After working at some of London’s most prestigious restaurants Denis Broci now resides over one of the world’s most reputable hotel bars.
Denis has developed a reputation for possessing the skill that goes into mixing the perfect drink, and even has the enviable role of being called upon by renowned Champagne houses to stock their drinks. Considered a rising star within the hospitality industry he has already won an award for being someone to watch, under the age of thirty. As well as running a team, he teaches the art of mixology.
We spoke to him about Claridge’s famous Champagnes and what his clientele expect from the famous venue.
You have worked at some prestigious establishments such as Brian Turner Mayfair, Maze and now Claridge’s. What have been the highlights of each?
Everywhere I work, I try to pick up key features of each.
Brian Turner is the kind of chef that focuses on traditional British Cuisine, whilst at Maze the base was French and the menu had strong Asian influences. Maze was very much concentrated on the food with Michelin standards and I was at a restaurant’s bar working very closely with the restaurant. Having the opportunity to work with a chef as creative as Jason Atherton, was an amazing experience.
Although it is very fun to be working within a restaurant’s bar, I always wanted to get to the pure bar side of it, so the opportunity to come and work at Claridge’s was fabulous for me. Although I was a manager at Maze, I really wanted to come into Claridge’s as an assistant manager and work under Daniel Bernoiter, who is now at The Savoy. Claridge’s is a different level to what I had experienced before and the clientele have very different expectations. Daniel had already been here for a few years and knew the clientele extremely well. Working closely with him gave me the opportunity to bond with the team, build an identity at the bar and connect with the clients.
You won an Acorn Award this summer for being a rising star of the hospitality industry, how did that feel?
I am not really someone who goes in search of awards, and my commitment is entirely based on doing my best at all times. I didn’t really realise what an amazing achievement that was until the awards ceremony. Especially as it is an award previously granted to great personalities such as Marco Pierre White, Marcus Wareing and Michael Caines, I couldn’t feel anything but proud of my team, who really made this possible.
What do your clientele look for when they come to Claridge’s Bar?
I think they come for the full experience; the interior’s art-deco feel, a very high-end service and high-end quality in drinks. Our team has a very strong bond with our clients, 60% of our clientele are regulars, and when they come to Claridge’s, they know they will be recognised and will get a personalised high-end service.
When talking about luxury hotel cocktail bars, customer expectations have changed a lot in the last few years and have now risen to a new level. That goes for the experience in full, it is not only limited to the drinks. A high-end experience in all senses is what makes them come back.
At Claridge’s Bar you have a special reputation for your Champagne selection. How did this evolve?
Claridge’s has a very diverse clientele in terms of nationalities, but we realised that one of the main categories they were interested in was Champagne. We started focusing on the Champagne offering, adding new products and increasing the staff’s Champagne training.
The key is to work directly with the houses to warrant quality. We now have a great selection of Champagnes by the glass, but the majority are divided by houses. We start with big houses such as: Veuve Cliquot, Moet & Chandon and Billet Garson. Then there are smaller boutiques and salons. We also feature a great selection of vintages, which our clients highly appreciate. We mainly focus on offering what our clients like to drink, even if it is a peculiar type of Champagne that has to be specially sourced.
What is your drink of preference?
It depends on my mood on the day. I would say my preferred categories are Champagne and dark spirits, such as a good whisky.
The hotel has a big heritage in terms of design, which is your preferred corner at Claridge’s?
I would have to say Claridge’s Bar, but I can’t really choose one area. Every time I look around the hotel or discover a new place within the building, the sensations are breathtaking.
The Fumoir has to be one of them, it has a 1920’s feel to it, Rene Lalique used to stay at
Claridge’s, so the Fumoir has an original Lalique panel from 1931. Last week I stopped by suite 212, which has just had some work done, but the historic feeling still remains. Winston Churchill declared it Yugoslavian territory for a day and a clod of Yugoslavian earth was laid under it so that Crown Prince Alexander II could be born on his own country’s soil. There is no way to choose one favourite though.