Atelier Cocktail Bar – A watering hole in the wild beauty of Gran Canaria
Some were wondering when I posted all these wonderful pictures from Gran Canaria. Admittedly, when I got the invitation I thought it must be a mistake. A cocktail bar in one of the most touristic areas, really? But I was proven wrong, and this is my story.
Atelier is located on the island of Gran Canaria, specifically, next to one of the biggest untouched costal dunes, Maspalomas. An extraordinary beach on the southern side of the island which extends for miles and paints a beautiful scene full of dunes which is quite unique on the island. Gran Canaria is home to one of the best climates in the world, 300 days of sunshine and very little rain, boosting both comfort and health. This island boasts international tourism all year round, incredibly delicious and affordable raw ingredients and a very open-minded and welcoming local population. Why? Because the Canary Islands have always been a meeting point for people from different places. Their astonishing mix of fragrances, colours and cultures impressed the travellers of days gone by when they visited this final port on the edge of Europe, before setting off on a long and arduous adventure overseas.
Atelier cocktail bar is located on the eighth floor of the Bohemia Suites & Spa hotel with a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean and the Dunes of Maspaloma.
When I arrived at Bohemia Suites & Spa hotel I was surprised by the beautiful building in between the agglomerate of hotels. Bohemia belongs to Design Hotels™ representing a hand-selected collection of privately owned and operated hotels with an individual hotel experience. The building has history and was constructed in the 70s. It was rebuilt a few years ago but you will find some of the old wooden handrails in the staircases as a reminder—a nice detail. Overall it is a sophisticated lifestyle oasis for adults. I felt welcome and at home from the very first second, but somehow transferred to the orient with the rich orange and violet tones. The décor of the rooms is tasteful but practical at the same time. My bed was so comfy and cozy and my view of the ocean endless. Perfection from pool to spa and attention to detail in every corner but it is the service you always remember first. Cordial care for guests is the soul of this hotel. From the first welcome to the farewell. And their ethos of hospitality is a recurring philosophy creating an experience that is unique. As sustainability is no longer a trend but a way of life, the hotel is plastic free and amongst other things, focuses on local products.
Its philosophy, “Guest at a friend’s place”, makes every guest feel as if they are in the company of good friends, while also enjoying the professional level of service they would expect from a five-star hotel.
Let’s take the elevator to the 8th floor and be delighted by the beautiful view, the excellent restaurant and the cocktail bar. The idea of Atelier Cocktail Bar was born in 2015. “Our objective was clear: to create a cocktail bar with a twist; with its own focal point, centred more on the overall experience of our guests, and above all, with a personal touch as the focal point.” This is what brought Raimondo Palomba, bar manager, Beatriz Díaz, responsible for marketing & communication together, along with Fernando Calvo, the director of Bohemia Suites & Spa. They visited many bars all over Europe and took the best parts with them. They tailored Atelier Cocktail Bar to fit the local conditions. With their different backgrounds and their love for hospitality they have created a unique and special hideaway with high class cocktails. The name Atelier, by the way, comes from French and means studio. It’s a place where work is done, often manual in origin and artisan in nature. The personal touch is very important and always present.
A bold undertaking to bring a highly sophisticated concept that usually works in big bar destinations such as London and Barcelona to Playa Ingles. They have cojones, I thought to myself.
The intention was to do something different, to stand out from the crowd. It was clear from the beginning that they would need stamina and budget. But what makes the difference? It is the perfect marriage of location, atmosphere and team. It is an experience that stays in your mind and sometimes can change our views of things.
First, you can enter the bar via an external lift. They removed the hurdle of passing an exclusive hotel lobby and searching for the bar which, at least for me, usually creates an uncomfortable feeling. You are then greeted by the welcoming bar team, and then the atmosphere comes in play. The endless view, the fire places, the live music, the aromas and scents coming from the open kitchen of the connected 360 restaurant. The restaurant by the way is excellent and the breakfast in the morning rich and tasty.
Each cocktail has a story to tell and comes with a special pairing. They look very instagrammable, like postcards that you can show to family and friends back home. They stay fresh in your mind. The best way to educate your guests is by taste not by spirits. As most of the guests are not “cocktail pros” they need a bit of an explanation. The team take the time to explain and help you through the cocktail list. The menu “Diary of a Bartender VOL II” is a compilation of experiences and emotions that are part of the collective consciousness. It comes in a beautiful leather binding and is easy to understand: A list of the ingredients, flavour profile, a nice illustration and a quote. Take a seat and have a look at these fantastic libations. Yankee, for example, is a digestive cocktail elaborated with Maker’s Mark bourbon whiskey flavoured with peanut butter, popcorn Maple syrup and BBQ bitter. It is paired with homemade bacon marshmallows. One of my favourite drinks was The Thousand and One Nights, a beautiful cocktail based on Cognac macerated with dates, refined with nut liqueur, palm honey, Amaro and bitters. Paired with a sweet delight hiding in the tiny tajine. The Gala is a cocktail inspired by the muse of the painter Salvador Dalí and also his wife. It is elaborated with Grappa di Amarone macerated with hibiscus flowers, beetroot shrub, Oporto wine, lemon, egg white and champagne. It is paired with an edible paper canvas and three liquor gels.
Shaken and stirred. Drinks aren’t just mixed – they’re staged.
Spirits are well chosen and are mostly provided by small-batch artisanal producers. The small bites and treats that come with the drinks are freshly made by the bar team each day. To offer best quality, local produce is preferred. I sipped my way through their menu. The drinks are both eye candies and palate treats. No wonder that in 2018 Atelier Cocktail Bar has positioned itself in the top 10 of Best Hotel Bars in Europe by Tales of the Cocktails.
A Bar is always as good as its team. At Atelier it is a great mix and they are both attentive and convivial.
The key to success is atmosphere and hospitality. Raimondo told me that what matters the most is that the staff have friendly characters, are hospitable and that they love what they do. Everything else can be learned. At Atelier I noticed that many of the young talents are women, which is a welcome change to the more male-dominated bar scene.
The bar team is growing together. They make trips to distilleries, bar shows and attend external training courses. In addition, they invite experienced bartenders for guestshifts and offer masterclasses and workshops for colleagues from other surrounding bars. When I was there François Monti held a masterclass about “The Cocktail: History in 7 drinks. A journey with the pioneers, from 1806 to 1904”. Monti is a Belgian journalist and cocktail writer based in Madrid. Fabio Bacchi, who has been a leading figure in the Italian bar and spirits industry for decades, talked about Italian cocktail culture. The perfect ending to the masterclasses was the guestshift of the famous bar entrepreneur and bartender Juan Valls, introducing some of the new drinks from his bar El Niño Perdido in Valladolid. That was also the last night of my three days adventure at this fascinating and enchanting place. If you want to escape for a while, it is just a couple of flying hours away.