A Portuguese bartender that has been getting his recognition in the Bar industry -through his creative cocktail presentations, menus designs and the development of full bar concepts.
He is part of the Onis family since we met him in 2014, as the winner of the Portuguese contests “Barman of the Year” and vintage which was sponsored by Onis during Lisbon Bar Show. He participated in the second edition of Glassology Design contest, where he reached the semi-finals. In Lisbon Bar Show in 2017, we invited him to perform a guest shift in the Onis stand, where he created surprising and tasty cocktail combinations.
Wilson has been all over the world as a guest behind bars and lately traveling to learn more about the different cultures, meeting new people and exploring new gastronomies, to inspire and make the difference for people in his own community.
Following is the interview where you can read Wilson’s statement and bio.
What kind of education did you have before you ended up in the drinks industry?
I have a degree in Tourism
What made you want to focus on the drinks industry?
Like most part of the people from our industry, I also ended-up here by accident. I first started because I joined a Cruise Line company, where I could travel and work at the same time. During that period of time, I felt in love for this liquid art form, that is created to deliver so many good moments and smiles to my guests. So, I decide to work on becoming the best professional I could be and make my leaving from it.
Who is the person that inspired you the most?
I had the chance to work with incredible professionals and human beings. I would not be fair if I mention only one name, I would pick someone from a completely different industry that is an Idol for me: Sam the Kid. A Portuguese rapper that change his scene and is an inspiration for so many generations. I aspire to be like him in my industry someday.
Which moment in your career changed your life?
In 2014, when I won the competition ‘Barman of the Year’ in Portugal. In that moment, the cocktail scene was growing super-fast in Portugal and was lucky to be one of the faces of that change, together with so many other colleagues that I admire like Paulo Gomes, Sandro Pimenta, Zé Robertson, Emanuel Miñez and a few more great people.
Best cocktail book written?
I’m not a big fan of cocktail’s books … I read a lot, but not only with ‘cocktail focus’. If I need to pick-up something related with our industry, the service industry, I would name and recommend the ‘Be our Guest – Performing the art of customer service’ by Disney Institute itself. Because hospitality is the base of our job.
Best Non-cocktail book you would advise everybody?
‘Death with interruptions’ by the Noble Prized Portuguese writer José Saramago. Simply incredible.
Which cocktail are you most proud of?
More than the cocktail is the concept around it. Was made for a cocktail competition and is called ‘Trilogy’; where I would have 3 kinds of Classic Martinis (Vodka with a Twist, Gin Martini and Dirty Martini) in the same glass.
And which ingredients does it have?
Inside the glass a simple combination of a homemade ‘White Port Vermouth’ and Vodka. And outside the glass is where the magic happens. Three different dusts on the rim, side by side, one made out of Citrus (twist), Olives (dirty) and Juniper Berries (gin). That cocktail gave me the trophy and as prize, I got the opportunity to go to Ibiza for a few days. Not bad at all…
What’s your favourite classic cocktail to drink?
So many hard questions…ah…ah…ah. I can always enjoy a great Sweet Manhattan. And, because I always like to bring some Portuguese with me, I recommend you all to try it with a mid-sweet Madeira wine, instead of vermouth. It’s delicious.
What’s the most easy and tasteful drink to make and enjoy?
I would go with the same answer. Sweet Manhattan.
Favourite glass to drink from?
The one with a tasty drink inside. Ah…ah…ah
Why is a glass that is important for a drink?
Because it is the body of the soul that is the drink. You can use it to shape it, to highlight something, or hide its imperfections.
Glass: Durable or Fragile?
Durable. I’m too clumsy for fragile glassware.
Glass: Classic and simple or outspoken?
Outspoken for sure.
Why have you been traveling lately around the world? What do you hope to learn with these travels?
My goal with these travels is to learn more about different cultures, meet new people and explore new gastronomies.
You are often using the #neverjustcreateinspire. Why?
Because my goal in live isn’t to create something that will turn me into to the best bartender ever, neither to win all the prizes in the world. I want to have a chance to inspire people by making the difference in my community. I want to change people’s lives by sharing with them my experience and make them better professionals and human beings. I want to have this idea shared among a large group of people, so that they can keep going with it and help other people turning our industry, community, country, world a better place to be.
When you finish the traveling, what is the next step?
I have a lot of ideas in my mind, but I don’t know when that time will come.
What style of cocktails you prefer to serve?
It doesn’t really matter to me. That is a time, place and people for everything. More than a style, I like to think about strange combinations and surprise people. But not always, not everywhere, not for everybody.
What type of glassware has your preference?
I like something that can be elegant, simple and outspoken, all together.
Is there any glass style you consider that is missing in the market? Which one and why?
You need to wait for my registration for the next ‘Glassology’. Ah…ah…ah
You often use other type of recipients (not glassware) to make your cocktails. Why?
I always like to develop conceptual drinks/menus. It’s not better or worse than the other styles, is just what I like. So, the recipes, the vessel, the inspiration, the way how is served, everything is part of something bigger and need to make sense all together. That is the reason. Like I said, the body (glass) need to represent the soul (cocktail).
As you know, we have a glassware contest in Onis that you already participate. What is your general opinion about it, since the main purpose is to create your own glass?
I loved it. It’s a fantastic way to invite bartenders to think about different bar’s aspects, that a lot of times we have them for taken and we don’t really believe we can make our own design.
The most underestimated drink in the industry?
Old Fashioned. It’s simple that a lot of bartenders don’t understand its balance and a lot of time taste terrible because there is no focus on its creation.
What’s your guilty pleasure drink?
A delicious Miami Vice toped-up with champagne. You can’t beat that! Ah…ah…ah
Which drink you prefer when not drinking any alcohol?
I drink a lot of tea. Now, in Brazil, I drink a lot of fresh coconut water as well.
Which ingredient will be used far more in the future?
I need to pick an entire category for this answer: Super foods.
How will the current and future trends change the existing bar industry?The awareness of our guests about the problems that the alcohol of poor quality can bring, as well as the consumption of this one in big amounts, are leading the consumers for a different kind of drinking. Less quantities but with more quality.
What’s your opinion on the whole simplicity trend?
It is what it is. In all kinds of arts, we’ve seen this happening. From painting to music and architecture. How should this art form be different? I believe that the most important thing is that everybody finds the style they prefer, learn it, improve it and share it with everybody so we can all grow and learn together
What your favourite bar to visit yourself? Not being one of your own?
I love bars where I can have a nice drink, food and good talk. One of my favourite bars in the world is Tales & Spirits, in Amsterdam. I know, I worked there, and I loved it!
Which restaurant would you recommend to everybody?
I’ll Gallo D’oro in Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal. Was probably the best meal I had this year.
If you could go back in time and change any existing/classic cocktail glass, which glass would you change and why?
I think glass designs have been developed for many, many centuries. A cocktail glass is just a reflection of what generations of people have been using to drink. They’ve been thought for so long… Who am I to change it?
Plus, they’ve been changing year by year, but in the end the essence is always the same.
If you could travel back in time, who would you like to meet and why?
I would love to meet Julio Cesar, the Roman imperator, to have a chance to see next to him a fight at the Colosseum. I know, it wasn’t something pretty, and I’m not a martial art sports guy myself, but I can’t even imagine the energy of that place in a moment like that! Should be surreal.
After simplicity and the non-alcoholic trend, what will be the next big thing?
I think the next trend will be focused on service. How to turn our work more interactive with the guest and really make them be part of the experience.
Best advice you can give to young bartenders?
Don’t be focused in making delicious drinks, learn how to be e good person for your family, friends, colleagues. Learn how to treat and host people and if you work hard the rest will happen to you naturally.