How did you get started?
I was looking for a job when I first arrived in London in 2001. My mates told me to check out the night clubs (I liked the sound of this idea). I knocked on every door in the West End, introducing myself with my best English: 'Me French, Please Job!' After a couple of days, I started to work at Bar Madrid, on Oxford Street as a bus boy (cleaning, deliverying, and every other job that must be completed behind the scenes).
How were you trained in bartending?
I had the opportunity to work with amazing teams of mates in every bar that I've worked in! From barbacks to bar managers, I think everyone really inspired me. That was my motivation to look for more about bartending. Some individuals like Ugo Bellan, Peter Dorelli, Wayne Collins, Anguela A, Pete K, Andreas Tsanos, Salvatore Calabrese, and many more. They really opened my eyes to the beauty of my job.
Did you take any courses?
No, but I had the chance to get wicked training sessions at TGI Friday in The Haymarket and especially Milk & Honey where once a month people like Mark Ridgwell, Dale de-Groff and other experts came down to London to train us.
Your biggest career influencer?
My guests and customers everyday behind the bar at work! I believe that as a bartender you must answer everyone desires and that philosophy is still influencing my career. I'm always looking for something better or special to give pleasure to your taste buds and your eyes.
What are some of your favourite tools?
Equipment wise, my big shakers, because they make a very good noise, and I can pull out 4 to 5 cocktails at each shake.
For spirits and things like that, Angostura Bitters because the world of cocktail would be very sad without it.
First drink you ever tried?
I believed that it was a Grog (hot water + sugar) with Calvados. Every time I had the cold or flue, my Granddad prepared one for me (with his home made Calvados - pretty strong stuff). My Granny told me that I was 5 or 6 years Old!
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
I love beer, but unfortunately I haven't got that much knowledge about it. If someone wants a beer, then there is absolutely no problem. The only think that I don't like is Stella Artois - they take the p**s out of French people!
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Keep you head up, don't stress and smile!!!!!
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders. Care to share?
I really don't like to walk in a bar, and wait for half an hour before the bartender make eye contact.
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus. Describe the parts of this process.
The most important for me is to make sure that the cocktail selection is a joy to make for the bar team. It should be encouraging for the rest of the staff to sell it, and finally, it has to be a real pleasure for the guests to consume!
What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
In London, we can say that everything can be trendy, as long as you are doing it well including Molecular mixology, Tiki style, Classic bars, Food Matching cocktails and Flair. Whilst worldwide, especially with countries that haven't got that much history with cocktail consumption, it's unbelievable to see that the cocktail is becoming the next big thing to enjoy whilst drinking alcohol.
What's your process for creating a new cocktail?
I always try to make sure that I don't rush to create a new cocktail.
Sometimes you've got the pressure to deliver 'A Fantastic New Cocktail' for a specific date, but when I start mixing, I taste, and then I wait for my taste buds to talk to my brain. When ready, I carry on mixing until I'm satisfied with a result. I believe that a recipe can always be improved, so I tend to make cocktails that can be readjusted to a location or people's palates. The secret is that an outstanding cocktail is every bartender's dream, and it will become outstanding only if the consumer says so, not the bartender!
What is your favorite cocktail to drink? To make?
I like to drink a Daiquiri style of cocktail, old fashioned, and surely I like what tastes good.
To make, I enjoy everything, but I'm not very keen on the strawberry blended margarita and the Screw driver ;-)
What is your favorite mixology resource?
First I think it's the internet in general. Bartender's forums on the web are a fantastic resource for knowledge, because everyone can share their secrets and thoughts. Then, my back-bar at home combined with my kitchen makes a pretty good tool for me to use.
What does success mean for you?
To be happy in life is more than enough.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Happy with kids, (I just got married), and still working in the bar/cocktail industry and with OneCocktail.com
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
A fisherman or oyster farmer
Your hangover cure?
2 Nurofen Express (200 mg capsules) and a bottle of chilled Perrier.
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
The Blue Flaming Lamborghini...try it and you'll understand!
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
Don't stress, think, share and enjoy with your friends and family!
Bar or cellar at home?
A nice cold Red Stripe in Negril
Riesling at the moment for white, and a glass of 'Rouge' with my dad.
Honestly, I like everything, and I keep on discovering incredible new bottles every day. Each taste must make me feel somehow good, whatever it is: rum, cognac, whisky, liqueurs, bitters, etc. After, I am open to suggestions.
I'd say it's the same answer (see 'Favourite Spirit'). But not long time ago, I tasted the Trinidad Especial, made by Valentino Bolognese (Italy), and that was a real blow straight to my mind!
LAB, Old Compton street London with friends and family.
I'd say Cottons in Camden Town, Caribbean friendly and amazing food with rums.
Favourite World location?
Anywhere by the sea.
The Big Blue - Luc Besson.
The Little Prince - St Exupery.
Daft Punk - Homework.
Bob Marley & The Wailers