Cocktail Spirits in Paris - In bartenders we TRUST!
Updated: Mar 29
When Europe's most respected bar show calls to collaborate on their educational program in Paris you strap on your Champagne trousers & answer that call. Queue the Cocktails Sprits Bar Show in Paris is one the oldest bar events in Europe that has over the years been on the frontline of educational content in the hospitality industry. Their slogan - IN BARTENDERS WE TRUST - has been the driving force of their bar show throughout the years. Now like never before we need to believe in our industry & each other in the second golden age of bartending.
So the premise was simple - highlight the unique seminars being being held at the bar show in their infamous 'Bar Rouge' seminar area & give all the bartenders around the world ENVY for missing out.
The Educational Content: The subliminal tagline of Cocktails Spirits is 'Quality over Quantity' & this can be seen reflected in all aspects of the bar show from organisation to number of stands & especially when it comes to the seminar curation & selection. The organisers understand that no bartender EVER turns up on time to a bar event so the first speaker was on at 2pm both days. There was 4 speakers per day & their seminars were roughly 30 mins per speaker with 15 mins of 'Question Time' & a 15 minute 'Smoke & Coffee' break in between seminars. It sounds like common sense to have a layout like this so it makes us scratch our heads at Cocktails For You why we haven't seen it implemented in other events around the globe.
So we were there on hand personally to give you some insights into this years amazing seminar details:
◼︎ L'Officine, Lyon - Marc Bonneton, David Capdeville et Adrien Scalese This was a seminar that completely blew us away in terms of the sheer scale of the ambition of what the team behind L'Officine in Lyon. The renovation of the entire complex cost 3.8 million euros with over 500,000 of that going into the renovation of the bar itself. A classic style cocktail bar created in one of the oldest buildings of France itself that ended up making around 60% of all sales as cocktails followed closely by Wine/Champagne. In just under 6 months they've become the biggest account for Billecart-Salmon Champagne in Europe. There's a famous saying 'Those who don't take risks don't drink Champagne!' I feel that here is genuinely paid off!
◼︎ 15h00 - Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Hong Kong & Bangkok - Lorenzo Antinori & Philip Bischoff
The seminar that unveiled the myths & legends behind the Asian bar scene as well as working for one of the biggest luxury hotel chains in the world in a role created specifically for the position. Both speakers are highly awarded bartenders with a huge amount of experience in the some of the world best venues behind them. The seminars took us through the perils of trying to create bar programs & teams in cultures where trends such as sustainability are non-existent outside the premium sector, the difficulties of working with Four Seasons franchise owners with vastly different approaches to hospitality than in the Western world & especially in the workplace culture mentality. It's interesting that some of the best innovation is happening so far away from the 'birthplace' of the cocktail.
◼︎ 16h30 : Tayēr + Elementary, Londres / Monica Berg & Alex Kratena
Arguably one of the most anticipated seminars from this years Cocktails Spirits. The first seminar about the first bar from Alex Kratena & Monica Berg based out in London. This was an exclusive sneak peak behind a bar that isn't even open yet to the public. The split concept of Tayer & Elementary is of course no secret per say but one of the most interesting topics of conversation was management structure & bar station design. Instead of a traditional top down management seen in EVERY OTHER BAR IN THE WORLD at Tayer & Elementary they focus on a responsibility split even management. To semi-quote from memory Monica herself 'You can make any decision you like as a member of the team but you have to be ready to take responsibility for your actions'
Only time will tell but one thing is for certain. We can't wait to visit the venue!
◼︎ 17h30 : Résine, (Symbiose) Bordeaux - Simon Chollet, Félix Clerc, Lucas Maraton, Thomas Néro
What happens when some of the most progressive & talented bartenders in France move from the capitol to Bordeaux to open a bar then a restaurant/bar & combine food as well as drinks in symbiotic relationship? Of course many of you will chuckle mentioning that food pairing has been done before but how many of you have a garden where you grow all the products you use in your restaurant/bar seasonally & combine them. Where you have full control over everything you serve to as much of a degree as possible? It truly blew our mind how far ahead these gentlemen are in Symbiose. It has become a bucket list destination for us in Cocktails For You.
◼︎ 14h00 : Aperture Montpellier, Montpellier - Julien Escot et Pierre-Cyrille
Long standing legend of the French bar industry Julien Escot shocked the French bartending industry when he left the bar he was behind for years & go on a 3 year old hiatus. So it was equally as surprising when he announced his new project out of the blue. There are zero shaken cocktails & no back bar so to speak of in Aperture & although batching cocktails are nothing new in the bar world I've never heard of a bar that actually doesn't have a shaker. Interesting...
◼︎ 15h00 : Floreria Atlantico, Buenos Aires / Tato Renato
The most down to Earth presentation at Cocktails Spirits from a man who seems timeless in his hospitality & attitude. A cocktail bar hidden behind a flower-shop in Buenos Aires that sells flowers & cheer until midnight. Some might scream that the trend is gone for hidden bars but what makes Floreria Atlantico different is that none of this comes from a mindset of 'This GIMMICK will work' but rather an adaptation to the city & neighbourhood he is in. Especially interesting was the story that for the last 4 years the menu has been created around the theme of 'immigration' giving homage to all the different people who emigrated to Argentina over the last 200 years. Instead of getting all upset & political about it the people embraced the diversity of heritage of the venue, the menu & the drinks in the bar.
◼︎ 16h00 : The Virgin Mary Bar, Dublin / Anna Walsh, Oisin Davis & Vaughan Yate
So how's that for a business plan? Let's open a NON-ALCOHOLIC cocktail bar in the capitol of Ireland which is home to arguably one of the most famous nations when it comes to drinking. This was the standout hit of this years Cocktails Spirits hands down as it was definitely the most daring concept as a bar to come out in years. From their approach to non-alcoholic beers, to creating drinks to match preferences without using alcoholic flavours as well as their fight with the HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION of IRELAND to see if they can keep children out of their bar. Its a bar in every sense other than it doesn't serve alcoholic beverages & considering over 20% of the population of Ireland doesn't drink thats a 270,000 people target market in county Dublin alone where you have a MONOPOLY because you're the ONLY bar able to serve them.
◼︎ 17h00 : Mootee, Johannesburg - Peter Good
A high end cocktail bar using all the latest equipment & modernist techniques to create a one of a kind drinking & dining experience in the capitol of South Africa. In a country that has such a unique terroir that everything you plant there mutates & changes flavour. In a land that can grow ANYTHING & has its own local brandy, agave & sugarcane spirits that don't get flown into from the other end of the world. Africa is most definitely coming & Mootee bar is leading the charge. If there is anywhere in the world that is possibly the most exciting place to be for the hospitality industry it is most definitely South Africa.
◼︎ 18h00 : Himkok, Oslo - Maroš Dzurus & Odd Strandbakken
Sometimes when the whole world is going one way certain bars & individuals have to go the other. Himkok is definitely leading the charge around the world as bar that definitely controls its own fate when it comes to everything it has to offer. You want cocktails on draft? Done. You're thinking about a classic modern cocktail bar? Already ahead of you! Cider Bar? Wait I'm not sure I've seen many of those...
In Summary: Cocktails Spirits is unabashedly & distinctly French in its conception as well as execution. I believe it is still the leader in Europe in terms of bar shows as the crowd are all serious bar professionals seeking education. The shoe is intimate & attracts bartenders from all over the globe to attend in the heart of France. The new location in Palais De Tokyo also happens to be photo distance from the Eiffel Tower & the building itself is the definition of the grand French style. There is no other bar show in the world where travelling to a location for a bar show you walking distance from the symbol that defines the nation.
For us personally it was an honour to be present & collaboration. We'd like to thank Nico De Soto especially for making this happen between us & Cocktails Spirits in Paris. We believe we're stronger together & can work in the future to develop the platform further.
So many friends from every corner of the world were there all bringing their unique energy & experience to the show. Every stand was like a seminar in itself with some of the most unique spirits being tasted or presented in ways we didn't know before. We bumped into out good friend & sister-in-arms from Thirsty Magazine over in the US - Tara Fougner - on her tour of France discovering the local products. If there is anyone over in the Americas who is doing the hospitality industry right it is Thirsty Mag & Tara. People with an actual background in the industry who go out & get involved with those working in the scene.
As a closing note for anyone hosting a bar show/bar event or even trying to open a bar here is a word from our experience. It is the PEOPLE that make the bar/bar event & nothing else. They alone give is a soul & help nurture to grown into something bigger & better. Cocktails Spirits in Paris is a bar show made by the people for the people. It's just so happens those people are bartenders. So in the end... IN BARTENDERS WE TRUST