Mixologist Alexandre Chatté serves up classic cocktails from the 1930s at new French fine dining eatery Bibo as part of the 1930s La Compagnie Générale Française de Tramway design theme of the restaurant.
Why did you decide to become a mixologist?
After finishing my hotel management course in Britain, I tried all aspects of the job, from sommelier to floor and even kitchen, but I always felt something was missing. I never thought of working behind a bar until a job was offered to me, and it was the only department that I could retain a creative side while still dealing with clients.
Did you study formally?
I went to hotel school, but it did not cover the bar at all, just wines - that too was not in detail. I had the opportunity of spending some time with world-renowned bartenders, which really helped me understand what I needed to know and learn to be a truly well-rounded bartender. Everything else came with experience, research and books.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
There are a few aspects to my job that I enjoy, such as being under pressure during a very busy shift, entering a zone behind the bar with your colleague when you're in the middle of rush hour. But the most satisfying part of the job is being able to create wonderful drinks and have people really enjoy them.
What are your favourite cocktails?
Like most bartenders, I rarely drink cocktails, but if was to have one, I would probably go for a dry martini or sazerac if it was well executed.
What are the most popular cocktails these days?
Cocktail trends are changing a lot in this part of the world, people are more educated about what they drink, and people are asking for more complex drinks. The negroni and the old fashioned are now back in fashion.
Do you get to create cocktails?
I get to create not just cocktail recipes but whole menu concepts and the stories behind each cocktail.
Do people prefer classic or new cocktails?
They enjoy both. The classics are classics because they work and they stood the test of time. As for the new ones, I have tried some incredible drinks from an amazing bartender that would just blow anyone's mind for originality and balance of flavours.
What is the best cocktail you have created?
I would say my favourite drink to date would my B24 Martinez - a gin base with honeycomb, sauvignon blanc, French and Italian dry vermouth and lavender tea - that I created for the Beefeater 24 Competition.
Doyou have your own style when creating cocktails?
There are two styles when creating cocktails - the molecular approach or traditional. I am something in between.
Why did Bibo come up with the 1930s cocktail theme?
We wanted to create a menu that would match the whole concept [of the restaurant], and it also happens to be a very interesting era for drinking as it offered numerous recipes that are still served to this day and some forgotten classics such as the colonial cooler and the twentieth century. It also created the pioneers of our industry.
How different are 1930s cocktails to present ones?
They are very different for the main reason that today we have more technology that allows us to study and understand more in depth how to make our spirits and liquors. The techniques for most of the time have not changed.
How did you research them and have you made any changes to suit today's tastes?
We spent a lot of time researching what was done back then through books and the internet. For what we could not find, we just called our friends, who we knew would know. We at Bibo try to recreate the originals like they did back in the day, but only with the products we have today. For example, the ingredients for the corpse reviver #2 and sazerac are still available today. They have just changed it to suit the modern palate.
If I told you I don't like my cocktail too sweet but like citrus and chilli notes, what would you make me?
I would give you a twist to a twentieth century - gin, lillet, cacao and lemon juice - which is very refreshing.