Franz-Arthur MacElhone: Harry’s Bar (Paris)

Franz-Arthur MacElhone is the owner of The Harry’s Bar in Paris. He makes us two cocktails, one with Cognac and lemon and the second with Gin and Yellow Chartreuse.

Franz-Arthur introduce yourself
My name is Franz-Arthur MacElhone, fourth generation running Harry’s Bar, 1911, the oldest cocktail bar in Europe. I was educated at the London School of Economics, but basically, I’ve always been around. I’ve been trained as a bartender here during my studies afterwards, I was always helping the family business by organizing American elections, doing some sourcing in terms of whiskey, spirits and a few other things. Meanwhile, working in recruitment for two years afterwards I went to Cannes South of France for a while to work with the mayor of Cannes who wanted to get a Harry’s bar there as well. It was the opportunity for me to open a new one and to take an overview of the whole company. So now, it’s my full-time job. We are traditionally inventive. So some changes, of course, but changes just to serve a place and not to to change it for the sake of changing it. We are living in one of the biggest golden ages of cocktails, cocktail culture and, more broadly speaking, spirits, all the booze industry. For instance, like all those bar shows, now we’re organizing more and more guest shifts with people that are like us, see things like us, like the Schofield’s or Satan’s Whiskers, they have the same vision of cocktails, with their own identity.

The classic you want to show us
20ml of Cointreau
50ml of Cognac Rémy Martin 1738
10ml of Lemon Juice

The bar you dream of
I wouldn’t change Harry’s into something fancier, because I always say, it’s not my place, it’s my customer’s place, my father’s place in my children’s space. So I wouldn’t go on a personal fantasy about Harry’s. It’s too big. I would create something different than here, something only to tickle my fancy, it would be something whiskey and cognac-based and champion the cocktail mixing, both with a very classic and traditional orientation, but with definitely young and trained bartenders. I was talking about Satan’s Whiskers earlier. We could also talk about bars and hotels. It would be probably a mixture of both. So young bartenders knowing the aim of their environments. It’s not about the age, of course. It’s only about championing the next generation, so that would be the thing I would go for.

What do you do in your time off
I have a young daughter, so it takes time. I read a lot about spirits, about cocktails and also philosophical and religious books. Once a year for a week, I take a retreat in a monastery. I travel but most of my travel of for the bar.

The spirit you like the most
Okay, let’s go for Chartreuse because it’s powerful and it’s gentle at the same time, because it’s plant-based, but you wouldn’t have the upper hand over one plant in it. There’s a huge balance, it’s unique. And for a non-aged one in a cocktail, let’s go green.

What makes a good cocktail
Balance, respect for the specs when it comes to a classic, then respect for yourself when it comes to creation.

What ingredient do you enjoy using in cocktail
Hibiscus, because it reminds me of my wedding in Africa. There I have a bissap cocktail, so hibiscus base, it’s sour and dry at the same time, for french palet it’s not usual, even in powder.

The signature cocktail you want to show us
Merci Guillaume
40ml of Gin
10ml of Yellow Chartreuse
15ml of lime
15ml of Passion Fruit Syrup
5 Dashes of Peychaud bitters

Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender
I would go to Dukes Bar in London, Alessandro Palazzi is quite a character. 1862 Dry is also very good, where you can find good classics and creations. Other places I would go, of course, is Schofield’s Bar in Manchester and Attaboy in New York.

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