Mahesh Madhavan’s dining boltholes

The CEO of Bacardi reveals his favourite wining and dining destinations, from a Peruvian restaurant in the City of London to a glittering mirror palace in Udaipur

Mahesh Madhavan at Sul Verde in Rosewood Bermuda
Mahesh Madhavan at Sul Verde in Rosewood Bermuda | Image: Nhuri Bashir

“As I’m in the spirits industry, a great deal of my business is done outside the boardroom and involves eating and drinking. In India, where I come from, there is a saying ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’, which roughly translates as ‘Treat your guests like God’. I apply this principle when entertaining our investors, board members and employees.

I travel extensively, meeting with our teams across the world, our customers and our retail partners. I’ll often hold team dinners for 20 or so people, followed by visits to various bars to check out the local scene. When I’m at home in Bermuda, however, my days are very different: I don’t do breakfast meetings, because I like to meditate and exercise before being in the office and connecting with my team. But I do host many lunches and dinners for our heads from around the world, as well as for our distributors.

Bermuda has some wonderful restaurants and Sul Verde at Rosewood Bermuda is one of my favourites – people appreciate the natural beauty and sea breeze while eating on the veranda. Another go-to is Ruby Murry’s, which serves the best Indian food on the island. It recently catered an impromptu dinner of lentils, buttered chicken and lamb for 150 Bacardi leaders from more than 20 countries on my back lawn, and with less than 24 hours’ notice.

We serve lunch in our offices for everyone, every day, as the company has done for over 150 years, but on the rare occasions I go out, I’ll head to chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Marcus at the Hamilton Princess. It’s nearby, the MaMa K’s fish sandwich is delicious and you’re in and out in under an hour. The Mid Ocean Club is another place I like to entertain employees and their families for casual dinners of grilled local wahoo and burgers.

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I spend a lot of time in Europe – in London in particular. Coya, in the City, is great for ceviche and Peruvian cocktails with partners. We work closely with Soho House, so I like to do dinners there so that I can chat with the bartenders – and the customers – to thank them and get feedback. I recently had a memorable business dinner in Dublin at the Michelin- starred Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud with Stephen and Jack Teeling of Teeling Whiskey, in which we have a minority stake. The brothers orchestrated a bespoke evening where the chef paired each course with a different Teeling whiskey.

The US, of course, is very important for us and I spend a lot of time at our offices in Miami. Cantina La 20 does excellent margaritas, guacamole and sopes con pollo – and the festive atmosphere makes for a great business dinner. Zuma is also good for dinners with potential partners, and the marinated black cod and rock shrimp with lime mayonnaise are crowd-pleasers.

In Asia, and especially in Japan, Thailand and India, sharing dishes lends a sense of oneness and family to the occasion. On a recent trip to India, I brought Wayne Chaplin, president and CEO of our largest US distributor, Southern Glazer, and Pete Carr, president of our North America operations. We ate a traditional meal of laal maas, a Rajasthani mutton dish that’s very spicy, at the Sheesh Mahal – or “mirror palace” – in Udaipur. I think when you give people a glimpse into your culture, your home and your beliefs, you build partnerships for the long-term.”

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