Second part of our interview with Giovanni and Julie, founders of Sete, a cocktail consulting concept. These two young bartenders participated in our last Paragon photoshoot. Here, they talk about their experience.
Are there certain techniques that you particularly like to use in the creation of cocktails?
J. – In the way of doing things, thinking of products that are a little out of the ordinary with techniques that are a little bit funny. Playing with textures for example.
G. – We don’t have a specific technique. We just want to make the cocktail interesting, or to make new tastes with known tastes. Get people out of their comfort zone but reassure them because they recognize the flavours.
Basically, your creative signature is the comforting but unsettling side. So how do people recognize that it’s your cocktail?
J. – It’s still early to tell, because we haven’t traveled much yet, but the idea is to play with local and seasonal products.
Paragon, that must have spoken to you then?
J. – It was cool. We thought about carrot with the White Penja.
G. – I liked the balance game. White pepper is known but not easy to work with. White Penja is a bit of a luxury, specific product. Using that and putting it forward was nice.
For you, what makes a good cocktail?
J. – It is to find the tastes that are presented. Otherwise, you’re disappointed.
G. – It’s a balanced cocktail, not in terms of taste but in terms of flavours. If you only smell one taste, it’s like drinking a juice.
J. – It’s complicated with a liquid. You can also have a play of textures and colors, like in a dish. Putting a drop of oil in our cocktail will give an olfactory and then “fatty” touch for example.
According to you, what will be the next challenges of the bartending world? We talk about naturality, the environment, choosing ingredients in a responsible way… Do you think about these issues?
G. – For me, it’s sourcing, looking for products grown in a certain way, not on the other side of the world. There is a lot of tension on the environment. The bar industry is not necessarily green, we need to change, to go back to something simpler in terms of the overall experience. The bar world is a bit mystified and there is more and more interest in having technical and research experts, but without pretension.
Everything that is related to health, the idea of consuming less alcohol, etc., do you think it will last? For example, there are more and more alcohol-free spirits.
J. – Yes, people are drinking more sensibly. It’s going to get easier to drink less, more accessible.
G. – The bars have a structured offer for alcohol-free today.
J. – Yes, more and more bars are offering non-alcoholic cocktails with original creation. It allows us to have an offer for those who don’t want to drink, when you are pregnant or whatever.
G. – It’s an offer that will supplement to what’s in place. It’s the same as for coffees, before there were only classic coffees, now you can find specialties. The most important thing is the customer, to go back to something simpler.
Is the creative process different for creating a cocktail with or without alcohol?
G. – Yes and no. The main difference is the mouthfeel, but you can play in the same way. We look for a balance. But alcohol brings a lot of things, and if there is none, you have to find a way to compensate. There is another challenge in creating a cocktail without alcohol.
Is it harder to think of a cocktail without alcohol?
J. – It can be. For example, for a non-alcoholic bitter, depending on what you have, it can be more difficult. But it is changing, now there are non-alcoholic spirits that have its characteristics. The palate is also evolving. Before, I would have never drank a cocktail like a Negroni, something bitter or strong, and now I’m not able to have a cocktail that is too sweet. Today, customers are less afraid to ask for a non-alcoholic cocktail with bitterness.
How would you sum up your Paragon experience?
J. – Surprising. When we created the cocktails, I didn’t expect to have this much power in my mouth. It’s still a cordial even though it’s spicy. We realized that if we put a small amount, it comes out very strong. I didn’t expect that it would do that with the carrot, for example, and you can mix it with things that are strong and others that are milder.
G. – Inspiring. With three products, we made six cocktails, we could go in all directions, and we see that we can play easily with cordials. We can afford to put them forward to bring out this or that flavour.
J. – And both with and without alcohol.
Which of the six cocktails are you particularly proud of?
G. – The Smoky berry or Rue & Hops, because I love beer cocktails, you don’t get them very often.
J. – Smoky berry. But it depends, I like them all. This one worked right away.
G. – It’s a light cocktail, it feels like there’s more alcohol than there really is.
J. – Yes, and oddly enough the easiest to make.