Young Talents – Arnaud Scotty
Today’s young talent will be tomorrow’s household name. BarNews has asked a few prominent friends to name the up and coming bartenders they think we should keep an eye on. We launch this new series with Arnaud Scotty, who won the ‘Jeune Talent’ competition at the French final of the 2016 Grand Prix. Follow us on Facebook to find out more about promising bartenders from Germany, Spain, Greece and Mexico over the next few days.
The team behind the France final of the 2016 Havana Club Grand Prix had a great idea: why not ask all finalists to nominate a young talent and then have him or her take part in a small competition around Cuban classics, for a chance to attend the Grand Prix as a guest. Dirty Dick’s Guillaume Leblanc not only picked up future winner Arnaud Scotty, he also worked with him on his own drink for the regular competition: A great example of a tried and tested bartender working hand in hand with a younger guy.
One year later, Arnaud told us he didn’t have a mentor as he was a self-trained bartender, but that Guillaume was of course someone he looked up to. In fact, his own bartending style might be described as falling somewhere between Dirty Dick and another famous French bar, Little Red Door. « I’d say it’s very heterogeneous. I like everything. I love working on dry, spirit forward cocktails as much as I love coming up with a simple cocktail in which the syrup changes everything. I’m between two universes ».
Now 23, Arnaud found out about ‘real’ cocktails only four years ago. « I was working in clubs at the time. I loved cocktails, but back then, for me, that word meant Sex on the Beach or Long Island Ice Tea. And by chance, I found out about this new thing in Paris, this cocktail bar boom. So we went, with a friend. From then on, we’d go to a bar, spend all our savings and make sure we’d be sat at the bar to try and pick up as much info as we could for the following 3 hours ». The revelation happened at Little Red Door. There, Arnaud finds out that cocktails are made with love - and good booze: « I thought it was something you’d drink to hide the alcohol and get drunk fast, but I found out it was all about the experience. The bartenders would tell us ‘this is what inspired me, I want to take you to this place and there they drink this kind of stuff so I used this ingredient in the drink…’ That’s when I realized that’s what I wanted to do ».
After a couple of years soaking up everything he could, he joined Lipstick, where he is now head bartender. « Lipstick is not a cocktail bar. It’s a bar, full stop. We make cocktails because we love it. If you want a vodka Red Bull, that’s fine. But at 3 am you can still have a great cocktail ». When we told him that it was very different from Little Red Door, Arnaud told us that they wanted to come up with quality drinks but that they also had a different, and quite difficult, objective: « Cocktail bars have a very specific clientele. We’re something else. Here, it’s a party, we want clients who may come from a more modest background, and we have much lower prices than other bars. I like nightlife, I love a good party and at the same time I can create a great cocktail experience. So for me Lipstick is the perfect combination ».
So the man loves a party with great drinks and his favourite cocktail is the Daiquiri (« you can have one at any time, you never get tired of it »). One of Lipstick’s bestsellers is actually a lovely twist on our beloved classic, with a pomegranate / apple cider / tamarind / clementine shrub instead of sugar. Does this mean he was made to love Cuba? Judge for yourself: « For me, personal relationships are very important and Havana was crazy. You can walk into any bar, start a conversation with anybody and you’ll feel a connection. You just have to understand where you are. They’d tell me ‘don’t worry, this is Cuba’, and I took it as a way of saying ‘here, we have our problems but let’s not let that get in the way’. They don’t bother with what’s not important and it’s very relaxing ».
If he appears to have felt right at home in Havana, he was also there with a serious task. You see, Arnaud has a (not so) secret ambition: he wants to come back in 2018 and win the Grand Prix. « Amaury Cepada won the Grand Prix because something clicked with him. He took us all on a trip. Within two seconds of his presentation, you were in his universe. It was magical. » Can we assume he’ll try to do the same? In his own way, for sure. And he is already working on it: « In Cuba, I discovered some ingredients that I’ve brought back with me. One of them works wonderfully with Havana Club 7, and I’m already working on recipes ». Don’t expect him to tell us much more: he is damn serious about wanting to win it. Keep a lid on your plans, Arnaud, and, maybe, see you next year.