Exclusive interview with STEFANO DI DIO, founder of OSCAR.697, which produces three types of Vermouth, distributed in Italy by Rinaldi 1957.
A singular enterpreneur, for three excellent products. A character who intrigued us and pushed us to want to know more about his history and his Vermouths. Once again, we must thank our friend Carlo Dutto for making this interview, exclusively for iBESTmag ,possible.
Before going ahead with the interview, however, we want not only to remember (as always) to drink in moderation and not to drive after drinking, but we allow ourselves to make an appeal precisely to those consumers of cocktails / drinks to whom these articles of our mixology sector are addressed: given the current pandemic situation in fact, IT’S MANDATORY to respect the rules of SOCIAL DISTANCING (in addition to those of civilian life, avoiding to abandon waste on the streets) in meeting places and in particular in those where the “nightlife” takes place. The health of us all, in fact, also depends on the individual behavior of the individual … and therefore on that of each of us!
Good morning Stefano and thank you for this interview!
Q) Who is Stefano Di Dio? What’s your history?
A) Born in 1976, I am a “Milanese” born and raised in Milan. Smart Casual. All my macro-experiences (the degree in moral philosophy, the passion for extreme sports and the career in the world of alcohol) seem apparently very disconnected from each other. However, if I look back, my life path (private and working) has a very specific meaning. Everything I have done and what has happened to me has served to take a step forward. To grow. I have learned many things, I am learning many things, some I share them and some do not, but I am learning. This is perhaps the best teaching that the study of philosophy has given me. Learning has no limits. The truth is that I never really planned my life, I always lived the experiences for what they were, without ulterior motives or set goals, almost as a spectator of myself. Right or wrong it is, all this has led me to be what I am today, as a man and as an entrepreneur. The entrepreneurial challenge of OSCAR.697 is the first real totalizing experience in which I must necessarily think of a wider range on all fronts. I am also learning here and I love it. Very much!
Q) Why “invent” a Vermouth? How was OSCAR.697 born and what are the three types of product?
A) In 2012, after a decade of experience in the world of alcohol at an international level for innovative companies such as Diageo, Sagatiba Cachaça and Allegrini Estates, I decided to open my own business by maximizing all the experience accumulated over the years. It wasn’t a leap in the dark, far from it. Thanks to the data available, I studied and re-studied the feasibility not so much of the business, as of the content, of the object. And suddenly, the fateful Vermouth box opened up to me: an Italian product still consumed in large quantities especially in mixing and appanage of only a few well-known brands in the world. Here is OSCAR.697, the contemporary Vermouth produced with love in Italy. OSCAR.697 is a decidedly contemporary, urban, metropolitan Vermouth, a product of the Italian tradition seen and interpreted through the eyes of an entrepreneur who is experiencing the third millennium. This is the philosophy behind OSCAR.697: “To innovate means for us to respect tradition and aspire to be part of it in the future”. In other words, as you can also see on our official website www.oscar697.com “love the past, invent the future”. OSCAR.697 Rosso, Bianco & Extra Dry are the 3 vermouths available today in the best Italian and international cocktail bars. Technically Vermouth is a flavored and fortified wine, it is not a liqueur, therefore the alcohol content is relatively low, 16 degrees in the case of OSCAR.697. Rhubarb and licorice are the botanicals that characterize OSCAR.697 Rosso, while elderflower and black pepper are the ingredients that identify OSCAR.697 Bianco. Both perfect as an aperitif, they are excellent both served alone and used as ingredients for many cocktails. OSCAR.697 Extra Dry is the perfect travel companion for all lovers of the iconic Dry Martini Cocktail, both gin and vodka based.
A) I am absolutely convinced that I have a Vermouth of excellent quality, with a precise identity. OSCAR.697 is a historic Vermouth from Turin that has the superb vision of wanting to innovate a category historically linked to the clichés of the past. The consumer will decide what to buy or which brand to adopt. It is enough to have a lot of patience, a lot of tenacity, but above all a lot of consistency in pursuing one’s vision. And a lot of clarity in knowing how to build your own image day by day without ever losing sight of the goal you have set yourself and above all the identity you want to aspire to. So Far so Good, as they say in politically correct living rooms. We are present today in 14 countries around the world with a particular focus on Italy, the United States and Australia. Actually, we’ve a concrete ambition for Asian markets in the near future. We grow year by year in double figures, which means that in addition to myself, someone is drinking our Vermouth somewhere in the world and maybe he is recommending it right now to his friends or colleagues. Vermouth is a serious and noble ingredient for many classic cocktails, heavily used. Our entire commercial distribution strategy is based on this assumption.
Q) During the quarantine, did you invent an initiative that was not only marketing, but revealed the idea of a ‘community’ around your product, can you tell us about it? And what other surprises do you have in store?
A) Our Secret Club #STAYATHOME. After about a month of introspection and physical apathy, in mid-April I realized that many people like me no longer had the opportunity to enjoy excellent products, excellent cocktails or more simply moments of well-deserved relaxation resting on the counters of their favorite bars because we were all under severe lockdown. I therefore decided to write to about fifty of my “friends” contacts in the address book, proposing them to receive one of my thoughts at home, the Aperitivo Emergency Pack that I had created specifically to spend a few minutes of serenity virtually together. They all unexpectedly replied in less than 24 hours and therefore what was my virtual embrace as an end in itself has evolved into a real Secret Club where all members have the opportunity to play with our products on one hand thanks on special sales conditions and on the other hand, what I care about most, have the opportunity to meet new places, new professionals from our industry and beyond, with whom I hope they can share the same passions and why not expand their personal projects . My newsletters are in a sense the cross-sections of my bar life. I discovered that I have many curiosities and many funny episodes to tell about every single bar I visited during all my travels around the world. And it is another peculiarity that until recently I underestimated or worse I had taken it for granted. I don’t hide that from the “game” level we are now at a “serious” level and that I am already working on phase 3. The Secret Club has the ambition to become a point of reference for all those people who live life with a certain style , precise and relaxed at the same time, regardless of what they do and what they say. I am therefore working first of all on the first real appointment for all Club members and side by side to increase the services offered that always fall within the lifestyle experience that OSCAR.697 represents, beyond the vermouth object itself.
Q) A difficult but necessary question to ask in this period: how to start again after the period of forced interruption, both as a company and as a world of mixology in general?
A) We love the past. We invent the future. What was there before should be remembered, but it should not be regretted. Reinventiamoci. By staying ourselves. Then to each one the execution of this vision that has accompanied me unceasingly since the day I founded OSCAR. 697. I am already working hard for the future by living the present. I can’t wait to give you new updates in due time because there are many projects on the desk and they are very cool.
We recommend that you always drink alcohol in moderation and above all, do not drive after doing it.
Interview © iBESTmag – Images courtesy of Carlo Dutto – Reproduction Forbidden