10 months ago

A Tribute to the Great Dré Masso: Celebrating 30 Years Behind the Bar

Dré Masso, Co-creator and Global Ambassador of Altos tequila, is a bright star in the hospo industry, shining with a light uniquely his own. Surely you have had the great fortune of sharing memorable moments with him at Tahona Society events throughout the years. This month, we celebrate his 30-year career. 

The Tahona Society Editorial Team chatted with Dré about his beginnings when he was just a teenager, his first big mistake behind the bar, and about a few of the celebrities he has had the chance to meet. This is the story of the great Dré!

TS: Why did you become a bartender? 

DM: I grew up in London. My mom was a nanny and also worked in restaurants. I used to go with her and became familiar with chefs, bartenders, managers and that whole environment. It wasn’t a planned career to become a bartender.  

TS: Where and when was your first job as a bartender? 

DM: I was 15 when I started to work in one of the places where my mom was working. It was a private members club and I worked weekends and holidays with really simple tasks like cleaning glasses and serving dishes to tables. When I went to college at 17, I worked at a cocktail bar – but not serving drinks until I was 18. It was a first-rate cocktail bar and introduced me to the crafting of cocktails. After college I wanted to explore this world more and went to Soho London in search of a good place to learn and grow my new aspiration. 

“The place that really triggered my interest was a venue in Piccadilly London called Atlantic Bar and Grill. It had a private bar called Dick’s Bar and I started working there in 1995. It was a popular spot during the 90s and it was one of the first late night quality style bars. The Atlantic Bar and Grill had a great education program and I was trained to really high standards; they had a very extensive cocktail list. I was working with other bartenders … traveled the world. This experience opened my eyes to what this industry could be.”

TS: During your 30 years bartending have you met anyone famous, like singers or movie stars or athletes?  If so, where and what did you prepare for them? 

DM: During the 90s, Madonna recorded one of her famous videos in the Atlantic Bar and Grill. We had a list of celebrities that visited us like the singer Lionel Richie , the basketball player John Collins, The Spice Girls , David Beckham, the soccer player Éric Cantona and Robert De Niro.

I remember that Robert De Niro used to enjoy gimlets and martinis and once said to one of my colleagues that he was doing a job very similar to what an actor does – preparing, rehearsing, repeating the same thing over and over again until perfection is achieved. It was a sweet comment. 

“Another magic moment was when Bill Murray came to Dick’s Bar. I was the head bartender and he ordered a bottle of Champagne Laurent Perrier Cuvee Rose, a bottle of Hennessy, Angostura bitters, sugar and a dozen champagne flutes. He proceeded to make champagne cocktails for his team, friends and also the bartenders.”

TS: What was your first mistake behind the bar and what did you learn from it?

DM: During the time I was working in Dick’s Bar, there was a regular costumer that would go through the cocktail menu looking for new creations and we had this smoothie martini. It had raspberries, yogurt and vodka. It was delicious! But I made the faux pas of handling the shaker incorrectly and the shaker opened up and the smoothie martini went all over this costumer who was very elegantly dressed in an immaculate suit. One of the things that I learned that day was that the direction of the larger tin should face the bartender because if it ever opens up you are going to spill it all over yourself instead of your guest. At the Atlantic we treated our customers in a very special way so we immediately offered a laundry service and obviously comped his drinks.