Manning the helm at L’Officine du Louvre, the new bar at the recently renovated Hôtel du Louvre, Marie Picard is the new star of Parisian mixology. Journalist Laurence Marot met with Marie to ask her about Cognac’s role in her inspirational universe.
As a mixologist, is Cognac a spirit you are interested in?
– When cocktails first arrived on the scene in France, the bar world tended to focus more on spirits like rum and gin. Since then, however, people have begun to better appreciate Cognac’s wonderful aromatic richness and the impressive expertise behind it. Personally, I’ve been interested in Cognac and how it can be used in cocktails for around 5 years now and it fits in great on all my drinks menus.
What do you look for in a Cognac?
– I have colleagues that like it for its woody character. I’m more interested in the fruity aromas. Cognac is made from grapes and that really inspires me. It’s one of the great things about Cognac. The grapes give it these beautiful notes of candied fruit and spices. At the bar, I often use VS for fruity cocktails and VSOP for drinks with a drier profile.
You generally aim to make quite refreshing cocktails; can you use Cognac for that?
– Some people still see Cognac as a spirit best suited to the winter months. So, I like to find ways to challenge that stereotype. For example, I love creating cocktails that can be enjoyed on a sunny terrace. I remember my first Cognac cocktail; it was a revisited chilled mulled wine. The spices and pineapple juice really brought out the cognac’s fruity notes. It was so refreshing!
Revisited classics and inspired new creations
“At the moment I want to make new versions of old classics with very few ingredients. I’m adding my own twists to the Old Fashioned and Manhattan for more experienced palates, and creating a new take on the Horse’s Neck for those new to mixology. Ginger ale works really well with the Cognac. In terms of new creations, the Ethé et Fumées cocktail is L’Officine du Louvre’s third best-selling cocktail. I designed it be a sour. It’s a style our customers like. The secret is to use unusual ingredients. In this case, I went for Cognac infused with Chai tea, ice cubes carefully rinsed in Lapsang Souchong, a homemade honey and ginger syrup, and a spicy bitters. It works really well!”