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19 Apr 2018 By

There Are Three Great Reasons to Visit Italian Bar Marcello. There’s The Amari Selection. There’s Head Bartender Palmira Bertuca. And Three? Getting Her to Serve You an Amaro Cocktail.

Head bartender Palmira Bertuca comes to Singapore via Italy, London (Punch Room, The London Edition Hotel), Sydney (Bar Macchiavelli) and a short stint at our defunct Cufflink Club.

She now helms Marcello (below), a sultry space inside the InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay that has Southeast Asia’s biggest selection of amari.

Marcello_Interior 2

She’s authentically Italian, and also authentic, always smiling and happy. Must be all that amari in her blood. We managed to settle her down for a quick Q&A.

When’s the best time to drink amaro? And what’s your favourite amaro cocktail?

PB: The best time to drink amaro is now! More and more people are discovering this new product and loving it. Amaro and tonic is the next gin and tonic, especially now that lower ABV cocktail are taking over.

The great thing about amaro is that is can be used in so many different ways, and enjoyed on many occasions! I think a lot of people limit amaro to an after-dinner drink, but in reality, it’s used widely in many different types of cocktails, from light, sparkling drinks to heavier ones. Amaro can also be served straight up or over ice. 

The taste of different amari is much more varied than people realise. Depending on the region where it is produced, amari can have a citrus undertone (commonly from Southern Italy – Vecchio Amaro Del Capo is an example), to having more herbal and floral notes, such as Braulio Amaro Alpino, made high in the peaks of the Alps.

marcello palmira bertuca How do you drink when you travel?

“The best way to explore a new country and culture is to experience their food and drinks. I like to drink tequila in Mexico, wine in Australia, a few pints in London and amaro while in Europe.

“In Singapore I like to experiment and try all the different drinks here. Since the weather is quite hot, I enjoy aperitivo style drinks.. spritzes, Americanos and obviously Amaro & Tonic, although I’ve also discovered teh tarik!”

[ It’s Amaro! Six After Dinner Drinks That Seem to Make You Classy ]


Marcello’s Sbagliato: Campari, vermouth, prosecco. (In Italian, ‘Sbagliato’ actually means mistake, here it’s because the sparkling has replaced the gin – not a Negroni).

What’s the best cocktail for celebration?

The best cocktail for a celebration is definitely the Milano Fizz – it’s made with prosecco (which is, of course, perfect for a celebration!), homemade lemon sherbet, which adds a zesty, fun element to the drink, and Italian bitters!

What do you drink after your shift?

I don’t usually drink after my shift but when I do it will be a beer to cool down before bedtime!

Best hangover cure?

The best hangover cure for me is a Michelada or Bloody Maria, because the spiciness will wake me up, the tomato juice gives me vitamins, and the tequila will cure me..! Delicious.

Marcello_Smoked Black Olive Negroni and Gambero Rosso

Smoked Black Olive Negroni: what it says. Just order it, capisce? The bar also serves a selection of gourmet bar bites, using seasonal Italian ingredients.

Person you would most like to drink with?

Sophia Loren! She’s such an icon for Italian women, and I’d love to ask for some style tips.

What won’t you drink?

I don’t think there is any drink that I wouldn’t try at least once. 

What’s a cocktail/bar trend that needs to stop/that’s overrated?

One thing that is going a little to far for me is that we have started to take ourselves too seriously, and lost a little bit of the fun side of bartending. Our job is to look after our guests and make them feel special (and to forget about the financial crisis!).

Marcelo, 1 Nanson Road, Level 1InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay, tel: 6826-5041.

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