Salvatore Calabrese has announced that he's leaving the Playboy Club London after five years.
'After 50 years in the industry, it's a good time to have a little break, take a rest,' he told Imbibe, insisting it's a 'friendly departure'.
'I truly enjoyed the fact that I had an incredible team. I was, and still am, very proud of them. I’m sorry I have to pull the plug, but I gave it five years. Now it's the right time to do it.'
Writing on his blog, The Maestro said he was ready for 'something different' but was definitely not stopping, hinting at the possibility for a new home for his 'frighteningly strong Direct Martinis [or his] other love, the Negroni'.
First, he's got the opening of a new bar in Hong Kong in April, Maison Eight. Calabrese said it's a 'beautiful space' but also the biggest opening he's ever done, with 360-degree views of Hong Kong and a cocktail menu he's 'really proud of'.
'I have a lot of fun using the culture of the place I am in to create something new,' he added.
Of opening a place in London in the future, Calabrese said, 'It would have to be a standalone, so I can direct my own destiny. That's the best way I can have true control over it.'
During his time with Playboy, Calabrese also opened Bound by Salvatore in Las Vegas, as well as doing varied consultancy work – including with his sons Gerry and Jon Calabrese, who own The Hoxton Pony and the recently-launched Wringer and Mangle.
'I feel like our drinking culture is at something of a crossroads,' he wrote on his website. 'Everyone is drinking less, but hopefully making better choices when they do drink, better informed by the drinking revolution that has occurred. I hope I’ve played a part in that.'
This year also marks Calabrese's 50th year in the industry, after he started work in Italy aged just 11. He moved to the UK in 1980, then worked in various top-end hotels including Dukes Hotel and The Lanesborough, as well as clubs such as 50 St James.
He is the creator of the Breakfast Martini, and has won multiple awards during his bartending career, including Imbibe's Industry Legend Award in 2015.