Mai Più: Where the Spirit of Izola Escaped from the Bottle


We had the pleasure of speaking with Alen Antolovič, the bar's manager, who proudly identifies himself as a local from Izola first and foremost, followed by his roles as a husband, friend, and team leader. He says this half-jokingly but his sentiments hold a hint of sincerity. The affection for Izola permeates every corner of the place, and its warm, relaxed ambiance consistently draws guests back.

How would you describe the concept and the atmosphere of this unique place with the intriguing name: Mai Più?

For those who know me, it’s no secret that I’ve always been an enthusiast and advocate for bars with distinct concepts – places that have “something more”, a soul, one might say.

The phrase Mai più carries meaning: it speaks of nostalgia, of Izola. Let’s just say that I’m a loyal resident or faithful to Izola. I’ve always dreamt of creating a place inspired by the town and, of course, it’s inhabitants, the people of Izola.

How does Mai Più connect to the history and spirit of Izola? Is it reflected in the offer itself or just in the atmosphere?

I believe that the furnishings and decor in the bar play a significant role. Incorporating elements such as old wood and fishing equipment into the interior, along with showcasing old postcards of Izola and the jerseys of local athletes, I have created a cosy and inviting space for both locals and other guests who visit us.

»Comfortable, relaxing and free from modern trivialities. That was the basic idea behind the place.«

What do you think are the most outstanding artefacts or stories that guests can experience and feel in the bar?

Choosing the most outstanding artefact is difficult – each of them carries its own particular story. People from Izola regularly bring objects that have a connection to Izola. This includes many things: fishing and sporting equipment, photographs that we display on the TV screen, bringing back stories of Izola. But if I had to make a choice, I would point out Enzo Hrovatin's guitar and the football from the legendary Izola – Benfica match.

Who are your guests? Are they mainly locals or also tourists and other visitors? Who's your “target audience”?

We welcome everyone, but I particularly appreciate guests who bring positive energy and respect our staff, the bar, other guests and Izola itself. It's hard to pinpoint a target audience. Our days are quite long, starting with locals such as employees from the local utility company, postmen, craftsmen, and seniors enjoying their morning coffee. During the day, we host many business meetings and gatherings among friends. However, the evenings hold a special charm and are my personal favourite. That's when we get another type of guests – workers from restaurants and other bars who come in for their last drink of the day. I enjoy chatting with them about their day and experiences. At Mai Più, we treat all our guests equally, offering them our time and engaging in conversation whenever possible.

»We, the people of Izola, are a special “breed”: we’re as sweet as a pie, but we’re also an odd bunch – in both good and bad ways. Patience is key, because resentment can arise easily. We try to make the atmosphere in the bar pleasant for everyone.«

Sounds like you have a wonderfully diverse guests! How do you accommodate all these profiles? What sets Mai Più apart and makes it unique?

We are constantly following what's on the market and striving to be different from the rest. We offer a wide range of gins and rums, which we regularly update with new variants. In winter, we add various hot drinks. Music is also very important: our repertoire spans a wide range of genres, and everyone can find a song or tune that resonates with them and evokes nostalgic memories.  

The name of the place, Mai Più, holds a nostalgic significance indeed. "Never again" in Italian, is an interesting choice. What led you to choose this name?

Actually, the name was already established when I took over nine years ago. I made the decision to keep it because, for the locals in Izola, this establishment has always been known as Mai Più. Given that the Slovenian and Italian languages are intertwined in this region, the name holds a special resonance. It's a phrase that embodies the sentiment of the good old days—a time that can never be relived but is still felt here in a unique way.

»Today's fast-paced life unfortunately often deprives us of socialising, so it's importand and right to make time for relaxed moments with friends.«

Let's circle back to the offer itself. You mentioned the special gin and tonics, cocktails, excellent range of rums. How do your drinks complement the unique atmosphere of the bar?

Here, guests can enjoy a pleasant ambiance accompanied by soft music. The lighting is thoughtfully adjusted according to the time of day. Our outdoor terrace serves as an oasis of tranquility and warmth. As mentioned earlier, we have a diverse selection of high-quality drinks and cocktails. Our wine list exclusively features local wines. This isn't a spot for just drinking; it's where we truly savor every moment.

How do you choose the ingredients for, say, gin and tonics? Do you include local flavors? Which drink is the best-seller?

It’s a bit tough to pinpoint the top seller because it changes with the seasons. But, we’re big on gin and tonics, especially the natural herbs we put in them. We don’t add any sweet syrups. The global trend in mixing drinks also favors natural ingredients, which we gladly welcome and follow. People have different tastes, but I would highlight the unique flavor of Aromatico gin and tonic. We enhance it with a variety of herbs from our garden, including basil, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. It's a genuine Mediterranean cocktail experience.

Your selection of rums is also pretty impressive. Why did you decide to focus on this particular drink?

Our journey with rum started about five years ago. Our initial goal was to introduce it to our guests and begin serving it. Fast forward to today, and we offer rums from all around the world, with Caribbean and South American varieties proving to be the most popular. We're always thrilled when someone brings us a bottle of rum as a gift from their travels. Now, we're quite knowledgeable about this type of drink, and the rum-drinking culture is thriving, so we know our stuff.

There's a really nice collection of vinyl records in the bar. You've already mentioned that music is important to you. What role does it play in creating the atmosphere and how do you choose the playlists?

Music is the best – as Zappa would say, and I totally agree with him. Music means a lot to me and accompanies me everywhere: at home, in the car, at work, with friends. I've been an audiophile and a vinyl collector since I was fifteen. Our guests appreciate good music, and I believe it's one of the reasons why many people come here. On special occasions, when the time and the company are right, we happily spin some records.

The bar will soon celebrate its first decade of existence. What are the plans for the future? How do you see the story unfolding in the upcoming years?

Mai Più is a story that I want to continue nurturing and improving. I set the path from the very beginning, and now I'm staying on course. I'm pleased with how things have been going, and I believe we're headed in the right direction. I also recognize that guests sometimes want a bite to eat with their drinks. My team and I are working on that, and hopefully, our offerings will soon include snacks and cold cuts.

"I invite everyone who hasn't visited Mai Più yet to stop by for a coffee, a soft drink, or simply a casual "just because" visit. I’m sure you'll feel the essence of the town here, like the spirit of Izola escaped from the bottle."

Can you give us a brief introduction of your team, who are an indispensable part of the positive atmosphere?

The Mai Più team is invaluable to me. Without good staff, the place wouldn't function. Gaby, Tessa, and Petra are one of a kind! They each contribute their share to keep everything running smoothly. They're practically like family to me; I spend more time with them than with my wife. (laughs) We really enjoy our time when the last guests leave and we have a drink, recounting all the »gossip« of the passing day.

Finally, some interesting facts about Alen:

  • If I were a cocktail, I would be: a Negroni: where three drinks mix to make a substantial cocktail.

  • An experience in Izola I really enjoy is: Concerts in Manzioli Square, when smiling locals gather there.

  • Something I always recommend to my guests is: eating in Manjada Restaurant, where you can feel the homely and relaxed atmosphere alongside the good food.

  • My favorite event in Izola is: the Fisherman's Festival, when my family and I go for a wander around the town center.

  • My favorite free time activity is: going for a walk by the sea to the »white rocks« beach, especially in winter, when the sea has a special smell and sound.
TIC Izola +386 5 640 10 50
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