Thierry Malikian : Le Calbar (Paris)

Thierry is a bartender at le Calbar in Paris. He shows us 2 cocktails, one is mezcal based and the other one is rum based

Thierry introduce yourself
I’m Thierry, from le Calbar in Paris. I started in 1998 with a degree in bartending (EPMT), then I worked in a 3 star hotel (an Accor brand) where I learnt a lot of stuff. But, at the end I was fed up with hotels and I wanted to do something else, so I worked for the group which own: Barrio Latino and Buddha bar. I then worked at Barfly (which doesn’t exist anymore), then joined the Barrio Latino crew. It’s a huge place and it was the first to get an american workstation for bartenders, like everyone has now. Of course it was more about Mojitos, Pina Coladas or Caipirinhas, so even if it was cool, mixology is about something else, so I moved. A bartender likes to be trained in different places so I worked for a quick period at Le Fumoir for a different style of service. Then I quit to go to Biarritz for the season and worked on the beach at Le Blue Cargo. That was great, and at the end of the season I came back to Paris and worked again for the Accor group. Then I spent one year in Australia where I did everything from room-service to gardener… but no bartending, because I needed to improve my English. I came back to the Sofitel in Paris. In fact, I really liked the hotel service and in Accor group I have always been managed by directors who made me grow up. And it’s here I met my business partner Christophe. We were a great team behind the bar, so we decided to open a bar together, and that’s how we started Le Calbar.

The classic you want to show us
Mezcal Negroni 
50ml of Mezcal
20ml of Cynar
20ml of Tio Pepe (Fino)
A twist of lemon

The party you dream of
It’s my bar! It matches with my taste and authenticity. When I go into a bar, the interior design is important and of course, coming from the hotel world, service is very important as well. At the end, relationships are the most important. The way the bartender or waiter interacts with you is key. You can serve anyone in a bar but it should fit with his expectations, so the way you serve everyone is always different. If your customer is left-handed your glass should be on the left for instance. I believe in the small details, but they are important. So when I party I look at all the details, which is a problem in a way.

The spirit you like the most
I really like Mezcal because of the smoky taste. This flavour is so powerful you just need a few drops to reach a perfect balance to create the taste you want. It’s interesting because anyone can work work with it, you just need to find the right proportion. I like it for short or a long drinks.

What makes a good cocktail and which product do you want to highlight at this moment
Balance of course, but it’s not the only thing. A good cocktail is about where and when you drink it. Because if I drink a Manhattan at home, in my opinion it will be less enjoyable than in a bar where you have the right service and you chat with the bartender. So even if it tastes the same, it won’t be the same because of the context.
I love herbs. Dry or in a tea, cold infusion, whatever the spirit you use, herbs will have an influence. For instance verbena with gin or using spices like cardamom. Infusion is very interesting, it’s like a booster. It’s like you create your own spirit without drawing the taste of the base spirit.

The signature cocktail you want to show us
King Cross
30ml of rum Smith and Cross
20ml  of original Dark Plantation
20ml of a liqueur shrub orange
2 dashes of Angustura bitters

Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender?
I will go to see Mido at Café Moderne.