Cocktails and more with Marco Dongi, bar manager of Bar Sathorn

Cocktails and more with Marco Dongi, bar manager of Bar Sathorn

Marco Dongi is well versed in the art of cocktail making. Born and raised in Milan, he has traveled the world and collaborated with esteemed chefs. Today, he is bar manager of Bar Sathorn, The House of Sathorn. 


What are the top cocktail trends for 2024?

In 2024, emerging trends point toward highball-style cocktails and savory flavor profiles. Furthermore, highball style refers to a genre of cocktails typically consisting of a base spirit and a larger proportion of a non-alcoholic mixer. Consequently, this results in a lighter and more refreshing drink. Additionally, savory cocktails incorporate ingredients like vinegar, brine, salty elements and fermentation processes to create complex and unconventional flavor profiles.

These trends reflect an evolving taste for lighter, more nuanced drinks and innovative flavor combinations while challenging traditional notions of cocktail craftsmanship and taste experiences.

 How do your cocktails draw inspiration from your personal experiences and travels?

The cultural, culinary and historical influences encountered during my journeys are reflected in the cocktails I craft. Moreover, I incorporate exotic ingredients discovered during my travels. For example, I use local fruits, aromatic herbs or unique spices to add complexity and authenticity to my drinks. In addition, the mixing traditions and practices I’ve learned across different parts of the world have shaped my approach to cocktail creation; every journey and experience enriches my knowledge.

How do you incorporate unique ingredients or flavors into your cocktails that reflect a particular place or culture from your journeys?

I love infusing each drink with the flavors and vibes of the places I’ve visited or where I’ve lived. Moreover, it’s like bringing a piece of those incredible experiences right to the glass. Before mixing up anything, I dive into research. I also explore the local ingredients, culinary traditions and cultural nuances that make each destination unique. Furthermore, it’s all about selecting the perfect ingredients that capture the essence of that particular place or culture. In the next step, mixing them together is where the magic happens. I aim to create a sip that’s not just well balanced but also feels like a little adventure in every taste. Ultimately, it’s all about sharing stories and spreading the joy of discovery, one cocktail at a time. Additionally I like to give people the chance to discover new flavors and travel with their minds.

Considering your expertise, how do you adapt your mixology style to complement the ambience and concept of different venues where you work or collaborate?

In my job, I tailor my style to seamlessly blend with the ambience and concept of each venue I work with. First and foremost, understanding the atmosphere, theme and clientele of the bar is key. By doing so, this allows me to create cocktails perfectly suited to the environment. Following this approach, I then develop a customized cocktail menu that reflects the venue’s style and concept, whether it’s classic and refined for an elegant setting or bold and innovative for a trendy bar. Furthermore, I incorporate local, seasonal ingredients to seamlessly integrate with the geographical and cultural context while maintaining one’s own mixing style that reflects their vision and concept.

What differences have you observed in the taste preferences of clients in Dubai and Bangkok?

Having worked and lived in Dubai, where I’ve become familiar with a refined and curious clientele, it’s worth noting that the palates of people in Dubai and Bangkok are actually quite similar. In both locations, clients enjoy refreshing cocktails and aren’t afraid to try new flavors. Notably, there are many non-alcohol consumers in Dubai. Consequently, I have always enjoyed making mocktails that excite a non-alcohol audience. On the other hand, spicy cocktails are always popular in Bangkok, but perhaps in Dubai not so much. However, it’s the refreshing ones that always do best in Dubai.

Reflecting on my experience in Dubai, I have endeavored to export Thai culture and flavors through simple, clean and modern cocktails. This involves introducing new elements and combinations regularly served at my bar in Bangkok.

How do you evaluate the beverage scene in Dubai? 

In Dubai’s thriving mixology scene, when traveling, I aim to export Thai flavors and combinations through my unique cocktail vision. A crucial aspect of our work is to be unique through personality and mixing style. Therefore, it is essential to maintain uniqueness in every creation. Having observed the trends in Dubai, I think people are looking for quality. This is why the collaboration with Blind Tiger was perfect for me. The attention to detail in everything they do perfectly matches my way of cocktail making.


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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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