Meet Jeremy Le Blanche, the genius bartender bringing French flair to the Big Apple
World Best Bar
Nov 26, 2020
10 January 2019
French-born Jeremy Le Blanche is as talented as they come. At just 29 years old, the young cocktail prodigy has had a brilliant career that took him from France to Switzerland, Australia, the UK (where Roman Jehanno shot his portrait during his tenure as head bartender at German Gymnasium) and NYC.
We last caught up with Jeremy back in April 2020 for the World’s Best Bars x Savoir-Faire Project. Since then, he has moved on from Queensyard to start a fresh new chapter at Thyme Bar, Flatiron’s newest underground hideaway, where he became head bartender in July. Together, they launched the Thyme Bar Experience, an outdoor prix fixe menu aiming to “explore the limits of mixology artistry” by turning artisan cocktails into an exclusive fine dining experience.
This is just the latest in a long series of ways Jeremy has managed to bring his passion for art and gastronomy to life. A true labor of love, his singular approach to mixology explores how one simple drink can become a masterpiece that triggers all of our senses at once.
In the following interview, we’ve asked him a few questions about his bartending style, his pro tips and tricks to make perfect cocktails at home, and what’s next for Thyme Bar.
Hello Jeremy and thank you for answering our questions! How have you been doing since we last spoke in April?
Hi WBB, I’m doing good, so far. Trying to make something happen during this crisis.
For those who don’t know you, could you quickly run us through your resume?
I’ve been bartending for the past 8 years, traveling a little bit all over the globe, from France to Switzerland, Australia, London and now New York. I’m the bar director at Thyme Bar, an underground speakeasy based in Manhattan.
In terms of cocktail making, how would you describe your M.O.? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I find my inspiration everywhere I can get inspired. It can be chefs, fashion, museums, street art, and also social media.
What can one expect when stepping inside Thyme Bar? What is it that makes the venue special?
Thyme Bar is a speakeasy bar focused on flowers and botanicals. Our menu is divided in two categories:
– Le Jardin, based on easy drinking cocktails such as Gin & Tonics, Mojitos, Mules, but all with a twist and element of interaction, and also very approachable price wise.
– Floriography (the language of flowers through art), which exhibits cocktails with original garnishes, flavours, and glassware. These drinks are slightly more expensive but we want to give the choice to our customers: having a proper cocktail experience or just a simple and cool drink.
Tell us a bit more about the Thyme Bar Experience. How was the idea born? What has the reception been like?
I spent 4 months creating this list and I couldn’t wait to launch it. But the question was, how? No one knew about us, and launching this concept of drinks would have been very tough during the pandemic. We had to find a solution to attract people to the place without expecting any walk-ins, and ensure it was worth it to open. So far it’s been 3 months since we started running the Thyme Bar Experience and the feedbacks are very positive.
The bar has also been making “Thyme2go” bottled cocktails, available to order online, since the beginning of the pandemic. Do you think to-go cocktails are here to stay?
Very tricky question. Some of the people say yes, some say no. We will keep doing it until we won’t be allowed to, that’s for sure. We just launched our 500-bottle limited edition “Water of Youth” as a luxury cocktail to go. The design and drink are beautiful.
As a new head bartender having to come to grips with such crazy times, what is your vision for Thyme Bar’s near future?
We will keep working hard to maintain the business but also continue to deliver the best service possible to our guests until this is over. Then, our main objective for 2021 is to reach the World’s 50 Best and be considered for awards.
More broadly, are you hopeful that the bar industry can keep coming up with new ways to reinvent itself in the face of these ever-changing circumstances?
Definitely. It is our job to re-think and re-imagine the concept of the bar today by being more careful, cleaner, and keeping our clientele interested about discovering new cocktail experiences and having fun through these circumstances. It is a real challenge, but I do believe passionate bartenders will make the difference and come up with some very interesting and new ways to enjoy a cocktail.
For all our readers who can’t make it to their nearest bar right now, what are the must-have spirits and ingredients one should always have to make great cocktails at home?
It depends a lot on everyone’s taste and the moment you want to enjoy your drink.
If it’s before your dinner, then something not too alcohol-forward such as Amaro, orange liqueur, bitters, which will still bring flavour and balance to your drink, and you can dilute with a mixer (tonic, soda, ginger ale etc..). After dinner, I would say a brown spirit that has enough character to match all of the flavours you had during your meal. You can also easily mix it with your pre-dinner aperitif.
Can you tell us one ingredient you wish more people knew about?
Oud. I discovered this resin a couple of years ago and started to work with it a year ago. A bit pricy, but fascinating flavour.
How about an ingredient that’s well-known, but underrated?
Tonka bean (illegal in the U.S.) . It is one of my favourite ingredients that matches with many flavours and brings a lot of complexity to your drink.
What is your favorite cocktail to make at home and why?
Negroni. Very Easy to make, balanced, and you can still play with flavours using different brands.
Can you give us a pro bartending tip to impress our friends?
To keep it simple. Try to focus on the smallest details going into your drink and explain the reason behind everything. The more information you collect, the more details you provide, the better the experience.
Thank you so much for your time Jeremy. One last question: do you have a message for all the bartenders reading us around the world?
The message is simple: stay united through this tough period. All small businesses are suffering but without our guests, we wouldn’t exist. I do believe that if we, our family, our team, get through this hard time, nothing will stop us in the future.
Stay strong, stay hospitable and keep your smile under your mask.