Dublin’s Café en Seine will re-open in November following an extensive makeover, and its cocktail options are not to be sniffed at.
Café en Seine will introduce an indoor-outdoor Parisian-inspired street garden to the iconic venue, while bars will be spread across seven areas, and serve everything from local favourites to high end beers, spirits and cocktails.
Demonstrating just how dedicated they are to getting things right on the drinks front, Café En Seine enlisted the help of London ‘scientists’ from The Crucible, a workspace for bartenders that looks more like a laboratory.
Crucible founder Stuart Bale takes a scientific approach to cocktails - Crucible are all about the science of flavour, and explore drinks at a microscopic level of detail.
Also part of the drinks menu development team is World Class and Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador, Nial Molloy, who works with Tanqueray No. TEN, Ketel One Vodka, Bulleit Bourbon and more recently Roe & Co.
F&W chatted to Stuart and Nial about what to expect from the new Cafe en Seine, and how science and art combine to create a drinks menu that will have everyone talking…
Inspiration for a drinks menu comes from many diverse places - a particular drink may be inspired by a song or an historical figure, according to Stuart.
Nial tells F&W that the original goal for Café en Seine is to achieve ‘high concept cocktails’ - they are looking at current trends within the drink culture of Ireland and then looking to marry them with innovating trends across the pond in London and Europe.
During the brainstorm for Café en Seine the team discussed how some very high-calibre bars sometimes fall short by taking themselves and their cocktail preparation too seriously. Going out for cocktails or to eat should be a “fun, indulgent experience” he adds, so “our program will reflect both the relaxed, debonair atmosphere of Paris, mixed with the fun-loving Irish warmth of Dublin!”
Customers can expect “World Class drinks but with none of the fuss”
A winning combination of Stuart’s scientific detail surrounding every sip and a 100% premium drinks menu that is being led by the World Class portfolio of spirits (brands like Ketel One Vodka, Tanqueray No. Ten gin and Roe&Co Irish Whiskey), guests can expect thoughtful, sophisticated drinks.
There will be drinks tailored to every palate and “every time of day”, and for Stuart the importance of understanding the chemical reactions that are taking place in a mixed drink become vital to the consumer experience.
“We don’t want customers to be overwhelmed by this science however” Nial says, “but rather be excited at the simplicity at which it is presented to them. Through flavour. Through Texture. Through taste.”
Saying all that, the team stress that ultimately they want the drinks experience of Café en Seine to be enjoyable, “so we don't want guests waiting 20 minutes to get their cocktails”, Stuart adds.
The process of creating a drinks menu - Crucible London-style! - starts from a simple idea
"We start from a creative and artistic place", explains Stuart, "and then we identify and employ the right techniques and tools to get us there. We use a variety of methods to achieve what we want, some of which are more modernist or innovative (or some would call scientific), and some of which are much more straightforward."
While the cocktail scientists assure us the drinks menu will read simply, they also say it will include "simple sous vide infusions through to scientifically prepared spirits and ingredients, and there will be a natural emphasis on preparation."
"Much like a chefs approach to fine dining", says Nial.
For World Class Ambassador Nial, his role in Café en Seine's relaunch is to bring all the teams together on the project
With over 25 years experience in the bartending industry, Nial worked at Liam O'Dwyer's Capital Bars Group (which included Café en Seine, among others) during its opening years, and he tells F&W that to "be involved in its reinvention is an honour", adding that Café en Seine is a place that has inspired him for many years.
A passionate figure in the Irish hospitality sector, Nial says he is driven by the World Class ambition of a better drinking culture for Ireland and will play a key role in Café en Seine's new bar team.
"For me, it’s about investing in the right people, giving them the freedom to be their best and trusting that it will all come together. In short, my process is quite simple, find the best people for the job and guide them towards the vision of the collective team.
"I feel we have created a very special team and project and with Crucible at the helm, it can only be a success."
With the combined experience of Stu and his team, who have globally recognised notches on their belts (Punch Room @ Edition, Colebrooke Row, Happiness Forgets, White Lyan to name but a few), this is sure to be a cocktail menu the likes of which will be hard to beat.