Tarek Nini : Le Ballroom (Paris)

Tarek is a bartender at Le Ballroom, Paris. He makes two cocktails for us, one with Gin and Carpano, and the second with Mezcal and Karela.

Tarek introduce yourself
I’m Tarek Nini, I’m 28 years old and a bartender at Le Ballroom in Paris. Like a lot of bartenders I began in the industry to pay for my computing degree. When I considered the social interactions I had in computing compared to bartending I knew which was the best career for me. I met Scott Schuder the founder of Dirty Dick and he triggered my taste for cocktails, so I quit university to work full-time in a bar. I began in local bar where the drinks of choice were beer and Ricard, rather than Old Fashioneds or Martinis, but it was a good way to learn. I moved to Baranaan last year for their opening and am now at Le Ballroom. For me, working behind the bar is more about hospitality than bartending.

The classic you want to show us
Martinez Old Tom
60 ml of Old Tom Gin
15ml of Dolin vermouth Dry
15ml of Carpano Antica Formula
1 barspoon of Luxardo Marascshino
1 dash of orange bitters

The bar or party you dream of
My perfect bar is a local bistro where you can drink a good beer or a good Manhattan. The most important aspect is the relationship between the bartender and the customer and that’s the feeling I get with local bistros. It would be a small Parisian style bistro for around 50 people, so the clients got very personalised service. Most of the seating would be stools around the bar, as I’d want customers to feel they could chat about everything and have real connections. My music selection would be indy pop from the 90’s and hip hop. As it’s a bistro I’d have small local dishes to nibble, so people could keep drinking.

When I go out I go to bistros to get a fresh beer at the bar and chat with the bartender. Sometimes, I go to cocktail bars, but most of time I stay at home to chill and watch movies or series.

The spirit you like the most
My favourite spirit is rye whiskey, because it has a strong, woody taste with a lot of character, but it’s still easy to work with. The complexity of the spirit allows you to make simple cocktails like a Manhattan and you don’t need tonnes of ingredients to make it good. My favourite one is the Smooth Ambler, it’s a 7 year old rye or Rittenhouse 100 proof.

What makes a good cocktail and which product do you want to highlight at this moment
A good cocktail is about feeling. I never studied food or drink, for me it’s more about feelings, watching people work and tasting their drinks or food. It’s the same with clients, it’s watching and listening to them, to make their perfect drink.

I really like working with Yellow Chartreuse, because it gives a sweet taste and lots of aroma with just a small amount. Also, it’s not too strong and helps to soften a cocktail.

The signature cocktail you want to show us
Dûra Dûra
50ml of Nuestra Soledad Mezcal infused with grilled mustard seeds
20ml of  Karela (bitter Indian cucumber juice)
20ml of Agave Syrup
25ml of Lime
2 dashes of Jamaican Jerks Bitters

Thanks to Baranaan to let us film in their bar.

Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender?
You have to go to interview Guillaume at Dirty Dick. He’s a great bartender who is sharp and humble at the same time and he knows the bar scene very well. Otherwise, the head bartender of Le Ballroom, Christina is an amazing woman. Two completely different styles of bartender, but both definitely people you need to meet.