RÉGIS CELABE

A passionate cocktail artist for whom the container is as important as the drink it contains. Participant of Glassology by Libbey design contest where discovered a new world and a total new experience in the Glass industry. Régis is responsible for the unique Secret 8 by Buddha-Bar, Paris, a cabinet of curiosities with an intimate environment, where creativity and thinking out-the-box are the distinctive facts.

How do you introduce yourself at the bar when a new colleague joins the team? 

I work on my own at Secret 8, but when a new person joins one of the Buddha-Bar teams, I introduce myself as the person in charge of Secret 8, the Buddha-Bar Paris’s hidden bar.

What made you want to focus on the drinks industry?

Curiosity, the desire to grow and learn. Our drink industry is changing very quickly with new things every year: spirits, bar concepts, glassware, communication, etc.

Who is the person that inspired you the most?

I’m not really inspired by one particular person, but rather by all the bartenders and people I met.

But I still want to quote Sandrine Houdré-Grégoire and Matthias Giroud, who taught me a lot and always have been so supportive during my career in this industry.

You are the bar manager at Secret 8 by Buddha-Bar, which is a unique concept in France. Can you describe the feeling of working there? How did Libbey glassware help you to present your unique creations?

You access the bar with a password, which is a riddle that changes every month. We have a diverse and original collection of glasses, a capacity of only 25 seats and decoration and music that has nothing to do with the Buddha-Bar’s identity. Secret 8 by Buddha-Bar is one of the unique places in Paris.

Working there is something different than what I’ve experienced in the past, but very pleasant.

You must be multi-functional and very independent to work at Secret 8.

I work alone without any bartenders or waiters helping me; I take care of all cocktail menus, bar set up, cocktails’ production, serving the drinks, welcoming customers at the door by asking them for the password, bookings on the phone during the evening but also cleaning the whole place. It is as if it’s my own bar, but it’s not! I invest a lot of “myself” in this bar!

Working at Secret 8 requires strong self-involvement, a desire to succeed and strong creativity due to its cocktail identity.

I am fortunate to have managers that let me express my creativity, especially in terms of glassware.

The cocktail menu has 11 cocktails and therefore, 11 different glasses. LIBBEY has a very diverse range of glassware, with very different designs, which can be very inspiring. I love some of the LIBBEY ranges because they can tell a story through the design or shape of the glass, which helps a lot for the cocktail’s identity of the Secret 8.

Which cocktail (you created) are you most proud of?

More than 13 years ago, when I was working at the Murano Hotel, my bar manager asked me to work on a cocktail made from green peas, and a few hours later, “Bili Bili” was born. In these years, it was audacious to use green beans in a cocktail in France 😉

Which cocktail is the one you have made the most during the years?

Mojito! A timeless classic.

What’s your favorite classic cocktail?

Pimm’s Cup, low alcohol, fresh and easy to drink.

The most underestimated drink in the industry?

I want to say cider.

We’re starting to see some cider brands on the market, but it’s still very discreet. I love to drink cider, and I find it very interesting to create cocktail recipes with it.

Which ingredient will be used far more in the future?

Short-circuit products and ingredients from local producers.

Favorite glass shape to drink from? And Why?

I like the shape of an old-fashioned glass, easy to drink, good grip, wide enough to drink straight from the glass and most of the time you don’t need to use a straw.

Why is the glass that important for a drink?

I like to compare the cocktails universe to the fashion universe.  A dress needs a model to be highlighted, and the same goes for the cocktail! The glass complements the drink. One does not go without the other.

What is your favorite Libbey glass?

I had a real crush on your LEVITAS range: minimalist, refined, elegant. During a photo shoot, the rendering is very interesting with light.

Glass: Durable or Fragile?

As a bar manager, I would say durable, but I would say fragile as a bartender and artist. The fragile glasses are much thinner than a durable glass and therefore more pleasant to the touch or when you drink your cocktail. A thin glass will have a personality and will play easier with the light during a cocktail photo shoot.

You were one of the contestants at the first ‘Glassology by Libbey’ 2016-2017. Can you share the feeling of being part of this contest and what the contest brought to you?

I am very sensitive to projects that require a sense of aesthetics and imagination. When I heard about Glassology by Libbey, I said to myself: a competition that has nothing to do with the other cocktail competitions! I have to try it!

Even though I didn’t make it to the final, I’m proud to have been able to participate because I discovered a world that I did not know and met great people within the Libbey company and selected bartenders.

We can talk about a Glassology Family 😉

Which cocktail book would you advise other bartenders to read? 

The “Cocktail Book” by Florian Thireau, a very talented and perfectionist French bartender.

This new technical and creative book has just been released in September 2020 and will become a must-have in our collection.

Which book would you read over and over again?  (cocktails or non-cocktails)

I’m going to get out of the bar industry and go to a geekier universe: the collection of “Saint Seiya” manga books. Ever since I was a child, I am a huge fan of this universe, which mixes mythology and fantasy.

If you could travel back in time, who would you like to meet and why?

I would love to be able to experience the beginning of the Moulin Rouge Paris and the years with the famous and extravagant nights!

If you could go back in time and change any existing/classic cocktail glass, which glass would you change and why?

To be honest …. I wouldn’t change any of them. It’s because of what has been created in the past that we have all these diverse cocktail glasses today.

All the inspirations from the past tell a story and I think it’s very important to preserve that heritage.

As Nolo, classic cocktails, simple serves were trending, what do you think will be the next trend?

A strong co-working between kitchen chefs and bartenders. Real teamwork to bring our industry to the same level as the one of the culinary industry.

We are living in an unprecedented time, how are you dealing with this?

When the confinement came, it forced me to stop professionally on the physical level and breathe a little because our industry requires a lot of physical effort: night shifts, long days, sometimes a few days off, and to be honest, it made me feel good. I really need it!

The Secret 8 was closed several months since March 2020; this stop allowed me to take a step back on my career and take stock of my progress: how I want to move forward, with whom, what I want to do and what I no longer wish to do…

This is a period of reflection, which is not easy, because it’s very complicated to project ourselves into the future, but we have to get out of our routine and try new things

Two points are very important in our industry and this pandemic proves it to us:

  • Hygiene and sanitary standards, particularly for all the homemade products, for example. Many venues now make their own syrups, infusions and sometimes even distillations. Still, all of this involves being blameless in the way we work because we have a responsibility towards our customers’ health. Hygiene and sanitary rules must be well respected, which is not always the case in some establishments.
  • Customer service: this is the base of our industry, we must not forget it and keep focusing on that point.

What did you miss the most during the lock-down?

Space!

Staying locked in a 15 square meter studio in Paris was not easy every day, but luckily, I had my little bunny Muxu with me J

What was the first thing you have done when the bars opened?

I went to the Copper Bay Bar to see my friend Aurélie and then had brunch at the Divine Bar with her on a Sunday! I love the brunch at “Divine” on Sundays, a must-try!

What will be the one major change in the Hospitality in general, after the pandemic?

Listen even more to our staff and make them feel good about their work environment, so that they can thrive. This pandemic reminds us of the importance of being there to support our staff in difficult times.

What can be an awesome invention that will emerge in the Hospitality from this crisis? (You can be silly here 😊, think science fiction)

Teleportation! No more planes, cars or trains to get around!

That could be amazing… to wonder where I could go for a good drink tonight? Asia, Europe, Oceania,…. and to be there in just a few seconds!!!

What tips will you give other bartenders and bar owners to prepare for the future?

Think less about the “star system” and keep focusing on respect, sharing and caring for each other.

 

Photo credit: Cédric Jappont

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