Written by Pascal Thibault-Desparois
I’m Pascal Thibault-Desparois, a Canadian from Montreal in my mid-twenties. I decided a couple of years ago to move to Edinburgh, Scotland, to have a look at what the other side was doing and, if possible, get a job in a cool bar.
My love for the bar started with my passion for quality, great food and drink, craft beer and, of course … THE PARTYYYYY!!!
So I arrived in Scotland with nothing on my CV relating to bar experience, except for a note that I’d stuck at the end, saying: “I really, really, really enjoy drinks!!”
Luckily for me, my big break came when I was hired by a top bar in town for my “good taste in beer’’ and my “joie de vivre’’. I started working there as part-time waiter, part-time student behind the bar.
My life suddenly changed when I was introduced to the world of fine spirits: gin, rum, whisky and so many more incredible drinks. This is how my passion for the bar developed over the past two years, in learning about, and experimenting with, the world’s best spirits. I discovered the transformations that can happen and the experiences that can be created with a bit of knowledge and some simple and clever tricks of the trade. I started to understand what each of the different bottles could contribute to a great cocktail and it was truly like becoming an insider in the Magic Circle of the bar.
There are several sides to appreciating the differences within spirits categories: how their taste profiles differ as a result of varied production processes, their constituent ingredients and, of course, their romantic histories ‘secret monk’s manuscript from 1605, vineyard mint from Lebanon, secret ingredients to be guessed at…’.
This knowledge took a while to build and, during this time, I began to get ever closer to my lifelong dream of being able to stand at a world class bar in my James Bond tuxedo, ordering exactly the right drink and knowing exactly why I wanted it. Whilst, at the same time of course, looking bad-ass super-fly cool. If you know how to order the good stuff you have the edge over the villains.
And after being on the other side of the bar fence for a while, I started to get a new perspective on the magic that happens…
Buzz of the bar
The pace of top bar work is fast, really fast. If you are not well-prepared you can easily get overwhelmed, turning a fun shift into your worst nightmare. Working behind a bar can make you dislike everybody and love them in practically the same instant. Sometimes it’s the customer, sometimes your manager, sometimes your colleagues, sometimes hunger, thirst or all of the above in a maelstrom of emotions. For me though this is always far outweighed by the buzz of the job. No matter how tough a shift has been, the post-game high and the respect that you have for your hard-working colleagues, is like savouring one of the best beers on the planet.
Over the past two years I have made so many great friends, had so many great experiences and have learnt more than I could have ever imagined. This has inspired me to become a truly world class bartender, one of the greats. And thus I have enrolled in, and have recently started, The European Bartender School in Barcelona (EBS).
When I applied for the EBS I had no idea really what was waiting in store for me and let me tell you, in my first week here I have had one BIG MOTHER of a surprise…