Giorgia Zanzani, Balboa Italian

Bartender of the Month: OCTOBER

Giorgia Zanzani, Balboa Italian

Giorgia is the bar manager for Balboa Italian in Palm Beach, and was a semi-finalist in our Ti Punch Masters cocktail competition. Mauricio spent an afternoon with her, mixing up cocktails & chewing the fat.

Mauricio: You have an impressive love of cocktails. Where does that come from?

Giorgia: Yes I do! I love smelling something and turning that smell into a drink, or looking at a landscape, selecting an ingredient and creating a drink that reflects that. It comes from an interest in chemistry and the magical aspects of liquid and fruits, and playing with sugar. The freedom of tasting something, smelling something, seeing an art work – my mind starts to create something. Even if it does not always work!

M: What has been your bartending background?

G: I started in a little hotel in Italy when I was 18 and then decided that I loved bartending and I moved town to ask the second best bartender in Italy to take me for a trial of 6 months of unpaid work, just to learn. I remember on my first shift he said to me “the last thing that I will teach you is how to make cocktails. That’s easy, you just follow a recipe – everyone can do it. But to let a customer stay for three cocktails – that is what’s hard. I will teach you that. You aren’t there to make people drunk. You have to create something that is so good that they will stay there for hours just to see how you work”.

After those first 6 months I stayed on for another year. Then I decided to swap to a fast-paced venue, a pub where we were serving more than 700pax a day. And even that was really useful for my career. After I moved to Australia I had to start polishing glasses because I didn’t speak English at all. I then decided to attend the European Bartender School in Sydney and that was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. After that I worked in Sydney cocktail bars before moving to the Gold Coast and finally settling as the bar manager at Balboa.

M: What’s your cocktail-making style and favourite cocktail?

G: I call my cocktail making style “the no-style style”. I go with my gut. For me every cocktail has to be like art and touch all your senses: sight, smell, taste and also memories.

“Lady Afternoon Delight” cocktail with Ink Gin, cucumber, lemon, wild tea vodka, homemade rose petal tea and rose petal syrup.

M: What have you been drinking the most lately?

G: Negroni is one of my latest favourites, particularly when it is barrel aged and smoked.

M: I just tried one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had in my life that you made with our Pure Cane. What inspired this cocktail?

G: Thank you! I was eating at a Brazilian restaurant and for dessert I ordered some caramelised pineapple. They served it perfectly gold and crispy and with some rosemary. My mind switched on and I thought about Pure Cane….. and you tasted the result!

M: What is your favourite bar/restaurant on the Gold Coast?

G: Balboa Italian! Of course. And Kiyomi – I love Japanese food and every bite is a dream.

RECIPE: Tropical Smoke

  • 60ml Pure Cane
  • 45 ml caramelised pineapple puree
  • 15 rosemary syrup
  • Lime
  • Mint
  • Rosemary sprig to garnish

Muddle lime wedges in the bottom of a shaker. Add Pure Cane, pineapple puree, syrup and ice – shake hard. with smoky fresh rosemary sprig  and caramelised pineapple.


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