Graduate insight with Juliette Cothenet

Juliette Cothenet is one of our talented young former students. A 2023 graduate of the Bachelor’s Degree in International Hospitality and Restaurant Management, she was nominated as France’s Best Bartender just a few months ago, as judged by the “Association des Barmen de France“.

Graduate insight with Juliette Cothenet

Can you tell us about your career since leaving Institut Lyfe? 

In 2022, during my final year at Institut Lyfe, I took part in my first mixology competition: the National Cocktail Competition organised by the “Association des Barmen de France“. I won the title of vice-champion of France, which opened a lot of doors for me at the conclusion of my studies.

In particular, I was able to join the team at the legendary Harry’s New York Bar, in Paris: the oldest cocktail bar in Europe. At the same time, I was preparing for the Scott Cup, the competition to elect the best bartender in France. In the end I reached 5th place on that first attempt.

In April 2023, I joined La Maison de Bacon in Antibes as a bartender. It’s a gourmet restaurant that has, in the past, called on the services of Victor Delpierre, world mixology champion, to reimagine the concept of the bar offering. I am currently the head bartender there.

I still continue to take part in various national and international competitions.

What attracted you to the profession of bartender?

When I joined Institut Lyfe, I wanted to find a job that would allow me to travel. Finally, after exploring various professions in the hospitality and restaurant industry during hands-on work experience, I found a real interest in bartending.

I also have memories of a family stay in Nice, where I fell in love with the atmosphere of the bar we were in: there was a live music performance and the atmosphere was just irresistible.

The role of bartender offers everything I love: the opportunity to be creative by mixing flavours, while also refining the aesthetic appearance of everything we serve. I also appreciate the human contact aspect of the profession, and communicating my passion to customers.

Tell us about the business where you work and your responsibilities today.

I currently work in a gourmet restaurant specialising in seafood: La Maison de Bacon, located in Cap d’Antibes. It’s an institution that was founded in 1948 by the waterside, which has been completely renovated and is now a modern establishment in a sumptuous setting.

From this year, I have the role of head bartender. This position allows me design signature cocktails, manage product entries, supervise a team and also work on the opening of a rooftop location dedicated to mixology.

What do you think are the essential skills in your profession?

I think that the essential skills for a bartender are creativity and curiosity. These skills allow us to constantly innovate with regard to the techniques and flavours used. Interpersonal skills are also important, because we are lucky enough to be able to explain what we are doing directly to customers. This direct contact with the client makes it possible to bring real added value to the experience. 

What challenges have you had to face?

Most of the challenges I’ve had to face are related to taking part in cocktail competitions, but that’s also what motivates me. You have to be able to give your best both in the preparation for the competition and on the big day, when the pressure is on.

Each competition is different and what is expected of you is not the same: you have to be able to adapt. Competitions organised by brands, for example, will look for a lot of creativity and innovation, while competitions organised by Bartenders Associations, such as the Scott Cup, will have a more clinical eye on technique, accuracy of execution and professional knowledge. In any case, they are very rewarding occasions where I learn a lot, about myself and also about others.

Another challenge was working with products that I didn’t necessarily appreciate. I started bar work at the age of 20 and had to gradually educate my palate to appreciate some of the essential products of the trade. Working with tastes and flavours that you don’t like allows you to detach from your personal tastes and give your very best.

What are you most proud of?

I think that my professional career in general is a source of pride because I am very happy with the opportunities that have presented themselves to me and the choices I’ve made. The achievement that I’m most proud of is earning the title of best bartender in France in 2023: I worked hard to get it and my efforts were rewarded. I proved to myself that I was capable of it.

How has Institut Lyfe enabled you to achieve your current results?

Institut Lyfe has allowed me to achieve these results through the values that it instilled in me: the quest for excellence, believing in your dreams, giving yourself the right tools. All while staying humble.

Do you have a particular story from your studies at the institute?

The memory that I’ll never forget was the spark for the rest of my professional career. I told Alain Dauvergne, our mixology trainer, about my dream of becoming a Meilleur Ouvrier de France in the bartender category. He advised me to start out with national competitions to gain experience, and I obtained the title of vice-champion of France at the National Cocktail Competition in 2022. This memory is one that had a really positive effect on the beginning of my career.

Everything then happened very quickly, I met Victor Delpierre, world champion in mixology, who allowed me to join Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. I gained further experience in competitions, where I realised that this dream of becoming a Meilleur Ouvrier de France as a bartender was within my reach, as long as I gave myself the means to get there.

The victory in the Scott Cup in 2023 also proved to me that I could create my own space in this environment, and that perseverance would eventually pay off.

What are your ambitions for the future?

In the near future, I will be contributing to the development of a cocktail menu for the opening of a restaurant near Monaco. I will also have a role in the launch of a rooftop bar within the establishment where I currently work, offering refined cocktails made with high quality ingredients for a high-end clientele.

In the longer term, I would like to move into consulting and support establishments around the world. I have a lot of ideas, but what is certain is that I want to find diversity in my work and be able to travel thanks to it.

What would you say to students who want to get into the mixology industry?

I would tell them to go right ahead: the mixology industry is exciting and extremely diverse. It is impossible to get bored in this field, because you can work in so many different ways: in a grand hotel, a cocktail bar, at festivals, as a freelancer, etc.

It’s a profession that has existed for more than two centuries, but which is continually evolving thanks to the products, the techniques, the visuals. It is an environment where you can totally be yourself and express your personality, because that is what will make the client want to discover your work.

Are you passionate about the professions of bartender or sommelier? From the 3rd year, our Bachelor’s in International Hospitality and Restaurant Management allows you to acquire all the skills necessary to support hotels, restaurants and estates in the development of their operations.

Find out more about our Bachelor’s degree