If you've sipped a hand-crafted cocktail at Tampa Bay's hippest watering holes, chances are good that Ro Patel developed the drink you enjoyed. The master mixologist has made a name for himself as a king of local bar culture as the founding drink designer for Ciro's, Franklin Manor and as the owner of The Collection at the Hall on Franklin. Learn more about Ro Patel and his approach to cocktails in "Tampa With A Twist," the area's new cocktail guide.
Where do you work? The Collection bar @ The Hall on Franklin
What do you do there? Operating Partner
Where are you from? London, England
Who’s your hero and why? My Hero? One actually comes to mind...my Mum. Think Muhammad Ali and Bruce Lee, I think they all challenged the Status Quo. To take fearless choices, brave decision, courageous actions one at a time. To turn hard times into adventures, risk to reward, transforming challenges into exploration and fear into determination.
Muhammed Ali and Bruce Lee? She sounds like quite a fighter.
She is quite the fighter for sure: Moving to London from Bombay in the 1960’s, overcoming many obstacles to start a career as a nurse and having 3 kids along the way. Then, later, finding out she has crippling arthritis in her 40s and becoming bed-ridden. She said she couldn’t feel sorry for herself for long and found that she had to raise us kids. And a decade later, with her strength back, opened and ran 2 thriving bakeries and a catering business. She learned how to drive in her 50’s, loved to travel and visited all the continents at a time when a single Indian woman was supposed to stay at home and accept life.
She taught me that boundaries and -- what’s possible -- are only in our own imaginations.
What do you do for fun or hobby? The kids and I just got a 8 week old kitten so I race home to play endlessly with her.
What do you like about about your job? The job of bartenders is to create a cocktail party everyday and sometimes it might turn into a bacanal. After two decades behind the stick I’ve come to appreciate all aspects of it especially the hosting part. I’m very grateful I found my passion early in life and lived it every day.
How would your life be different without tourism? It’s odd to think about tourism and travelers not being around for me. I look forward to having new people visiting and discovering the cool stuff we have on our doorstep.
What’s something people don’t know about your job? It might be missed or overlooked that the bartender should always be present and in the moment. Ready to introduce guests and drinks to one another effortlessly.
What’s the funniest thing that has happened to you on the job? Back in London, at Home House, I was serving a beautifully dressed group of eight in ball gowns and tuxedos, they all looked amazing sitting around the table. I was popping open a bottle of champagne table-side and somehow the pressure of the cork pushed the bottle free of my hands and under the table! I actually froze and everything slowed down, I watched this champagne spinning out of control, spraying everyone like a firehose as it made circles on the floor. The guests couldn’t move as they were wedged in their seats, only jumping up in turn like a wave. I felt like this took an eternity to finish and the bottle was never ending! But it did and I offered my sincere apology saying I’d take care of there dry cleaning bills. They saw the fun side lucky.
What do you recommend your visitors do for fun when they come to Tampa Bay? The Tampa Riverwalk at dusk is a must, stopping by Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and walking over the Kennedy Boulevard bridge to Mise En Place for dinner. Or if you are a little more pressed for time take a scooter around town and discover Hyde Park to Ybor in a day!