French journalist Laurence Marot met up with head bartender of Botaniste at the Shangri-La Hotel in Paris. This literature and philosophy graduate-come-cocktail mastermind has designed a menu inspired by the original hotel owner, Prince Roland Bonaparte, who was a keen botanist. Cognac is the life and soul of high-end cocktails, and is intrinsically linked to the notion of the terroir.
What role does Cognac play in your creative universe?
– I see Cognac as first and foremost linked to the notion of terroir, which provides a key source of inspiration in my line of work. As a French mixologist, I am proud to have such a jewel in our national heritage. Cognac is a wine spirit that is only produced in France, which draws on century-old expertise. No equivalent exists anywhere else in the world.
In terms of taste, what grabs your attention the most?
– To start with, I have to say I’m a big fan of Cognac’s range of floral and fruity aromas. Not forgetting the oaky overtones, whereby the fine oak barrels lend Cognac its deliciously velvety texture. Cognac is an exquisite drink where the emphasis lies in its delicate aromas and flavours.
How do you work with it?
– Since it is made from grapes, utmost care and attention must be paid when using Cognac. It has an outstanding aromatic diversity, suited to all seasons. This in itself makes it a very inspiring drink to work with. I personally prefer to keep it for after dinner drinks, in particular mixed in dry, full-bodied cocktails.
Three Clément Emery signature cocktail
– the Vieux Carré : “a dry and aromatic classic that I like to mix with rye, red vermouth and Bénédictine. It works really well with a VSOP”
– the Sidecar : “an iconic cocktail that I propose in a less sweet and more acidic modern version. I replace the lemon with verjuice, a sour juice made from grapes, which bring out Cognacs flavours to the full”
– the Néktar : “a personal creation that featured on the first menu I designed for Hotel Shangri-La to offer consumers an accessible and 100% French cocktail. The key ingredients are mead and Cognac with floral notes, and I serve it in a bee-shaped glass. It is one of our bestsellers.”