Dries Botty is a bartender from Belgium and we got an opportunity to hear his story at the BCB in Berlin, so enjoy it 😉
What is your definition of a good bar?
The definition of a good bar is, first of all, a place where you can have good drinks. However, a good drink makes up only 10 percent of it, I think the rest is all about how you feel there. When you enter a bar, the first, initial feeling needs to be right and it has to feel like home, there has to exist a level of trust. A cocktail bar can be a good bar but a dive bar can be good as well. It depends on how you feel there, the vibe, it has to have a whole package. If the concept is not good, it’s not a good bar. A good bar is where everything suits the moment. If I want to go party, for me, a good bar is a dive bar. If I’m going out with my girl, then a cocktail bar is a good bar, as long as hospitality is there. There has to be a good atmosphere, you have to feel good in a room.
Do you have a favorite or a few favorite bars?
My favorite bar is where I’m sitting at a given moment. It really depends on a moment.
What is your favorite bar in Berlin?
Actually, I haven’t gone to many bars in Berlin and I think we shouldn’t even be choosing a favorite bar in Berlin during BCB. Since I cannot judge the bars during evenings with BCB, I cannot say what my favorite bar in Berlin is.
What is your favorite bar of all time?
The bar where I work, Bijou in Antwerp. I love to work there and I think if you work there 5 days a week, it’s important to feel at home. Therefore, that is my favorite bar.
We’ve been witnesses of many trends in mixology, some good some bad. What are the things you like and don’t like as much at the moment?
What I really like these days is how we are increasingly going back to minimalism. Like all those obscure, really big garnishes that we used to have, they’re nice to see but I think we are now thinking more about the flavor so that’s what minimalism is really about. The flavor, not really anything around it. The ultimate way of minimalism is to produce your own spirits, exactly how you prefer them for your drinks. That’s what I think is a big plus because we are all becoming smarter, we all want to become more different than others so we we have to go back to basics and start from there.
When I hear that, I’m thinking you’re a fan of classic cocktails?
I like classic cocktails a lot but I also like crazy creations.
What is your favorite drink?
It’s exactly the same as for my favorite bar, depends on the moment. I like to drink everything. I really like refreshing drinks but I also like a nice El Presidente cocktail or a Negroni. It depends on what my plans are and who I am with.
What is the last drink you made?
The last drink I created was a drink I call Call Me Cheesy and it’s my retake on a Pineapple Daiquiri. I put BelRoy’s rum in it, vodka which I infused with Parmesan cheese instead of using saline solution to give it that saltiness. Then I acidified pineapple juice to replace lime juice and sirup made from a Tripel Karmeliet beer.
There are many bartending books on the market, do you have a favorite one?
I don’t really read a lot of bartending books anymore, I’m looking more into the science behind the flavors now, of how the flavor works, like I said, minimalism. Actually, I don’t really read a lot of books.
Have you ever been to Croatia?
Sadly no, never. But I’ve heard a lot of nice things about it.
Do you have an advice for young bartenders?
Start crawling before you run. Don’t immediately start with fermentation and such, start with the classics. Make sure you master your classics. And when you master the classics, you can go further. It’s like being a chef. There is no fusion cooking in the beginning, you start with the classics.
Thank you very much, Dries. We hope we will meet you at Bijou.
Yes, be my guest! And you’re welcome!