Cocktail making is certainly an art, and we’re talkin’ about more than just vodka sodas. We’re talking about designer drinks; creative concoctions made with handcrafted syrups and liquors. We recently had the opportunity to catch up with one of the city’s champions of cocktails…
Allow us to introduce you to Julien Salomone, co-owner and mixologist of East Thirty-Six.
While the restaurant is full service, since opening back in 2014, East Thirty-Six has stayed true to its vision as a cocktail focused destination. And Julien Salomone certainly has the experience to make the vision work. Salomone went to hospitality school in the South of France. With now almost two decades of experience working behind the bar, on the restaurant circuit and as a competitive mixologist, today Salomone is the co-owner of East Thirty-Six and Church St. favourite, Boutique Bar.
We had the opportunity to chat with him about why owning a restaurant isn’t as glamorous as you may think, the three restaurants you must visit before you die, and what he’s drinking at home. Take a peek at his answers below.
How did you get your start in the industry?
My first job was at Hôtel Martinez in Cannes. I worked my way up, eventually going on to work at other five-star hotels on the Riviera. I had an opportunity to learn from the best old school guys – almost 20 years later and some of them are still behind the bar.
How would you describe your mixologist style?
I’m pretty old school, I guess it’s the old world in me. I’m all about balance and my drinks tend to not be too complicated – you’d never find a million ingredients. I want people to taste everything in their drink.
What’s your favourite cocktail on your current menu and why?
The Rum Row – we make our own spiced rum and ginger syrup. We also use an apricot liqueur from France, plus lime juice and a splash of tonic. It’s not your typical rum cocktail.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about the restaurant/bar industry?
I don’t know if this still exists, but the glamorization of owning restaurants. People think of it like it’s a pastime – since they love food, drinking and the atmosphere, etc. It can be super rewarding, but It’s hard work, just know what you’re getting into!
What’s your go-to meal and cocktail to make at home?
I make an awesome carbonara, and my favorite cocktail would be a Manhattan.
What are three restaurants our readers need to try before they die?
East Thirty-Six obviously! And in Oia, Santorini there’s this amazing hidden gem called 218 degrees. Delicious fresh fish, and some of the best views I’ve ever seen with a super reasonable price point, especially with a million-dollar view. I must also show love to my French side – everyone needs to go to Monaco at some point and eat at Le Louis XV, a Ducasse restaurant at l’Hôtel de Paris.
What’s one tip our readers should know to up their own game in their kitchen/bars?
Keep it simple and super fresh – quality ingredients can make the difference in any dish or cocktail.
If there was one thing in the food industry you could change, what would it be?
No industry is perfect, certainly not the restaurant one. I’m not going to go down that rabbit hole!
How do you think Toronto (and/or Canada’s) culinary/cocktail scene will evolve in the future?
Toronto’s scene is always evolving, it’s amazing how much it has changed in just the 12 years or so I’ve been here. That’s what’s great about it. We have so many cultures in this city and are always pulling from trends around the world.
Are there any other mixologists you’d like to see profiled? Let us know in the comment section or tweet us at @Viewthevibe.