«No more discrimination on «tastes», an interview with La Ragazza che Beve

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Her name is Valentina Crucil, but everyone knows her as “La Ragazza che Beve”, “The Girl Who Drinks”.

«It all started out as a joke», according to her, but she takes it seriously on the Web (featuring a website and an Instagram page). Valentina is a delicate and professional influencer from the world of good drinks, a world of men swirling champagne.

But that’s not all.

She genuinely loves food and wine and has been able to turn her passion for cocktails into a profession in the digital world, creating a Guida ai bar d’Italia (a Guide to Italian bars) that people can easily check from their smartphones. At present, she also works as a consultant for various brands in the industry.

We interviewed Valentina Crucil to hear her unbiased opinion on spirits. An original point of view directly from a true enthusiast.

Valentina, who is La Ragazza che Beve?

“La Ragazza che beve” is a funny and strange name: it was created out of my personal passion and started out as a joke in July 2017. I fully manage this project together with other collaborators who have joined me in this adventure over the past years due to the increasing demand for consultancy. I started by applying skills in Marketing and Digital Marketing, which I acquired when I attended IULM University of Milan, in the growing and very young Bar Industry.

When did this passion for good drinks start?

When I was younger (but I still do it to this day), my parents would take me to different osterie and trattorie (local taverns) in Emilia-Romagna, my home region. That was when my passion for food and wine began and the desire to work in this sector sprang. I put that same fervor in this newer and livelier industry, that of mixology and cocktail bars.

And what do you do at present?

I constantly communicate and interact with users from my website and mobile App La Ragazza che Beve, a Guide to Italian bars, also by curating my social content. I spend most of my time working as a consultant for brands that need to redefine or define their business from scratch if they are just starting out. I can offer business consultancy services thanks to my MBA from Bologna Business School, which trained me to fully handle a managerial role.

The world of spirits is often associated with men: is it hard to be a woman who teaches people (including men) how to “drink?

I’d have to say yes, especially because bartending, in Italy, is oftentimes associated with men. But that’s not the case abroad. There are female bartenders here, but I think they still haven’t been able to find their space; although, I’m sure they are fighting for it every day. However, we cannot say that the world of spirits is exclusively for “men”, because good drinks, like good food, can be appreciated by all and each person has his preferences. Saying that women “only drink sweet or light cocktails” is stereotypical. We are all able to appreciate a good drink and identify its flavors and aromas, the sensations we feel while drinking: all it takes is a little practice in drinking well.

Instagram has exploded with images of food and now the world of spirits is asking for its share. How do you effectively communicate the world of wine & spirit?

As for content, drinks and wine are very similar to food, both in terms of photography (which requires a certain skill to shoot with the right light and convey the true intensity of colors), and storytelling. Wine, drinks and food go hand in hand: I actually have long been waiting for us in Italy to be accustomed to dining with a drink, something to have instead of the classic and more famous glass of wine, or at least be an alternative. The general rules of social media also apply to drinks: we must convey what the target audience (your audience) asks and wants through appealing textual and photographic content. In order to do that, one must use the new tools that Instagram has, which are not that easy to keep up with even as an Instagrammer.

How important is aesthetics in taking pictures of cocktails and wine? What is a follower looking for while browsing your content?

Unfortunately, or fortunately, I think that aesthetics always count. But the most important thing is knowing how to convey a message that wants to be heard. For this reason, it is essential to know how to listen to what followers want, what they really wish to hear and how they need to hear it. I speak for my specific field, and I think that communicating drinks is not easy because the public still keeps a certain distance. The real challenge is in bringing the public closer to bar and mixology culture, one that doesn’t have to be costly but certainly of high quality. This means communicating ideas and content that are not yet part of general culture, but which I hope will be some time in the near future.

If I say Grappa, what comes to your mind?

Honestly, I think of a drink that is not suitable for a younger audience or even for the general public. I imagine a historic product that is drank at the end of a meal by a few “chosen” ones, perhaps because it is a bit more complex. But then, I also think of the numerous attempts, even successful ones, of well-known historic Italian brands that are “revamping” the image of grappa: for example, some are introducing it in mixology. I find this idea an excellent way to reposition grappa in a different market from the one in which it was born many years ago.

Do women really like grappa, or are they just pretending?

I personally like it mixed, since I find it a bit hard to approach a glass of pure grappa: in this second case, I may like it or not. As I said, I believe that there should not be any gender discrimination in terms of one’s tastes regarding alcoholic drinks: every palate is different and is capable of appreciating strong or light flavors and aromas in various ways.

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