Antony Bertin, the merlin enchanter of rum

Head bartender at the Michelin-starred Castelbrac Hotel in Dinard, Antony Bertin is one of the most creative figures of the French cocktail scene today. A keen competitor, this golden-fingered personality was noted for his inventive creations with American whiskey when he won “Bartenders Contest by Brown Forman” in 2017. French rum is a major source of inspiration for this shaker maestro, who has created countless videos highlighting his concoctions and poetic cosmos. Meeting with a cocktail spirit!

Antony Bertin

Laurence Marot: When did rum come your way?

Antony Bertin: As an amateur, I always drank rum with friends. As a professional, my knowledge and palate have evolved and perfected through my participation in various rum brand competitions: the Havana Club Grand Prix in 2016 and Bartenders Society with Saint-James three times, a rock’n’roll competition that gave me the opportunity to master the aromatic qualities of agricultural rum. And the latest, the first edition of the Barceló Organic Dominican Republic Rum Competition, which was held in video mode during the last confinement.

What is your favorite rum style?

I am very connected to French rum and especially Martinique rum. Pure cane juice is for me the most inspiring rum for creations because of its floral and very expressive against other categories. We have four cocktails based on Martinique rum: Saint-James worked in mojito and ti-punch, Clément rum and La Favorite. I’m lucky enough to be partnered with a wine shop in Lannion that lets me choose some rare vintages of La Favorite for the bar.

What are the rum-based cocktail trends today?

The milk punch, revisited with rum, seems to me the most popular cocktail among bartenders. It’s a very original preparation process that brings out all the flavors of rum. Today, cocktails based on this exotic spirit work at two speeds: the first, the bar classics like the daiquiri, an easy to make drink; the second, the eccentric cocktails that display a real search for flavors and surprising visuals, food pairing style.

Antony Bertin

What are your latest rum favourites?

Without hesitation, Mafana, a French rum based on Dominican amber rum macerated with mafane wormwood, an emblematic flower of Madagascar. Its particularity? A totally electrifying effect in the mouth. Very surprising! I propose it in a cocktail called Electric, accompanied by Electric Velvet liqueur signed H.Theoria and Rooibos tea soda, and set up in a glass bedside lamp. In second place, I would say the Hampden must-have. I’m getting more and more interested in Jamaican rum. It’s a big hit with our after dinner clientele for its explosive flavor profile.

You spoke to us earlier about the Barceló Organic Rum competition that you won by a landslide. What was the concept of this first edition? Describe your winning cocktails.

The concept was based on the eco-responsible spirit. I proposed two cocktails: Daïquiri Ó, a reinterpretation of this great Cuban classic with Breton flavors composed of Ron Barceló Organic, verjuice, Breton buckwheat honey and apple compote from Saint-Malo. My challenge: to imagine a cocktail without a container and zero waste. This creation took me a lot of time. I imagined four “bubbles” in the shape of mini apples on a custom-made block of ice. The second cocktail was a revisited orange rum, called Orange Organic (a nod to the movie) which I used to drink when I was younger and which has a rather negative image like whisky and coke. I reworked it in a modern and eco-responsible way. The emptied orange acts as a container. I added to the rum and strained orange juice a locally inspired homemade ingredient, a Breton palet syrup that adds texture and buttery notes. I finalized the garnish with an orange essence foam and soy lecithin to bring maximum volume and lightness to the cocktail.

Antony Bertin

Are you preparing other competitions in the coming months?

I have entered 14 competitions and won first prize in six. I haven’t found any upcoming competitions that would motivate me yet. The only one that really interests me is the Meilleur Ouvrier de France. This is the next challenge I plan to take on in a few years.

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