Singapore: We caught up with Silvio Daniele, the newly appointed Principal Bartender of Caffe Fernet. The good-natured 28-year-old is leading the charge with Caffe Fernet’s new beverage programme, which marries legacy and classics with new innovation, with the goal of revolutionising daytime drinking in Singapore. We talked to him about the process, the future of the industry and his favourite meal on his days off.
Caffe Fernet’s new beverage menu is now available here. Happy Hour runs daily from opening till 6.30pm with special pricing on selected cocktails. wines by glass, and Pilsner Urquell beer buckets. For latest updates, head over to Caffe Fernet’s Instagram for more.
Where and how did you get started in hospitality?
During my university days in my hometown of Napoli, I started working in cafes to pay for my law degree tuition fees. I just happened to spend an increasing amount of time behind the bar. Out of the blue, it occurred to me that I was a decent bartender and a pretty casual student, so I decided that my future office will be a bar rather than the court!
How would you describe your job?
My job is the engine of my life. I’m lucky enough to wake up in the morning and be excited about going to work. Particularly, I realised that working at Caffe Fernet has made me a much more humble person.
I came here after being part of Jigger & Pony, an award winning and highly acclaimed cocktail bar with one of the strongest bar teams in Asia. There, even if I felt that I didn’t deliver my best performance on any day at work, customers will still have the best experience, given the strength and experience of the team.
At Caffe Fernet, albeit leading a talented and enthusiastic team, I’m the most experienced person in the bar. Therefore, I set the standards. This drives me to always be on my toes and be present.
It’s a tiring but satisfying hustle that I’m glad to be doing right now.
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For those that haven’t visited, tell us a bit more about Caffe Fernet in your own words?
Located by the bay, we are a New Italian restaurant bar in one of the most beautiful places in downtown Singapore. Meals and drinks are driven by Italian flavours, but I love how we don’t keep our concept too stiff, you might find some Asian, or even local, influences across the menus.
If you haven’t visited us yet, you might wonder what Fernet means! An Italian liqueur created with herbs, spices and barks, it’s aged in Slovakian oak. Considered a good digestive after a meal, it’s also a kind of “handshake” shot for the bar industry.
Can you tell us more about the new beverage programme and stories behind these cocktails?
Caffe Fernet’s new cocktail menu is categorised by the different times of the day, from sunrise to midnight. Enjoying various kinds of food, depending on time of the day, is an Italian tradition, and that was one of the sources of inspiration.
This allowed us to not only put on the menu very classic Italian cocktails (like the Aperol Spritz and Negroni), we could also include more variety of options. I believe that being proud of and true to your concept is important, but so is being flexible with it. Someone might just come in craving for a Raspberry Margarita, even if you have the best Negroni in town.
I love the Lemon Cooler, a Limoncello based drink with gin, lemon juice, and ginger ale. It’s so fresh and effortless to drink. To me, it falls in that category of modern classics, where simple ingredients get together in unusual combinations to make a drink that can be replicated all around the world. Maybe this is the drink that will make me famous one day!
What do you think about the pricing of restaurant menus – do you think the industry should charge more?
Singapore is an expensive city. With rising cost of raw materials and overheads, inflation and cost of goods, managers and owners would want to maintain a healthy bottom line for their businesses. But I believe that the industry calibrates prices to give their customers better quality, and that the crowd can recognise the value and worth of what you’re offering.
Prices across our new beverage programme saw a slight increase as we invested in higher quality glassware, spirits and wine, and ingredients in order to provide the best quality drinks, as well as the hospitality our guests deserve. That said, we made sure to have a comfortable range that consumers can choose from.
What needs to happen to ensure that the industry is better supported moving forward?
I was recently watching some talks from the Berlin Bar Convent in 2018 online. Although it was four years ago, I found most of what they were talking about still relevant in the modern bar scene and impactful on how I decide to run my bar on a daily basis.
Education is the future and we should all put some effort into reading, exploring or listening from our peers to set some solid foundations for what’s next.
Where do you like to eat or drink on your day off?
I’m a morning person, so my meals are mostly made of eggs, toast, avocado and good coffee. I love a proper English Breakfast, and there are decent options in Singapore. If I’m out for leisure, I’m probably drinking wine. I enjoy not-too-old Barbaresco to contemplate and bubbles to celebrate.
Image credit: Caffe Fernet