Adrian Niño is the Beverage Director of Bar 1802 at Monte Cristo Hotel in Paris. He makes us two cocktails, one with Rum and Campari infused with Shiso Leaves and the second with Whisky and Corsican Chestnuts Liqueur.
Adrian introduce yourself
I’m Adrian Niño from Paris and I am the Beverage Director of 1802 Bar. I didn’t really know what to do for a job so I went to a bar near home and started as a cleaner and barback, then moved to work at other bars and pubs. Some of my managers really supported me and helped me to grow in this industry. One day I saw a flair competition and I decided that cocktails were my thing. I was interested in the flair style, but I was not skilful enough so I concentrated on learning about mixology and spirits, especially rum. At 23 years old I was part of the opening of a bar and the owners let me manage it. Three years ago I joined the ECC group and started as head bartender at the Mathis hotel, then Le Ballroom where Cristina was the bar manager. When she left, I managed the bar with Tarek, until I had the opportunity to work at the Experimental with Matthew the bar manager who is very sharp and adorable. The ECC Group asked me to return to the Ballroom to change the game, but I left after 2 years because a night job is quite intense. The owner of Monte Cristo Hotel contacted me and asked if I’d manage the bar with the objective to become the biggest rum bar in Europe. Currently, we have 500 references we can introduce people to and we usually spend 10 to 20 minutes to find what they really like. People can be a fan of cognac, mezcal or islay and we will find something that matches their taste. We’ve also produced two of our own batches (a Clairin aged in a Caroni cask sourced by Alexandre Vingtier and an 11 years old Compagnie des Indes). We are launching a new one for our anniversary in November, (it will be a white rum in association with Old Brothers). We are also launching our new cocktail menu at the end of November and it’s called The Sugar Cane Experience. It will be split into 4 parts: fermentation, distillation, ageing and a daiquiris section.
The classic you want to show us
15ml of Rum El Distilado Aguardiente de Cana
15ml of Bourgoin Grapes Eau de Vie
15ml Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
15 ml of Red Dolin Vermouth
20ml of Campari infused with Shiso Leaves
3 dashes of Coffee Tincture
The bar you dream of
It would be in Paris because I am always amazed by this city. It would be on the 5th floor of the building in front of Notre-Dame with the same view I had as a kid. It would have a good selection of spirits directly sourced from different producers, even if we’d have to buy an entire cask, at least it’s more ecological. The idea would be it feels like home, so the design would be like a home where I could welcome people. The cocktail list would be a short menu that I would change whenever I want with no rules because we’re at home.
What do you do in your time off
I spend most of my spare time with my daughter, although it’s never enough. We play together, go to the park, watch her draw ugly drawings (although to me they are the most beautiful in the world because she is my daughter). Sometimes I get out to visit friends in other bars so I can stay updated as it’s part of the business. ECC as always is a great source of inspiration, I really like the way they work. I love the ambience of Le Syndicat and the creativity of their menus. And Bisou is the perfect local bar, with bespoke cocktails, no menu, great team, good products, amazing service, with a small bar or terrace so you can choose whether to be inside or outside.
The spirit you like the most
Obviously it’s rum, but funnily enough, rum is the spirit which I always struggle with the most on a cocktail menu. The versatility between the different terroirs, sugar cane, ways of distillation or fermentation really change the profile. There are great rums all over the world, but my favourites are Navy rums from Jamaica with a lot of fermentation and high esters. I am not a fan of rum with added sugar and thankfully there are more and more brands that manage the distillation and supply chain in a sustainable way which is very important.
What makes a good cocktail
Balance obviously, technique and the context of tasting. A former bartender named Danilo, who now works for Damoiseau, really put me into gastro-physics, which is the science of the perception of what you ingest: the products, the design, the service, the glassware and the aroma.
What ingredient do you enjoy using in cocktails
Tonka is my ingredient, I love it. You don’t need a lot to get flavour, and you can work with it in a lot of different ways. It gives a balance of flavour between cocoa and vanilla.
The signature cocktail you want to show us
30ml of Talisker Whisky Port Ruig
15ml of Ferroni Rum Boucan d’Enfer
15ml of Corsican Chestnuts Liqueur
15ml of Tio Pepe Fino Sherry
15ml of Martini Ambrato Reserva
3 dashes of Cocoa Bean Bitters
Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender
I had an amazing experience from A to Z at the Dead Rabbit in New York a few years ago. Buck and Breck in Berlin, even if they can be a little bit cold to start with. In Paris, I love Danico for the quality of the drinks, Syndicat of course, Bisou and I really like Coya which just opened, the venue is beautiful.