Two cities, two bars: Remy Savage heads into the future.
Credit: Remy Savage
There’s no doubt about it: Remy Savage is one of the most dynamic bartenders working today, with a commitment to creativity that’s unparalleled across the industry.
Back in 2014, it was winning the Bombay Sapphire Most Innovative Bartender award that brought him to the bartending world’s attention, with a Paper Anniversary cocktail made from gin, saline solution and — maybe you guessed it! — paper syrup! This was during his spell as Head Bartender at Little Red Door in Paris, where his work on their inventive, creative and art-inspired menus won them lots of acclaim. Indeed, both the Evocative Menu and A Menu of Applied Architecture are regarded as some of the defining bar menus of the last decade, with Savage winning the award for Best European Mixologist at the Mixology Bar Awards for his work on the latter. And as if his bar-ography needed enough big names, he moved to London in 2017 to head up The Artesian, voted the World’s Best Bar on four separate occasions.
However, this article isn’t about the past, but the future. Since leaving The Artesian last year in October, Remy’s spoke to us about his upcoming plans, including launching two bars in two cities. So if you were a fan of Remy’s work in either Paris or London, get excited – as he’s sticking around in both!
Hey Remy! So, where exactly are you right now?
I’m in Paris today, but actually it’s more a half and half thing with London since October when I left The Artesian. 10 days here, 10 days there.
Right now I’m looking after two bars in Paris for the Syndicat group, Le Syndicat and La Commune. There I’m co-director alongside their founder Romain Le Mouellic. I decided to stay half-time in London on a personal and professional level. First and foremost, as my daughter is English and she’s staying in London. On the professional side, I still have my flat with my lab Bar Savage. And we’re going to be opening a bar in Autumn!
For bars, London is one of the only places I feel you can truly take the bar concept further. Full immersive conceptual venues can only work in London. There’s a kind of London smell, London at night time really smells like a bar should.
Why did you leave The Artesian?
The Artesian was a great platform for our creativity, just like Little Red Door, and it was great to learn from the hotel structure, with regards to the service and organizational element.
But there’s always this 18 year old Remy who is in the back of my head saying “open your own bar, open it!” And I decided it’s really time for me to do it.
What’s the concept for the London bar?
It’s a company concept which will take on different shapes, with different bars based on different artistic ambitions. Why does a minimalist architect differ from a cubist painter? How do they define aesthetics? What do they find beautiful – and why? And for my first bar, I decided to go for the theme of Bauhaus.
With Bauhaus, you can touch on minimalism and functionalism, plus the fact it’s a school with ambition to create a universal language of aesthetics. In my opinion, the world of flavour and taste is still trying to achieve this idea of a universal language. Basically, I felt it was really interesting to delve deep into this idea!
How will the bar create this universal language?
On our side, this has come from educating ourselves. We have done around a year in total of learning about Bauhaus and impact on modern culture to ensure no detail is overlooked. After all, the drinks and the atmosphere is our jobs – that’s the eas(ier) part.
And what about the name?
Credit: Remy Savage
I can email it - or show you!
If Bauhaus as a school wants to create a universal language of aesthetics, we can’t name our bar in a particular spoken language. All languages, from English to French and Spanish, have different words and spelling. Aesthetics is a global idea that has a universal weight further than linguistic value. So, we can’t give it a name in English, German or French. That’s why we went for a visual name from the artist Wassily Kandinsky.
Kandinsky taught a specific link between colour and form: with different shapes being assigned to different colours and moods. For example, a triangle can only be yellow, while a square must be red and a circle blue.
How did COVID-19 affect you? And when will you open the bar?
So, not so much! We were signed the contract for the bar before the lockdown period started in March - and we’re still going to do it. It just gave us more time to research more into the concept and details. Of course, it’s more of a risk now.
On a personal level, I was in London during the lockdown and as school was cancelled, I spent time with my daughter every day. That was awesome! And we even did some exercises together getting inspired about the Bauhaus theme and non-figurative learning.
And back to the bar: we want to open in October, but let’s see what happens with the global situation over the next couple of months.
What are your future plans with the Le Syndicat group?
The Syndicat group has a strong mindset. To look at the heritage of mixed drinks in France, take these recipes and make them tastier by using modern techniques.
The goal in 2021 is to open a new bar with Le Syndicat in Paris, which aims to continue this trend. There is this place called the PMU in France – and only in France. The most affordable – and least fancy – of the bars, here you can bet on horses when you buy small wine for 1EUR. They’re particularly prevalent in the countryside, away from the big metropolitan cities. And we want to open a bar inspired by these PMU’s in 2021. The aim is to make the cheapest cocktails in the world – there’s no reason for them to be expensive.
What about your other favourite bars? Do you visit any of the bars you used to work at?
I was in Little Red Door two weeks ago and yesterday I went to Lulu White (the other bar we opened back then)! And over in London, I moved into a flat in Hackney next to Scout. I’m really enjoying it there at the moment, particularly because of its level of service. They are the type of person that are so lovely, the type that open the door to the bathroom but don’t make you feel weird about it.
Any future trends you see popping up in the future?
The industry is going to go back to basics. People have been talking a lot about the democratization of cocktails over the last years, but in reality drinks are still 10 to 15 euros and normal people can’t afford them. Especially with COVID-19, the focus will be on affordable but delicious drinks going forward.
I’ll say this: the next five years are going to be really exciting for drinks!