We catch up with Renzo Vivona from La Ochava bar, in Montevideo, Uruguay and find out how they are maximising on the recent resurgence of cocktail culture by using premium products.

It is often said that the Uruguayan public has a hard time trying new things. Does this also apply to cocktails?

Uruguayans in general are not very keen on trying different things. It’s a classical audience that usually sticks with whisky and beer, but luckily we have found that the Uruguayan public are warming up to the idea of trying new drinks, specifically cocktails. In the last few years there has been a resurgence of cocktails thanks to the support of bars that include an attractive variety of drinks in their menus.

How would you describe La Ochava bar?

La Ochava is a friend’s bar, because all of the owners, myself included, are bonded by a relationship of friendship. We want our customers to feel at home and sense that feeling of fraternity we have amongst ourselves.

Tell us about the La Ochava staff?

Álvaro Pereira and Federico Garcia are the figureheads of La Ochava. They’ve been part of the cocktailing world for over 10 years. Federico owned a bartending school where he taught the profession and Álvaro has international experience and has worked in Europe and applies all his know-how in the bar. Finally there is me, I take my learnings from working nationally and internationally and aim to bring this experience into the bar.

What is your signature cocktail?

Luckily we have a great variety of cocktails, but if you are a guest in La Ochava for the first time you have to try the house special “La Gran Manzana” (The Big Apple). It’s a mix of JOHNNIE WALKER™ BLACK LABEL® and dry vermouth with two ingredients prepared in house: a cardamom syrup and an apple syrup (sweet vinaigrette), topped off with lime.

When is the best time to enjoy “The Big Apple”?

That’s a good question… I’d say it’s suitable to be enjoyed at any time. So ideally it should be enjoyed with a dessert. We decorate the cocktail with a toffee apple.

What makes this cocktail so special?

Mostly it’s the ingredients. The premium products we use in the bar are essential in order to make the drinks special. Using premium products, such as Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky, help to ensure quality with all our serves.

Why do you think it’s important to use premium products?

Working with products of excellent quality, together with the experience and knowledge necessary to create a great drink, will result in the cocktail not only looking more appealing to the eye, but it will also taste a lot better. Using more premium products gives the cocktail a distinct personality and ensures the best quality result. To give our guests the best possible experience we need to ensure we serve the best premium products!

Why do the drinks taste best in La Ochava?

The thing that makes enjoying drinks in La Ochava so special is a mix of things. From the exquisite cocktail recipes to the ambience and energy of the place to the experience of watching us create the drinks with passion – this makes it so much more special to enjoying cocktails at home!

We like to follow the policy it’s not about preparing a cocktail because you have to, it’s about preparing a cocktail because you love to – this is what makes the difference!

What do you think of drinks and products that people think are “unmixable”?

I think it’s a myth. For example, the argument behind not wanting to mix Johnnie Walker Black Label in a cocktail – because it’s a premium product – is not a valid reason not to do so. Not that long ago most bartenders had that idea, that principle, written in stone in our heads but, luckily, that has changed.

(*One standard drink contains 8g of alcohol)

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