5 minutes with… Viajante87’s team

Viajante87’s bar director, Pietro Collina, and brand manager, Veronica Di Pietrantonio, discuss the London cocktail bar's ethos, and what drinks they believe are the star of the show

Food and Drink 3 Oct 2023

5 minutes with… Viajante87’s team

What can visitors expect from Viajante87? 

PC: When guests come to Viajante87 they can expect genuine hospitality, delicious drinks focusing on Latin American spirits and traditions, and excellent music that spans the globe, all set in a beautifully designed bar that promotes fun and community spirit.

VDP: Guests should expect good vibes and delicious Latin American-inspired drinks, great music and even better hospitality. Our team is friendly and knowledgeable and takes great care of every guest there.

What inspired you to work at Viajante87?

PC: After visiting the bar, we spotted the potential right away. Its location in the heart of Notting Hill was attractive since most cocktail bars are based in central or east London, so there was a real thirst for something in the neighbourhood. Not only that, the founder, Markus Thesleff, has a very similar mindset in regard to excellence, nurturing staff development, and pushing the norms of what a hospitality group can achieve.

VDP: When we met Markus and saw the space, we realised that it was the perfect place to channel all of our creativity and bring our vision to life. We believed we found a great spot in west London to showcase what we love.

Viajante87 uses offcuts from the Los Mochis kitchen. How does this work?

PC & VDP: We are currently using Granny Smith apple skins to make our apple cordial which is in the Ya Esta cocktail. In addition, we are repurposing fruit and herb cuts from Los Mochis to make daily agua frescas served to guests as a non-alcoholic option.

Pietro Collina and Veronica Di Pietrantonio
Pietro Collina and Veronica Di Pietrantonio

The drinks menu changes seasonally, based on the team’s travels. What are your current favourite drinks served at Viajante87, and what inspired them?

PC: One of the favourites is the Glacier Martini, a gin martini using Apostoles gin from Argentina, Barsol Perfecto Amor from Peru, and Plum I Suppose from Empirical Spirits. This is all combined with adding a drop of glycerine to allow us to store the diluted martini in the freezer at -20 degrees without freezing. We like to think it’s one of the coldest martinis in London. We are also very proud of the Vino Tropical, a cocktail that drinks like an off-dry champagne using chardonnay from the Ica Valley in Peru, kiwi cordial, and jasmine tea.

VDP: For me, the non-alcoholic drinks are incredible. Coco Limón (coconut cream, lime, ginger, and soda) is inspired by a drink we saw (and drank) a lot during our trip to Colombia. The flavours are so complex, yet so easy to drink, so the guests who choose not to consume alcohol don’t have to miss out on taste or the experience. Another favourite is the Puerto de Pisco, a low-ABV highball, which mixes Barsol Quebranta Pisco, Palo Santo, bergamot and tonic, refreshing and light.

What are the most important traits of a bartender for you?

PC: Hospitality is the trait we consider a non-negotiable. It is the job of a bartender to listen to their guest, suggest drinks on or off the menu, and really guide our guests through the experience. People might forget what they drank at a bar, but they won’t forget how they felt.

VDP: Be willing to make people happy and create the best vibe for them in order to have a great experience. People just want to have a great time, and we have to remember that it’s not always about our specific cocktails.

What do you think of the London cocktail bar and restaurant scene?

PC: London is one of the best cities for bars and restaurants, without a doubt. It has really carved itself as a leader when it comes to cocktail bars and pushing the boundaries of what can be done in a glass. Some of my favourite places are Tayer + Elementary, Amaro and Lyaness.

VDP: I think London has always been ahead of the curve, as it is a mix of many cultures, traditions, techniques and talents. Post-Covid, the city has really stepped up, and many new places have opened with loads of exciting inspirations. If I want drinks that I know will blow my mind, I go to Lyaness, if I feel like really being taken care of, I choose The Connaught. For great clean drinks with spotless service, Amaro. One of our favourite restaurants at the moment is Llewellyn’s in Herne Hill: great food, good service, with neighbourhood vibes.

The drinks menu changes seasonally, based on the team’s travels
The drinks menu changes seasonally, based on the team’s travels

You were both ranked in the World’s 50 Best list. What is your secret to success within the hospitality industry?

PC: Quality, consistency, and community outreach are really important if you want to stand out from the crowd. The quality of our overall program can be determined by having a thoughtful menu mix, showing premium spirits, and utilising fresh produce with clear, concise ideas behind each drink. Consistency will determine that everyone will be presented with a similar product and there is no difference depending on the day or time of service. Finally, the bar community is a small microcosm, and it is important not only to participate but also to contribute by hosting international friends, participating in panel discussions, and really mentoring the next generation.

VDP: To have a great team is key. A bar is made by the people who run it, and I think having a close relationship with your colleagues is key. Having a strong identity is also very important, which includes the style of the drinks, music and service, and making sure it’s consistent. It is extremely important to want to be inspired by other people in the industry, and their bars, while also trying to inspire them.

Who is your role model and how have they influenced your work?

PC: Rick Rubin, the record producer, is a real influence on my creative process. I have been following him since a young age and admire his ability to work with many different styles of artists and create an environment that forces people to carve a new path. With his new book, The Creative Act, he has helped me to rethink my ideation process when writing a menu, and to pursue collaboration in a much more productive manner.

VDP: I wouldn’t say I have one specific role model that inspires me, but there are many people I look up to. My previous managers at Shangri-La and One Aldwych (Fabio Dal Bosco and Pedro Paulo) have taught me the importance of detail-oriented service, always working ‘in the background’ while making sure guests had a great time. When I joined the Lyan company, working with James Wheeler and Alex Lawrence gave me a chance to understand that working in a high-volume bar doesn’t mean standards should be dropped, and gave me knowledge on how to oversee a bigger team, while having a great time during service, and how to inspire different bartenders with our work.

How do you like to spend your free time?

PC: We love to check out new restaurants and bars in the city and I also spend time in my local Brixton market to discover new ingredients.

VDP: If I’m not dining out with Pietro or having drinks with friends, I love to spend time at our local Brockwell Park, growing food plants in our garden or reading a good book.

What’s next for Viajante87?

PC: We believe this is just the beginning for Viajante87 and we are excited to introduce new flavours to our guests while also providing a home for all local Notting Hill residents. We have many exciting events planned for next year which will bring bars and restaurants from Latin America to come and showcase their ingredients and really celebrate their traditions.

VDP: Hosting our Latin American friends is exciting for me! Giving back the love to a community that has opened their arms and shown us around their countries, and having them here to showcase what we created with the flavours they introduced us to. Also, connecting with the local community, consumers and industry is something that we are looking forward to.


87 Notting Hill Gate, London W11 3JZ; https://www.viajantebar.com