Francesco Onnis: Moonshiner (Paris)

Francesco Onnis is the head bartender at Moonshiner in Paris. He makes us two cocktails, one with Gin and Dry Vermouth the second with Mezcal infused with Prickly Pear and Christian Drouin Blanche de Normandie.

Francesco introduce yourself
I am Francesco Onnis and I am an Italian created from different regions. My mother comes from the south of Italy, my father from Sardegna and I grew up in the north in a mountainous region, so regarding culture, food and drinks, I have a varied background. My mum was the owner of a flower shop and my dad created homemade liquor, which meant as a child I was surrounded by flowers, herbs, roots etc. My very first time behind a bar was when I was fourteen years old and that’s when I fell in love with the industry. When I finished school I started to do a PhD in the anthropology of food (especially foreigners food habits when they are abroad) and continued to work in bars in the evenings. I worked in a ski resort, then moved to Spain and Turkey where I was able to continue my research. I moved to  Paris three years ago and started to work in a speakeasy before joining Moonshiner a year ago. I actually live 30 seconds from here but didn’t know about the bar until a bartender in Mexico told me about it. So, I started here as a client before joining the team.

The classic you want to show us
Why Is my Onion Sweet?
50ml of London Dry Gin
20ml of Dry Vermouth
10ml of Pickled Red Onions

The bar you dream of
My dream bar would a small bar for 40 people, where the venue is shared with a herbalists shop. Even the counter is the same and shared as the back bar, a mix of spirit bottles, hydrosols and herbs. The interior would feel like an old pharmacy with a lot of light and wood. It would be in Turkey, Istanbul or Capadocce and we would serve mezze for a twist on an Italian apero.

What do you do in your time off
I love to read books about food, particularly focussed on the chemical or philosophical side and enjoy cooking and drinking. When I go out to bars, I prefer to drink a beer with a shot of mezcal.

The spirit you like the most
Mezcal obviously, but more generally agave. With agave, you can use 100% of it, so it’s sustainable. Secondly, the spectrum of taste is very broad, so it’s interesting to play within cocktails.

What makes a good cocktail
For me, there are two variables. First balance, whatever the ingredients. Second, the most important is the experience for the customer. I’d rather have an average cocktail with a great customer experience than the opposite. Again you have to find the right balance to create a memory.

What ingredient do you enjoy using in cocktails
When I arrived in Paris I discovered pandan, and I’ve been amazed about the taste and length of its finish ever since. Every time I see pandan on a menu I have to try the drink, that’s why I love Danico.

The signature cocktail you want to show us
No Pal
40ml of Mezcal infused with Prickly Pear
40ml of White Lillet
15ml of Christian Drouin Blanche de Normandie
4 dashes of Bittermens Hopped Grapefruit Bitters

Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender
You should visit Sergio Pisou, in Turin at La Drogheria, we used to work together. Here in Paris, go to the Josephine Bar at Lutecia Hotel and meet the bar manager Nicolas Battafarano. He loves mezcal too.

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