional mixology talent. His unique creations of concoctions, featuring everything from vintage drinks to new liqueurs, and freshly-squeezed juices, have become modern-day classics.

Known for his flair, style and presence, Salvatore is also responsible for the world’s most expensive cocktail, mixed at The Playboy Club in Mayfair and worth £5,500 per glass! 

Salvatore’s cocktail legacy also extends to his creation of the world’s oldest cocktail, containing rare liqueurs with a combined age of 730 years!

Not only does Salvatore Calabrese know his way around a bar. He's also the bestselling author of 10 books and a past president of the UK Bartenders’ Guild. 

He has received the Tales of the Cocktail Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award and the Imbibe Industry Legend Award, and now consults for select brands. Judging cocktail competitions internationally. 

About The Donovan Bar

The Donovan Bar is the oldest hotel bar in London. It first opened its doors in 1837 and sits alongside Browns - London's first ever five star hotel. The Donovan Bar is named after legendary fashion and portrait photographer from the sixties - Terence Donovan. 

His fascinating works adorn the bar. Should you want to pay homage to Churchill, order a spectacle of a drink dubbed The Winston, a concoction of Dalmore whisky, mandarin liqueur, orange bitters, and eucalyptus that's garnished with a smoke bubble.
If money is no object, you might wish to try Salvatore's Legacy. Not just a cocktail, but one of the most expensive cocktails in the world. Offered at the Donovan Bar for £5,500! The bar mixes up several other vintage cocktails for connoisseurs and enthusiasts. 

As homage to the Donovan bar's 185th anniversary, the Maestro - Calabrese created The 1837, using his own collection of vintage bottles. It includes Rouyer Cognac Vintage from 1865. A 30 year old Bowmore whisky, and Peychaud's bitters, and is priced at £650. 

Steeped in history, The Donovan Bar holds a special place in the heart of London's nightlife. Named after renowned British photographer Terence Donovan, this elegant establishment first opened its doors in 1837 as part of highly rated five star hotel - The Brown's Hotel. Its inception was a collaboration between Sir Rocco Forte and the iconic fashion designer Christopher Bailey.

The bar draws inspiration from Terence Donovan himself, known for his captivating portraits of celebrities and fashion icons during the swinging '60s and beyond. With its stylish décor featuring monochrome prints adorning the walls, plush leather seating, and dimly lit ambiance, stepping into The Donovan Bar feels like entering an intimate time capsule.

What sets this bar apart is not just its nod to nostalgia but also its commitment to innovation. In 2017, it underwent a thoughtfully executed redesign by internationally acclaimed designer Olga Polizzi. The result? A seamless blend of classic charm with contemporary touches that perfectly captures the essence of both Terence Donovan's work and modern-day sophistication.

As you sip your cocktail at one of their expertly crafted oak-paneled tables or sink into one of their sumptuous velvet armchairs, you can't help but feel enveloped in an atmosphere that exudes elegance and exclusivity. A testament to the rich legacy that The Donovan Bar embodies within London's vibrant social scene.

Intrigued by what awaits on their menu? Let's dive deeper into what makes visiting The Donovan Bar such a remarkable experience!

The Bar's Unique Atmosphere

Step into The Donovan Bar and you'll be transported to a world of timeless elegance and sophistication. Nestled in the heart of Albemarle Street, this legendary bar exudes a unique atmosphere that is both chic and intimate.

The first thing you'll notice when entering The Donovan Bar is the warm and inviting ambiance. The dim lighting, plush velvet seating, and rich wood paneling create an atmosphere that is both cozy and luxurious. It's the perfect place to unwind after a long day or enjoy a romantic evening with someone special.

One of the standout features of The Donovan Bar's unique atmosphere is its art collection. Curated by none other than iconic British photographer Terence Donovan himself, the walls are adorned with stunning black-and-white photographs that capture moments from London's swinging sixties. 

These captivating images contribute to the overall sense of nostalgia and glamour that permeates every corner of the bar. Another aspect that sets The Donovan Bar apart is its impeccable service. 

From the moment you step through the door, you'll be greeted by friendly staff who are knowledgeable about their craft. Whether it's recommending a signature cocktail or sharing anecdotes about famous guests who have frequented the bar, they go above and beyond to ensure your experience is nothing short of extraordinary.

No visit to The Donovan Bar would be complete without indulging in their delectable menu offerings from Michelin starred chef Adam Byatt. From sophisticated small plates to mouthwatering desserts, there's something for every palate. And let's not forget about their impressive selection of wines, spirits, and cocktails expertly crafted by skilled mixologists who take pride in their creations.

As you sip on your drink surrounded by an air of elegance, it's easy to see why so many celebrities have been drawn to The Donovan Bar over the years. From Hollywood stars like Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman to renowned musicians like Mick Jagger and David Bowie – this hidden gem has played host to some truly unforgettable moments in history.

The Menu

The Menu at The Donovan Bar is a delightful blend of classic and contemporary offerings, designed to please even the most discerning palates. With a focus on quality ingredients and expert craftsmanship, the menu showcases an array of delectable options that are sure to satisfy any craving.

Start your evening off with some mouthwatering small plates, such as the truffle mac and cheese bites or the crispy calamari with chili lime dipping sauce. These appetizers are perfect for sharing with friends while you sip on one of their signature cocktails.

For those looking for something heartier, The Donovan Bar offers a selection of delicious main courses. Indulge in their perfectly cooked steak frites or savor the flavors of their roasted salmon with wilted spinach and lemon butter sauce. Vegetarians will also find plenty to love on the menu, including a flavorful wild mushroom risotto.

Of course, no visit to The Donovan Bar would be complete without sampling one (or more) of their incredible desserts. From rich chocolate lava cake to creamy vanilla panna cotta topped with fresh berries, each sweet treat is beautifully presented and absolutely scrumptious.

No matter what you choose from The Donovan Bar's menu, you can expect impeccable presentation, exceptional flavors, and top-notch service. So why not treat yourself to an unforgettable dining experience? Head over to Albemarle Street today and discover all that this iconic bar has to offer!

The Drinks

The drinks served at The Donovan Bar are truly exceptional. Each cocktail is expertly crafted with precision and care, ensuring that every sip is a delight to the senses.

From classic concoctions to innovative creations, the menu offers a wide range of options to suit all tastes. Whether you prefer a refreshing gin-based drink or a bold whiskey-infused cocktail, there is something for everyone at The Donovan Bar.

One standout drink on the menu is their signature Negroni. Made with equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari, this timeless classic never fails to impress. Served over ice with a twist of orange peel, it strikes the perfect balance between bitter and sweet.

For those seeking something more adventurous, try the Golden Age Martini. This unique blend of vodka infused with saffron and honeycomb creates an exquisite flavor profile that is both indulgent and sophisticated.

If you're in the mood for something fruity and vibrant, opt for the Passionfruit Mojito. With its combination of rum, mint leaves, lime juice, sugar syrup, soda water,and passionfruit puree,this tropical libation will transport you straight to paradise.

No matter which drink you choose from The Donovan Bar's extensive menu,you can expect exceptional quality,great attention to detail,and impeccable presentation.

Every aspect has been carefully considered,to ensure that your drinking experience is nothing short of extraordinary

Celebrities Who Have Graced The Donovan Bar

The Donovan Bar has long been a hotspot for the rich, famous, and influential. Its reputation as one of London's most exclusive watering holes has attracted celebrities from all walks of life. Whether you're into music, film, or fashion, chances are you'll spot someone notable while sipping on your favorite cocktail.

Musicians have made their mark at The Donovan Bar over the years. Rock legends like Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney have been known to drop in for a drink or two. It's no surprise that this iconic establishment would be frequented by these music icons who have shaped generations with their talent.

Film stars also find solace within the walls of The Donovan Bar. Actors such as Jude Law and Keira Knightley have enjoyed its intimate setting while unwinding after a long day on set. You never know when you might rub shoulders with Hollywood royalty at this hidden gem.

Fashionistas are not left out either. Renowned designers like Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen have found inspiration amidst the elegant surroundings of The Donovan Bar. Their presence adds an extra touch of glamour to an already stylish venue.

It's not just British celebs who grace this bar; international stars also make appearances here during their visits to London! From actors like George Clooney to musicians like Rihanna, it seems everyone wants a taste of what The Donovan Bar has to offer.

If you want a chance encounter with your favorite celebrity or simply enjoy being in close proximity to those who shape pop culture, then The Donovan Bar is definitely worth checking out!

The Donovan Bar is a true gem in the heart of London's Mayfair district. With its rich history, unique atmosphere, and exceptional menu, it stands as a testament to the timeless allure of classic cocktail bars.

Stepping into The Donovan Bar feels like entering another era. The elegant décor and intimate setting create an ambiance that is both sophisticated and inviting. Whether you're looking for a quiet evening drink or a lively night out with friends, this bar has something to offer everyone.

The menu at The Donovan Bar is truly impressive. From classic cocktails to innovative creations, there is no shortage of options to tantalize your taste buds. Each drink is expertly crafted by skilled mixologists who take pride in delivering an unforgettable experience.

Speaking of drinks, let's not forget about the extensive selection available at The Donovan Bar. From vintage spirits to rare liqueurs, their collection will impress even the most discerning connoisseur. Whether you prefer something sweet and fruity or bold and smoky, there's a drink waiting just for you.

Over the years, The Donovan Bar has welcomed some notable celebrities through its doors. From Hollywood actors to music icons, many have found solace in this hidden gem away from prying eyes. It's no surprise that this establishment has become synonymous with elegance and exclusivity.

If you're looking for a place where history meets modernity, where refined tastes are celebrated with every sip, then look no further than The Donovan Bar on Albemarle Street. Indulge yourself in the enchanting atmosphere while sipping on exquisite cocktails – it's an experience that should not be missed when visiting London.
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