Juan Carlos Lopez is the Head Bartender of Mumbai Café in Lyon. He makes us two cocktails, one with Mezcal and Palo Santo and the second with Sherry and Pandan.
Juan Carlos introduce yourself
My name is Juan Carlos Lopez and originally I started my career as a chef but missed socialising with customers. My cousin who was a bartender in our hometown of Lima and he suggested I’d like it, as it incorporates the creativity and flavours of the kitchen, but with direct interaction with clients that I was missing. So I started to learn about bartending on the job in Cuzco where I met my ex-wife who is French. I decided to travel to France to be with her, so took some French courses in Lima and followed her to Lyon. My first job was in a sushi shop and when I got it, I celebrated with a bar tour. I started chatting to a bartender and explained my situation and he kindly proposed that I come behind the bar and make some drinks. The clients liked them and the day after he asked me to come to work with him at Mumbai Cafe… that was three years ago.
The classic you want to show us
50ml of El Rey Zapoteco Mezcal
25ml La Quintinye Red Vermouth
2 barspoon of Fernet Branca
2 drops of Betel Leaf Tincture
1 spray of Palo Santo
The bar you dream of
It would be a Peruvian craft cocktail bar where I could focus on Pisco and other products from South America, right here in Lyon. The idea would be to work with someone who can switch with me behind the bar or in the kitchen to do tapas. So people could really enjoy and experience South American gastronomy at a reasonable price. Of course, it would have a South American vibe and Latin music, so people would really feel like they’re in South America without having to travel.
What do you do in your time off
I have one day off a week and that’s Sunday, but I usually work on that day too. I have a small laboratory at home and I love to try to create new stuff, so it doesn’t work for me, it’s pleasure. I’m currently preparing a kombucha for the new menu.
The spirit you like the most
I love amaro, because of the spice and herbal sides. It reminds me of when I was a child because my father used to cure me with very bitter herbs, a little bit like Fernet Branca. I love to work with that kind of product in my cocktails.
What makes a good cocktail
For me, a good cocktail needs to be crafted. So you really manage it from A to Z with each ingredient prepared by you or from a great supplier.
What ingredient do you enjoy using in cocktails
Recently I’ve liked playing with fermented pineapple. It gives a great length to a cocktail.
The signature cocktail you want to show us
35ml of Yellow Chartreuse fat washed with White Chocolate Butter
35ml of Palo Cortado Sherry
50ml of Pandan Kombucha
Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender
You should go to visit Dr Stravinsky in Barcelona to speak with Antonio, he is kind and very knowledgable. Otherwise, go to Voodoo Reyes in Geneva and speak with Katalin Bene, I love her.