06 August 2010

Joerg Meyer- owner of the fabulous 'Le Lion' in Hamburg- talks to Drink Factory

1.What is the first cocktail you ever made?

I will never forget. An El Diablo Cocktail. I was 16, maybe 17 years old. In some Interviews I say I was 18, some legal thing here in germany - you understand? Ok. 16 and „in love“. There was a beautiful Lady, out of reach for a simple guy like me. And her best girlfriend (quite more in reach for me) had her birthday party. So I decided to pop up with a Birthday Present Cocktail for all guests. I packed all my stuff on my scooter and stole a book from my sister’s shelf. She was doing an apprentice as a Hotel Employee in a five star Hotel and had some books for Education. One about Cocktails. I really was a bad brother. I just ripped of the EL DIABLO page, because after I checked the storage room of my parents country pub, that was the only drink I was able to make and sounds quite easy. The guest all get drunk and I got in trouble with the parents of the birthdays ladies (her father worked for the police - little bit serious about serving drinks to too young people), I didn’t make it to reach the heart of the girl I fell in love with and my sister was really pissed with me, next to my mother which realized that someone cracked the storage room and stole some SIERRA TEQUILA. Well ... good think: next steps in bartending career had more success ...

2. What are your 3 favourite drinks? With recipes if you have them; old, new and your own.

I do not have favourite drinks. If its about the 3 drinks I would like to recommend to a guest I can‘t say. It belongs to the guest. I need to see him, have a short conversation, and than I will figure out. So the three favourite drinks in this case would be:

1. Serve him an cold glass of Water for free. Show him that he is more than welcome in your bar - perfect drink, if you ask me

2. The Simple Drink - make him a simple Drink. But make it perfect. The best Whisky Sour (f.e.) he has ever had. And do not talk about. Just wait and see his reaction.

3. The Drink that is perfect for his lady. Don‘t take Mixology toooo serious. Serve her a great drink, make her smile. Than he will as well. Understand that the Drink is only a small part of a great evening for your guests.

Second choice. The three favourite Drinks I would like to drink myself

1. Well - same here. Let‘s wait and check out the Bar, Talk to the Bartender. What‘s his style? Should I give it a try or just stay with a perfect glass of chilled Champagne?

2. Simple is always good. For more it need a special place and a special time. In a crowded bar never order complex drinks. Show that you understand the game. Why bring honorable colleges in some trouble by ordering the perfect Ramos in a crowded bar. Bullshit. Show respect to the people who share your passion. It is a packed place? go for a Gin & Tonic (You still can live your geek nerd style on the kind of brand, zest, tonic you order...)

3. Atmosphere, Atmosphere, Atmosphere. Their is a fantastic old Hotel Bar in Hamburg with an old Italian Bartender. I once dropped there in with Tony C.. How can‘t you go here for a Negroni? Is it possible to have a look at the skyline of NYC not sipping a Manhattan? I love to go for classics ...

3. Tell us about a new flavour you have discovered recently.

Well, some rumors and bad tongues say it is all about BASIL. Yes, fair to mention: I bought lots of stocks on basil. But beside that: there is not a single one who came out very hard. We live in fantastic times. Everything is aviable always. It’s up to us. More important to me is, THAT we should always rethink flavours. If you start thinking everything is already done, you should maybe stop bartending. The rest is a game. It’s not about hunting down the fanciest ingredients. Do you know what REALLY is in my head today. Raspberry, Juniper, Green Tea, maybe Vermouth, Eggwhite and Lemon. Why? Because I tried a super good Clover Club Cocktail a few week ago in London. It was perfect. I had it in two version. One was was half Gin, half kind of homemade Green Tea Sirup. The other one was classic, but I swear with fresh Raspberrys, or Syrup?

You know what kills me? I can‘t make it. I am trying with Mario every few Night some new Ideas on a Clover Club Version. Maybe homemade Raspberry Syrup. Different Gins. It’s often 90% - but never the 99% I enjoyed in London. I can‘t live with that. A simple Drink. When You once had him perfect you can‘t go back. So, the flavour I enjoy most always is maybe DETAIL

4. If you could pass just one thing on to an apprentice bartender, what would it be?

I can‘t. It’s too complex. And I do not want to give the apprentice the feeling that its about ONE Superthing. No, it is not. It is about a few hundred very important thinks. And it’s about long hours. If you look for easy going ... leave. Bartending is a damn hard job. And if you do not love people in general - you should NOT do this job at all. So, no Supersolutions for the young once - but: an Offer...

I just started to announce that Le Lion Bar de Paris is offering an Job for one Year as an Commi de Bar. That’s our still of education. I guarantee that you work at least 200 to 220 hours a month. You payment will be 1000€. You will only get tips if you work is good enough and the bartender willing to share with you. During this year you will never Tend the Bar in front of my guests I promise. But, I promise you as well, you will get a great education. You can apply, via email is best. You should be at least 20 ears old and speak a good english. German is not needed. Very important to me is good manners. So, young man ... are you in for some serious work? Here are more details:


5. What does the future hold for yourself, and what do you see happening in the future within the industry?

I have no Idea. Some simple thoughts. If you are able to do a good drink, people will still enjoy it. Do your homework, clean your bottles and serve good drinks with a smile. People will always enjoy this. Regarding to the Industry. To me, bartenders nowadays do concentrate tooo much on Industry and brands. Bartenders do not need Industry and Brands. They need us. I would love to see If bartender would stop a little bit this international circus of brand work and just serve good drinks, be open minded and get in touch with bartenders from all countries. We do not need brands for this. They are the odd man out. So, please - do not care about industry. Make a good job and people will love your work

6. What has been your biggest satisfaction from working behind the bar?

Seriously - we should stop this superlative thing. Working behind the bar is great in general. Otherwise I wouldn‘t to it 12 hours a shift. My job give me lots of a satisfaction I am a happy man. I love my job. I can do what a love to do. Every Evening is different - many of them are very nice. We should not hunt down the best, coolest etc thing ever. Serving drinks can make you happy in a very unpretentious way. And that’s ok

7. If you were to have a conversation with a cocktail (and presuming it could talk back to you and tell you its past), which cocktail would it be and why?

The Dr. Sack Cocktail. A very old Mixture of Dry Gin, Creme de Kirsch and Kirsch l‘eau de Vie. Some say it was first served in the old ADLON Hotel in Berlin after the first world war. Even more, I like to hear his stories about one of the bars I fall in love with. I spend three years of my young days trying to spend every minute and every Money I had in the great Old Fashion Bar of Archim F. Eberhardt in Hamburg. The Dr. Sack Cocktail was his kind of House Drinks for professional Barflys. I would love to hear who he enjoyed his second life after getting lost after 1945 in Berlin and got reborn in 1968 in Hamburg. And about the 30 Years he was served at Old Fashioned Bar. Man, I could spend Nights on listening to him...awesome

8. What influences your drinks from outside the industry?

Can‘t really say. It‘s mixture of a few thinks: Old Books could be a start. As I said: I like classics, sometimes a modern twists makes them first class. But than its also about „exchange“ with Bartenders and Conaisseurs. I read a lot. Also online. Blogs from all over the World give me inspiration. And from time to time the influence of a good chef and his Restaurant give you a new Idea. Consuming as much as possible Information and Inspiration. But as I said. Love Classics. It is not about creating a new great Killer drink every week. Relax. Someone got Basil?

9. If you were to break a bartending golden rule, what would it be?

Rule No. 1 - The Bartender is always right ... break with them, its overrated

10. Outside of flavour and the craft of the cocktail, what in your opinion affects the appreciation of cocktails the most? Word of mouth...

11. If you were to champion a cocktail, which would it be?

„The simple Classic“ - often served all over the world, but very rare to find a good one.

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