E: What does it take to be a good mixologist?
A: A lot of curiosity and the will to explore. Mixology is a new term that sometimes enslaves the bartenders to the world of cocktails only. We ferment, distil, and those techniques come from beer, wine and spirit production. We clarify, sous-vide, and those techniques come from the kitchen, or science sometimes. We blend flavours, so first we need to find them. If you just keep your attention on what’s happening in the cocktail world and do not have a constant curiosity and appetite for novelty, you will just reproduce what others have done, never create.
E: What is your philosophy when it comes to mixology and crafting cocktails?
A: It’s all about balance and emotions. I like to work on different senses: presentation works with the view, then bringing in an element that will trick the smell, of course the main element will be the taste, but there is so much more…
E: What is the craziest thing you’ve seen happen in a bar during the course of your career?
A: Well, the craziest cannot be told here unfortunately. Twenty-two years working in the bar industry brings a lot of memorable moments! From getting hugged by the king of Norway, to creating a cocktail for one of my childhood celebrity idols. But I would say that when we did the 750 Jägerbombs in one line at La Doudoune in Val d’Isère, France, it was quiet crazy! Most bars around the world don’t even have that many glasses.
E: Where do you get the inspirations for your cocktails?
A: From everywhere. It could be after speaking with a farmer and discovering a new plant, herb or spice. Or trying a new dish in a restaurant. But it always comes from tasting something, either new, or just a combination of flavours that I did not know before. In France, I spent most of my time with kitchen chefs and pastry chefs, so you could say that my inspiration comes from the kitchen mostly.
E: What’s your most well-known creation? And why?
A: Hard to say… Every time I finish a menu, I feel that it is so much better than the previous one! But there is one cocktail that I kept evolving for years. First it was called Agave y Jamaïca and now it is A night in Tijuana at the Shady Flamingo. This cocktail is exclusively made of Mexican products and is there to glorify mescal and its origin.
E: What are three of your favourite cocktails?
A: As I said, cocktails are linked with emotions, so how could I have only three favourites? For brunch: Bloody Mary, or dirty martini. Apéritif: Negroni or Basil Smash. Beach time: Jungle Bird, or Dark & Stormy. After dinner: espresso martini or Manhattan. The good thing about being a bartender is that you have a cocktail in mind for each occasion. The only problem then is to be somewhere people know how to properly make it. But if I have to pick my all-time favourites: Negroni, Basil Smash, Sidecar.
The Shady Family