Giovanni Graziadei of Jigger & Pony, one of the best cocktail bars in Asia, shows that class is more than meets the eye

jigger & pony

In One For The Road, we speak with the best bartenders and get to know them better. Here, Giovanni Graziadei, principal bartender at Jigger & Pony, tells us more about true luxury, his backstory and his version of the martini

jigger & pony
Jigger & Pony

“To me, true luxury is not something that will impress you at first sight,” said Giovanni Graziadei, principal bartender at Jigger & Pony, currently Asia’s second-best bar. “To me, it’s when you realise something has been very well thought out. There’s a lot of attention to detail, and care was taken.”

Graziadei is a reserved Italian – take your time to digest that – and he’s rather modest about his talents. From developing a “talent in eating” into a life skill to having to work very hard on his social skills to entertain his guests, you get a sense he has a penchant for understatement; a trait he attributes to his Turin roots. “Quite English in a way,” he mused.

What he has over the English, however, is the sprawling splendour of the Alps; a sight he misses waking up to, along with the comforts of home. But restlessness often gets the better of him, and rather quickly at that. Turin’s loss is Singapore’s gain, though that might not have come to pass had Graziadei decided not to drop out of university and move to London.

jigger & pony
Giovanni Graziadei, principal bartender at Jigger & Pony. Photo by Studio Daydream

While pursuing high education, he developed a fascination for spirits while working at a bar. It coincided with a growing dissatisfaction with his grades and Graziadei decided that he had to focus.” If I keep doing university like this I’m not going to get high scores, so what’s the point,” he recalled. “That’s when I realised I’d rather just follow my passion for bartending.”

Throughout his career, he learnt that while mastery over craft and conversation are crucial ingredients to deliver memorable experiences – it’s not enough just to serve the best drinks. “When I think about my most memorable restaurant experiences, most of the time I realise that half of it was about whom I was with. I think you cannot separate the human element from the connection with what’s in the glass or what’s on the plate,” he explained.

Graziadei pointed out that this extended to his creative process too: the final product that makes it on the menu is never entirely his initial idea. “I have something that I thought was ‘me’ in a glass, but then, it’s always a team effort. I think it’s quite representative of life as well,” he mused.

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The Tuxedo, Graziadei’s take on a martini. Photo by Studio Daydream

To taste Tuxedo, therefore, is the luxury of experiencing the depth of Graziadei’s unrelenting self-improvement and shared experiences. At a glance, his creation is unmistakeably a martini. It doesn’t scream out for attention, but there’s far more to it than the eye alone can perceive. It is the bar’s take on the classic. “We kind of summed up a few of the different ways this drink has been made throughout history into one drink,” he explained. It’s a dry gin with dry vermouth, sherry, maraschino liqueur and a bit of absinthe.

The result is a dry concoction that has ‘the DNA of a martini’, and in Graziadei’s mind, fits with the style of cocktails at Jigger and Pony: classics, dry, and strong on the booze. “In cocktails, when you think Tuxedo, you think something quite luxurious and classy. And I think it’s one of those drinks where the flavour matches the name.”

By Giovanni Graziadei

40ml Tanqueray Nº10
10ml Lustau Fino Sherry
10ml Dolin Dry Vermouth
2.5ml Luxardo Maraschino
2 dashes absinthe

Stir and serve in a martini glass, garnish with a lemon peel.

Jigger & Pony
165 Tanjong Pagar Road
Amara Hotel
Singapore 088539
Tel: +65 9621 1074

This story was first published in the June 2021 issue, which you may purchase as a hard or digital copy