Little Red Door in 2018: a Life After Remy Savage
Little Red Door without Remy Savage would once have been unthinkable, but since November, the Paris institution has had to carry on without its great mixologist. What has become of Little Red Door now Remy’s in London? We went to the bar to find out.
On October 5, Little Red Door was named the 11th best bar in the world, jumping 13 spots ahead of its 2016 ranking in the venerated World’s 50 Best Bars 2017. A great reward for a long-term job, which brings it closer to the prestigious top 10.
Remy Savage Walks Out The Little Red Door For The Last Time
The next day: a blow to the French bar community. The Cocktail Lovers announced the departure of Remy Savage, the man who gave Little Red Door its distinctive character (and the Best European Mixologist at the MIXOLOGY BAR AWARDS last year). A new adventure begins for this international celebrity bar at the renowned Artesian – the former five-time world’s best bar – accompanied by Anna Sebastian, ex-bar manager of the Beaufort Bar. Sadness on the Paris side, euphoria on the London side, and a big challenge for both parties, Remy Savage and Little Red Door.
Three months after the Remy Savage’s big move, life at Little Red Door continues on its way. At our last visit to meet the team, just a few days ago, the little red door that turns heads in the Marais district is still in its place. Inside, no change of scenery but behind the bar is something else: familiar faces and new faces. And the shadow of Remy Savage still lurking behind each cocktail.
Rory Shepherd Brings the Team Together
Our first question to the team: who succeeds Remy Savage as the star of the bar? Of course, the Scottish Rory Shepherd, who has been working with Remy Savage for a few years, took over the reins not only as operations manager on Little Red Door, but also on the other two institutions of the group which are being refreshed: Lulu White, a bar inspired by New Orleans in Pigalle and the recent Bonhomie bar-restaurant in the heart of Paris. Bartending at Little Red Door since 2015, Shepherd has already built up a nice CV, including a stint as bar manager at Library in London.
Indeed, this young bar manager has already formed a new team in full, with this famous multicultural touch that is the strength of the place: the British Calvin Politi as the new head bartender, straight from Bramble and recognized for his creativity and his exemplary organization, also from the UK, Emily Reynolds, a senior bartender with proven talent, the Italian Anthon Ipsilon, fresh from the Experimental Cocktail Club, the French contingent: Louis Lebaillif who learned his trade in London and Sydney, and Robin Davalo former head bartender at Lulu White, Londoners Charlotte Patricia Pederson of Original Sin and Oliver Cush of Happiness Forgets. The final member of the team comes from Lidkoeb in Copenhagen. Eight very distinct personalities who will bring a positive and creative energy to the new Little Red Door. As with any change of direction, some of the bar’s old team preferred to leave the ship, like the French Sarah Moudoulaud and the Spanish Keila Urzais, to join Remy Savage on his Artesian adventure.
A New Menu with Great Expectations
And the crucial next step for Little Red Door to keep its place at the top of the Parisian cocktail scene? The creation of its new cocktail menu, which is expected to be released in April. The bars two previous highly regarded menus – the Evocative Menu and A Menu of Applied Architecture – which Remy Savage designed with his team, have been responsible for much of Little Red Door’s international notoriety.
“For each menu, the idea is to build an experience and interaction with the customer.” says Dotan Shalev, the co-owner of Little Red Door. “Our cocktail menu requires a long process between visual conceptualization, the creation of cocktails and their history. The next stage is teamwork led by Rory, Calvin, new chef Chris [Smith] of Bonhomie, and myself. Each cocktail is imagined by a tandem with a different culture and background,” says Shalev. “Expect an even more interactive menu, with a fun and complex side that will focus on the theme of universality without forgetting the sustainability aspect.” No one at Little Red Door will give any more details for now. Let’s stay patient!
An Appetite for Experiments
But the menu is the only thing the team is keeping quiet about. The bar’s owners and Rory Shepherd happily share all the other changes Little Red Door has made, confirming that the bar hasn’t lost its experimental side. First, the acquisition of a rotovap (the only one in Paris since the bar Coq closed more than a year ago) that will bring new taste perspectives to the glasses of the house.
“We already have a number of homemade products. Today, our goal is to set up a general laboratory for the entire group, in collaboration with Chris [Smith], head chef at Bonhomie,” adds Dotan Shalev. As the popularity of innovative beers increases, Rory Shepherd also plans to create a series of beers for each establishment in collaboration with a local brewery, and in continuity with their first Pale Ale. “The idea is to make three beers with the personality of each bar that does not saturate the palate,” says Shepherd.
Opening the Little Red Door to the World
Another big challenge: the promotion of the bar internationally. As the face of Little Red Door, Remy Savage was actively involved in promoting the bar through guest bartending shifts around the world. Rory Shepherd plans to take over this role, alternating with different team members “Although I do not have the international reputation of Remy, I know many people around the world and in the industry. For me, what’s important is that Little Red Door keeps its reputation and notoriety that it has built for years.” The first event for the new Little Red Door is a five-day pop up at the Ritz Shanghai in late March, followed by other events in Asia.
No doubt the whole team is confident of Little Red Door’s future. For Dotan Shalev, “Little Red Door keeps the same creative soul and the same investment despite the change of team. The departure of Remy Savage is a big loss for us because it really represented something iconic for the bar. His absence motivates us to become even better.” We believe it.
Foto: Tom McGeehan