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Emanuele Balestra, the Alchemist of Mixology


If there are people enthusiastic about their profession, Emanuele Balestra is undoubtedly one of them. Now the master mixologist at the bar of Fouquet's at the Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic in Cannes, this globe-trotter and botany enthusiast offers a truly avant-garde approach to creating his cocktails.

You currently work as the master mixologist at the bar of Fouquet's at the Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic in Cannes. Tell us about your career.
I left Italy at the age of 19 and began my bartending career in France at Club Med in Opio and Val d'Isère. After two seasons, I moved to Belgium where I met Giuliano Gianotti, who introduced me to oenology, and then to Scotland where I discovered the world of whisky. In 2008, I became the bar director at the Trump Tower in Chicago with the Liquid Kitchen concept, where I started working on creating syrups and jellies to enhance my cocktails in a unique way. Then, at the end of 2009, I participated in the opening of La Mamounia in Marrakech, where I could introduce a clientele unfamiliar with the magic of spirits. There, the 2 hectares of vegetable garden offered me numerous possibilities. I then spent 8 months in Mauritius where I met Jérôme Faure, who is now a great friend and introduced me to some excellent wines. Finally, at the end of 2014, I arrived in Cannes with the idea of continuing my plant-related project. I began studying botany and insects, which I find fascinating! I am also releasing a second book on botany and edible flowers at the end of the year. My goal is to understand nature in order to work with it and develop a true emotion in my cocktails. Additionally, for the past 10 years, I have installed beehives on the roofs of the Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic to stimulate the growth of my plants, and I work with its two aromatic gardens.

For your cocktails, you have created your own edible perfumes, with your own plants, in partnership with the Maison Robertet perfumery. Can you describe the process?
For the past 5 years, I have been working in my laboratory at the Majestic on an ultrasonic maceration, which allows the creation of beautiful aromas. Then, I distill my solution at low pressure. As for Maison Robertet, located in Grasse, they have kindly introduced me to the art of perfumery.

My aim is to create edible perfumes so that the olfactory experience enhances the gustatory pleasure. I also collaborate with the glassmakers of Biot, with whom I blow glasses that allow you to first smell and release the olfactory perfumes. I also create ceramic glasses with the potter Tino Aiello, with whom I work on glasses that retain the cold.


You also create your own beer, La Blanche du Majestic. Tell us about it.
I created a botanical beer, brewed in Italy (Extraomnes), with bitter orange and coriander seeds that bring a fresh taste, but also with rose geranium, extracted using ultrasound. It is a very light beer, 4.8%, with a bit of bitterness and low carbonation. It is only available at the Hotel. I also make gins, lemongrass jasmine sodas, and I am currently working on an herbal liqueur.

Do you work on cocktail and food pairings?
I collaborate a lot with Pierre Gagnaire, for whom I made, for example, a beet soda, and Jean Montagard, a specialist in vegetarian cuisine. I have created aromas of country bread, purple asparagus...

I always work with magnificent professionals. I love people, having exchanges, and learning.

Interview by Sandy Bénard-Ravosier