When Ballantine’s launched The Bar Project in France earlier this year, young mixologist Abderrahim El Asfar – known as “Abdou” – could only dream of his entry reaching the final stages and eventually being brought to life by Europe’s leading whisky brand.
However, last night, Abdou’s bar concept became reality, unveiled at a special launch event attended by some of Paris’s leading media and socialites.
“L’Epicerie” – Abdou’s imaginative bar concept which won the entrepreneurial competition with more than 50% of the public vote – is open to the public at popular Parisian nightspot “Le Chacha” now, opening Tuesday to Sunday for an exclusive six-week period.
Every week, customers will be able to join various sessions that will explore the characteristics of Ballantine’s, including the opportunity to sample some of the mixologists’ delicious concoctions that have been inspired by the whisky and its taste profile.
The bar is the product of a challenge set by Ballantine’s, inviting entrepreneurs from across France to submit their own vision for a dream bar.
The project saw more than 100 entries submitted via Facebook, which were whittled down to just three by a jury including Simon Baldeyrou, CEO of Deezer in France, and Laura Leonard, a renowned interior designer, the public vote then deciding the overall challenge winner.
El Afsar’s design is inspired by a traditional night market, in which customers are able to browse the ‘market’s’ evocative shelves, selecting their own ingredients which will then form the base of their cocktail. The mixologists behind the bar will then create an innovative whisky cocktail with these ingredients, selecting the most appropriate expression from the Ballantine’s range to match, which customers will be able to drink around the large host table that forms the centrepiece of the bar.
Peter Moore, Global Brand Director for Ballantine’s, said: “Given that our Founder George Ballantine is known to have created his first whisky in an ‘épicerie’ or delicatessen, it seems very fitting that it is this concept which we have been able to bring to life for the first time.
“The project has been so well received that it is to be repeated again in France next year and we have a number of other key markets who are also planning to run the competition. This means that more entrepreneurs around the world will have the chance to bring their own dream bar concept to life.”