Sacha is the co-owner of Le Parfum in Montpellier. He makes two cocktails for us, one with Rum and Cloves and the second with Rum and Butter.
Sacha introduce yourself
I am originally from Moscow and moved to France when I was 12 years old. At 17 I decided to move to London to discover something different. It was 1996, I didn’t speak English, I had no money, so I started out washing dishes in a French restaurant. One evening, during my break, I went to a bar and saw someone flair bartending. I thought it was so amazing, I decided right there, that’s what I wanted to do. I started as a barback but knew nothing about cocktails, apart from drinks like pina coladas, sex on the beach and woo woos. Then, as new bars began to open in London like The Lab, I began to understand that flair was only a small part of the industry. I moved to better cocktail bars and met people like Marian Beke. After working in several different bars, I worked for Hakkasan in Tottenham Court Road where I met Tara Garnell and that’s the place where I really learnt everything. We were a high volume bar, but with fine service and quality drinks all at the same time. I moved to do the opening of Nobu, Lounge Lover and other bars, until I decided to leave London for Montpellier in France. An old friend from there wanted to open a venue with me, and here we are… Le Parfum. I chose this name, because a lot of my clients used to call me Grenouille, the character in Le Parfum by Patrick Suskind. Le Parfum is my place, I made it myself with my own hands, piece by piece, otherwise it wouldn’t have felt like my bar. For example, I even burnt by hand each wooden sleeper that created the wall behind the bar. It’s just like a cocktail, when you know exactly what you want, you have to do it yourself. When we first got the place, I brought a bed and a desk and placed them upstairs and I would draw my plans during the evening, check that they would work and wake early to start work on what I’d planned the night before. The bar has an asian ambiance and style and I guess that is the legacy of working at Hakkasan for so long. I also wanted to do something different and I’d never seen an asian style bar in France. The food service was my partners idea, and I’m glad he insisted because I can see he was right. We both like asian flavours, so the food reflects this and it works well with the overall theme of the bar. Maybe in the future we’ll do pairing menu, but we are happy with things the way they are at the moment.
The classic you want to show us
30ml of 3 Rivières Sugar
50ml of Clairin Casimir Rum
10ml of Creole Shrub
The bar you dream of
Even if I created Le Parfum myself, my dream bar would be different. This summer I am exploring the Nordic countries on my vespa. All I am taking is blankets, a tent, my Japanese knife and my glasses. I want to be able stop anywhere, meet local people and chat and make cocktails with what I find in the forests and surrounding areas. I want to use the water from the rivers, ice cubes that I cut myself from the lakes and local ingredients I forage. So right now my dream would be a pop-up bar in the wild, where you invite people to try cocktails based on nature… my dream bar would be a nomadic bar.
What do you do in your time off
Most of the time I go into the wild and I live with nature in a yurt or tent. No internet, no toilets, no walls, no ceiling, nothing. It just reminds you how small you are. Otherwise I like to go out with friends and get drunk.
The spirit you like the most
I love Monkey 47 gin, as it’s almost like an Agricole rum. You can add anything you want to it, but you can never hide its distinctive flavour which is super herbal. It has a very strong identity. Our signature cocktail, Le Parfum, is made with Monkey 47 because of it’s particular taste.
What makes a good cocktail
The initial thing for me is the look of a cocktail, it has to be visually pleasing. I always work on the garnish first, plan the glass and the overall look of it. Only then do I think about what kind of cocktail would work in it. The glass we used for the Ti punch, is a 20€ glass. Then when you taste it and it needs to be twice better.
What ingredient do you enjoy using in cocktails
Here we love to work with ice. Without good dry ice that doesn’t sweat you can’t make a good cocktail. At Le Parfum we use pure ice which we buy from an ice carver to ensure we have the best quality transparent ice we can.
The signature cocktail you want to show us
A Pat of Clarified Barrate Butter
30ml of Pyrat Rum
20ml of Pedro Ximenez
10ml of Maple Syrup
10ml of 3 Rivières Syrup
20ml of Lemon Juice
10ml of Gingerbread Syrup
Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender
There is a bar in Berlin, called Buck and Breck. I really like the style of this place as the bartenders look like skaters, but the service is similar to a five star hotel. I love that.
We are taking a break for the summer holidays. Thanks to everyone who has been involved with our blog this past year. We’ll be back with a new interview on Thursday the 31st August. Hope you all have a wonderful summer! Stay safe, stay fabulous and keep drinking and making cocktails.
Photograph courtesy of Mat Obring from Le Parfum… many thanks.