Bartenders, Drink

Franck Duval, bar manager, Hubbard & Bell

Chatting spoons, desert islands and pick-up lines with Hubbard & Bell’s master mixologist

How long have you been with Soho House?
Nearly a year and a half.

Tell us about your most memorable night behind a bar?
A crazy night on New Year’s Eve in France, five years ago. I produced 700 cocktails in a night. It was stressful – physically and mentally!

What’s your favourite bar on the planet?
I have many… but I love Nightjar on Old Street – amazing vibes! Their other site in Smithfield Market, Oriole, also has very talented bartenders. These days I’m going to The Cocktail Trading Co, which has just opened on Brick Lane.

What’s the one cocktail that you can’t get out your head?
Good question! I love a Last Word.  It is a really old style of cocktail – citrus, sour tasting. Really good anytime, as an aperitif or even after dinner.

…and the one you love to make?
The Martini: dry, wet or dirty!

From behind the bar, what is the best pick up move you have ever witnessed?
One time I saw a couple at the bar. The man got up and left and the bartender ended up going home with the girl! I was shocked.

What can’t you live without behind the bar?
A bar spoon is my top priority. You can do so many things with it: stir, taste, open a bottle a beer. Others may say a shaker but the bar spoon is really important.

What’s the one ingredient that everyone needs in their home bar?
Bitters are really important as they give a lot of spice and enhance all the cocktails.

When you’re not working, away from the bar, where can we find you?
In east London, either cycling or in a coffee shop relaxing. Cycling is the east London style, especially in the summer.

Where does your inspiration stem from?
Tony Conigliaro and Dave Arnold explore new techniques and flavour profiles. I like mixing different techniques that have derived from Tony and Dave, and making them my own. I recently made a new drink with Dave’s new infusion of herbs and spirits. I used his techniques but with a different flavour profile. And it works so why not use a good idea!

What was your first ever drink?
I worked in clubs when I was 18. I’d say my first was an Old Fashioned. There is a whole story behind that drink, and I realised there is more to bartending than just making drinks with spirits and mixers.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what bottles would you take with you?
Barbancourt 15 year old rum.  It’s strong rum with vanilla, dried fruit and butterscotch. Sometimes I could drink the whole bottle! Also a bottle of Bruichladdich Black Art, which is a whisky from Islay. It is the best whisky at Hubbard & Bell and we are lucky we have it!

What advice would you give to bartenders trying to make it in the industry?
Don’t be afraid. Explore everything. The key is to learn a lot – do some master classes and training, read some books and experiment with the recipes, learn the classics. Also, taste all the spirits, so you can recommend them to customers. These are the keys to becoming natural, and they’ll allow you to be confident behind the bar. Competitions are also very important, especially for junior bartenders. They push you to try new things, learn from your mistakes and increase you level of control. You may get to a point where you think you know everything, but no – there are new techniques and challenges everyday. There’s always more to learn!

Read more interviews with brilliant Soho House & Co bartenders… 

Tom Kerr, global bars manager.

Casey Sorensen, Shoreditch House bars manager.

Ben Fitzgerald,  New York bars manager.

Share: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on TumblrEmail this to someone