Originally from Dijon, France, Charles Vexenat, made his name on the London bartending scene, notably at The Lonsdale, where he was named Mixologist of the Year at Tales of the Cocktail 2008. He's also worked at LAB, Che and Hix, guest-tended at PDT, and consulted on the development of a variety of new products. After 12 years of travelling, now 32, he's made the Balearic island of Ibiza his home, and just opened the absinthe-led Bar 1805. How are you finding life in Ibiza? I've been here a year now. I'd been travelling so much that I was looking for a lifestyle with no stress and sunshine. People here take time to do things, there's no stress, and you've got your car and motorbike so you don't need to take public transport. I'm learning a new language, and getting better and better - I understand pretty much everything now and can talk to people. It's very exciting, like when I arrived in the UK and didn't speak English. Everyone knows about the Ibiza clubbing scene, but what are the bars like? The biggest clubs can fit 10,000 people - like Pascha or Amnesia - and that's happening every day for 4-5 months, really intense. The other side of life here is all-day-long cafes, bistros and bars which are all over the island. When I arrived, I saw some really good potential for opening a business - something that doesn't exist. Most of the bars here serve the same thing, Woo Woos, Sex on the Beach, very basic and very badly done. I wanted to create something more visual and interesting, though still simple and affordable that appeals to consumers not bartenders. I remember you talking about creating an anise-influenced bar in London a few years ago. When I did the Lonsdale menu it had a great impact and I got great exposure, and in the back of my mind I wanted to do the same thing with a vintage French project, to do the research like I did for the Lonsdale, so yeah, Bar 1805 is a bit of that. I was always intrigued by absinthe when I was a young bartender. We always drank pastis and Ricard when I was a kid so the flavours were there for a long time. Then I started doing consultancy for Pernod Absinthe two years ago and clarified in my mind its history and how it's made. Describe Bar 1805's approach to drinks. I wanted the cocktail to be very visual, no need for history here. The longer refreshing serves reflect the culture and climate. People don't want a Manhattan, Martini or any stirred drinks. The idea is that even though absinthe doesn't please everybody I try and show it works with as many different flavours as possible. It works with everything if it's mixed well, but you have got to be careful - more than one shot and you are going to over-power the drink. Why's it only open 180.5 days? We found this place in the old part of Ibiza town. It's got a lot of historical value, and there's a great cafe round the corner that's been open 30 years. The owner didn't want to reopen for the season so we rented it off him. When we close we'll take the concept back. The plan is to keep the concept going if it works, in a new guise, in a new place. The food is starting in May and that will bring people. How have you changed as a bartender, with all your international exposure? You have to do two things. Learn, by opening books and listening to mentors, and travel, to see what others are doing and how things are changing. I was quick to learn from different peers. It all happened suddenly: I met the right people, began visiting distilleries. I don't even know how many I have been to now, it could be 50. That gave me a lot of maturity. I used to be very picky and geeky about cocktails and history. Now I am more relaxed and making a living out of it, with less geekiness. What advice would you give to your younger self? It's nice to have a palate for drinks but the most important thing is customer service. That will gain you more maturity than being focused on what you make and being like a monkey in a cage. What's the plan now? The idea is I work in Ibiza for six months of the year and travel for brands and do education the rest of the time. I've got no plans to go back to the UK or France. I am a really happy person now.
1805 is back this season with a badass new spot in Ibiza Town, thank god. Find them getting tank-fly-boss-walk-jam-nitty-gritty in the backstreets of Sa Penya, yo. Make your way up two flights of stone steps next to the Croissant Show and look for a huge illuminated 1805 sign, a white-washed terrace and French accents: you’ve made it. Relax in the denim bathtub benches or kick-back at the romantic top-table with a twist. This Bohemian cave is cluttered with oil lamps, French children’s books and a large vintage cocktail shaker collection, not to mention the absinthe fountains and unique glassware… my god these guys take it seriously. When it comes to the booze many will be glad to know that the Green Beast didn’t get lost in the move. The absinthe favourite will still be served from its trademark birdcage, but it’s got some competition; BarChick drank the Coca Collins and has barely slept since (lemon, sugar, gin infused mate de coca and sparkling water). Tuck into the fail safe moules frites (if it ain’t broke don’t fix it) or branch out with a foie gras burger. Fine cuisine and jam-jar cocktails in Sa Penya; thug life forever.
What: Bar 1805
Who: Charles Vexenat
Why: Vexenat had been travelling with work and discovered an opportunity for a pop-up bar in Ibiza, so took the chance to open a site. ‘I actually found it very easy to set up a company in Spain – I was offered the opportunity to rent a site that was 80% ready to go. It was a short-term lease, we could run it for 180.5 days only – hence the name – but I could see what was possible there and knew it would get great international exposure. Ibiza is an appropriate place to open a bar because it has a great history with crafting herbal spirits and liqueurs like absinthe or the local hierbas, so it fitted in with my areas of interest. The biggest challenge was to take the site and open a pop-up bar in just 10 days, with a look and feel we were happy with. The red tape wasn’t an issue, we had all the EU regulations in order. But there were other challenges – we were due to open the bar on the 6 April and only signed the lease for the site the day before. Then, on the same day, we had a huge hailstorm, which resulted in the bar flooding – not ideal one day before opening. The other bar owners in town told us it was a sign of good luck for the season! ‘I was surprised by people’s enthusiasm for the absinthe drip and cocktails, especially the Green Beast (an absinthe and lime punch) – the absinthe fountain was a total magnet. It was one of the many successes of the project and I’m keen to do more. I’m going to carry on travelling the world and making cocktails for different clients, but the show must go on for Bar 1805. We are currently looking for another site in Ibiza for 2013.’ Serving: Absinthe in everything.
Calle Santa Lucia, is a buzzing, hole-in-the-wall joint called Bar 1805 (bar1805ibiza.com), so-called because it’s open 180.5 days a year (the high season), serving funky French plates like smoked salmon tartines and moules et frites. Founder Charles Vexenat took just eight days to put the place together, and an eclectic crowd of customers, some on laptops, wearing slogan tees and sporting funky afros, look like they’re in for the night. It’s got a great energy and with none of the glam-bling I’ve been finding elsewhere in the centre.
Open till late
Bar 1805 in Ibiza Town is so named because it’s only open for half the year – 180 days plus a half, geddit? It’s the brainchild of Charles Vexenat a multi award winning French barkeep who is greatly revered in the industry. Nestled in the shadow of Ibiza’s Old City it’s a homage to absinthe and the avant-garde artistic life. Absinthe cocktails and French bistro food are the perfect combo here with super cool sounds and eclectic décor making for a unique atmosphere evoking the bohemian spirit of Ibiza before the package tours arrived. It’s a must on a night out in the Old City.
Drinking in Ibiza can be an expensive leisure pursuit, which is why it is important to bunker down at a reputable bar to get your money’s worth, writes Johnny Lee. 1. Babel, San Antonio Old Town Arguably the best Mojitos in Ibiza are served at Babel, a small family run tavern situated in a quiet backstreet a few blocks from the promenade in San Antonio. To make their Mojitos, brothers Ruben and Ivan use a giant Cuban press to squash lime chunks, brown sugar and mint leaves into a sweet, aromatic pulp, unleashing every possible flavour. In fact, Babel’s Mojitos are staggeringly good, so be warned. 2. 1805, Ibiza Town, near Dalt Vila Located in the centre of Eivissa’s beautiful old town, beneath the looming shadow of Dalt Vila, Bar 1805 is an artistic, Absinthe inspired, bohemian grotto where guests are encouraged to design their own cocktails. Order a Green Beast or a Russian Spring Punch and marvel at the delicious creation that arrives at your table. 3. Ibiza Rocks House / Pikes Hotel, Outskirts of San Antonio Recently rebranded by Ibiza Rocks, Pikes Hotel remains one of the most iconic venues on the island. This is where Wham! filmed the music video for their hit song Club Tropicana, and nearly 30 years later the poolside bar is still serving great cocktails. Grab a Pina Colada and hang around for the ‘insider-only’ afterhours parties powered by top level DJs like Yousef, Idris Elba, Colin Peters, and sexy newcomer Ste V Something. 4. Bay Bar, S’Arenal Promenade, San Antonio San Antonio’s Bay Bar is a dream haven for cocktail aficionados. The cocktail menu is full of classic and original recipes, and the fruit is mouth wateringly fresh. If you fancy listening to chilled house music and intelligent tech tunes whilst sampling some of the best cocktails on the island, head down to Bay Bar on the edge of the Marina and order a Mango Mojito or a Pornstar Martini. 5. Es Vive, Figuretes A small, shoreline district situated in-between Playa d’en Bossa and Ibiza Town, Figuretes is home to the legendary, mint cool party fortress, Es Vive Hotel. Don’t be surprised if the outer door to the Hotel is locked when you arrive; simply push the intercom button and tell the friendly voice that you’d like to try one of their famous Espresso Martini’s. If that doesn’t work, offer up the code: Shipwrecked, and then lounge by the pool for hours. 6. Kanya, Upper Sunset Strip, San Antonio Once a dilapidated gazebo serving drinks to long-haired hippies on the beach, Kanya have upped their game in recent years and are now one of the best places to eat and drink in San An. Jump in the pool in the daytime, order a Strawberry Daiquiri or a Victorian Mojito in the evening, and listen to live jazz and folk music, as well as chilled electronic beats from Cream DJ Josh Demello. 7. The Rock Bar, Ibiza Town, Port Area A famous pre-party assembly point for clubbers on route to Pacha, The Rock Bar in Ibiza Town is also renowned for serving excellent cocktails to a discerning party crowd. With a smart, indoor barroom and a sprawling outdoor patio section which looks out toward the port, one of the first things you should do when you get to Ibiza is to soak up the evening atmosphere at The Rock Bar. 8. Boutique Hostal Salinas, Sant Jordi de Ses Salines Perched on the periphery of the Ses Salines nature reserve, the recently opened Boutique Hostal Salinas looks out onto the best beach on the island. If you fancy sipping cocktails amongst the dunes and salt plains, without having to remortgage your house, take a taxi to the southern tip of the island and escape the maddening crowds at Boutique Hostal Salinas. 9. Café del Mar, Sunset Strip, San Antonio There’s plenty of competition for business in the heart of San Antonio’s famous Sunset Strip, with a procession of bars and cafes vying for your cash. In truth, they all serve decent cocktails, but right now Café del Mar has the edge. Order a Classic Mojito, dance to Marco Carola, DJ Sneak and a host of other top DJs for free, and watch the sunset from the most famous twilight bar in the world. 10. Ibiza Rocks Diner, Playa d’en Bossa The latest addition to the Ibiza Rocks family is the Ibiza Rocks Diner in Playa d’en Bossa, which is ideally positioned within sight of both Space and Ushuaïa. The quality of the cocktail output here is consistent and the prices are reasonably pitched, which makes the Ibiza Rocks Diner the perfect place to order a Chocolate Orange Martini before heading across the road to checkout Richie Hawtin at Space.
The coolest and quirkiest bar in Ibiza’s bustling nightlife scene, Bar 1805 Ibiza is a French canteen in the kitsch gypsy back streets of Ibiza town offering the island’s most creative cocktails, food with a French flair and an authentic bohemian vibe.
Address Carrer Santa Llùcia, 7 Eivissa
The coolest and quirkiest bar to burst onto the Ibiza scene in the past couple of years is without a doubt Bar 1805 Ibiza; a French canteen in the grimy, gypsy back streets of Ibiza town offering the island’s most creative (and addictive) cocktails, food with a French flair and the most authentically bohemian atmosphere in Ibiza since the ‘60s. This unconventional little Ibiza watering hole is run by a dynamic duo of charismatic Parisians - long-term Ibiza character Martin Lavie and world-renowned mixologist Charles Vexenat - who bring more personality and OTT joie de vivre to the chalkboard tables out on the cobbled streets than you’d ever imagine at first glance. Oh, and Absinthe. Let’s not forget about the Absinthe. But more on that later. Take a seat on the spacious terrace – open for lunch and dinner for a mere 180.5 days a year – and let them entertain you. Peruse Ibiza’s most beautifully illustrated cocktail menus until you pick a poison – many of which are available by the glass or jug for four people. Give yourself an instant perk-up with the Diablo Fresca, an amazing concoction of tequila, lime, ginger and cassis or delicately sip a Gin-Basil Smash from a dainty teacup (the irony of which is not lost), or try the head-spinning Coca-Collins – gin-infused Mate de Coca with lemon and sugar. Of course there are classics – Pina Colada, Bloody Mary, Margarita, Mai Tai, Mojito, Espresso Martini – you name it, they’ll shake it and stir it. But what the real Bar 1805 aficionados know is that Absinthe is their middle name, and the signature Green Beast cocktail is an absolute must-try. There’s also a Grape Sour, the Absinthe Coffee Flip and the scary sounding yet delicious Absinthe Drip… madams et monsieurs, the green fairy is here to please! Serious drinking aside, the menu is small but complete. By day, snack on Croque Monsieur or Quiche Maison, salads, salmon tartine or the house specialty, Moules Frites in a choice of creamy coriander, mariniere or curry sauce. By night, just add an impressive 300g entrecote with Roquefort or pepper sauce, smoked salmon platters or the très délicieux Burger Foie Gras and there’s more than enough to satisfy, whether for a snack or a meal. Ad you gaze up to the walls of Dalt Vila, with the atmosphere (and company) getting more and more lively as the night gets later, it’s easy to see why lingering all night at Bar 1805 is addictive. A little bit avant-garde and a whole lotta Ibiza style, this is a place that’s already earning its stripes as a future classic.
Im Grunde trifft in der Bar 1805 auf Ibiza alles zusammen, was man sich – als Seafood-Liebhaber – nur wünschen kann. Frische Muscheln kiloweise, Fritten und zum Durstlöschen gibt es Cocktails. Hinzu kommt noch die Sonne der Balearen und der Gemütszustand erhellt sich. Doch leider ist nur wenig Paradiesisches von Dauer, so auch auf der Baleareninsel. Die Bar 1805, mit einer Feier am 18. Mai offiziell in Eivissa (Ibiza Stadt), unweit des Plaça del Parque eröffnet, wird nach 180,5 Tagen die Türen wieder schließen. Köpfe hinter dem Projekt sind Martin Lavie, seit mehr als zehn Jahren im Nightlife von Ibiza tätig, und Charles Vexenat, seines Zeichens langjähriger Bartender. Zusammen leiten sie nun die „französische Kantine, die den Absinth und, die von ihm inspirierten Künstler feiert“. Dabei versteht man sich jedoch nicht als reiner Künstlertreff. „Es ist ein Platz, an dem Künstler, Einheimische, Divas, Fashion Victims und Leute aus allen Schichten eine tolle Zeit zusammen haben können.“ Wer sich dennoch zum Werkeln berufen sieht und von der grünen Fee geküsst wurde, kann sich an weißen Wänden und Schiefertischen mit Kreide ausprobieren. Für das Design und die Umsetzung der, zum Teil extravaganten Ideen, lud man die Künstler Carole Marchand und Frederic Martres aus Dijon ein. So kann Mann sich beispielsweise in den Morgenstunden bei frischem Kaffee in der „Barber Corner“ rasieren lassen. Diejenigen, die der Drinks wegen kommen, finden eine große Auswahl an Absinth- und Tequila-Cocktails, die auf Wunsch auch literweise und als Take-away angeboten werden. Ein gefährliches Spiel unter spanischer Sonne. Aber dennoch eine sehr genießerfreundliche Idee, zumal die Preise für Speisen und Getränke, je nach Größe, zwischen 10 und 30 Euro liegen. Für diejenigen, die den Sommerurlaub schon verplant haben, bleibt zu hoffen, dass vielleicht auch umtriebige deutsche Bartender irgendwann auf die Idee kommen, eine Bar mit Barber Shop zu eröffnen. In diesem Sinne: guten Flug!