Interview with Chef Eric Simpkins of Trois - Atlanta

October, 2007

Antoinette Bruno: What drew you to restaurants?
Eric Simpkins: It was a way to make money when I was 16! I started working around Atlanta – I’ve worked at The River Room, Fountain Head Lounge, Midcity Cuisine, Joel and Woodfire Grill.

AB: Were you trained in bartending or mixology?
ES: I learned everything on the job, and from people who write books on the subject. I graduated from the French Culinary Institute in New York, and immediately got into the cocktail scene.

AB: What are some current trends you’ve seen in the cocktail market?
ES: Bitters, particularly orange bitters, show up in a lot of cocktails right now. People are paying attention to small regional differences, like east coast versus west coast twists. And ice – lots of different kinds of ice. I want a cold draft machine – it makes large, solid, clear cubes that don’t dilute drinks as much. It circulates the water so there’s no air.

AB: What goes into creating a new cocktail? How long does it take to create a new cocktail?
ES: It takes anywhere from half an hour to one week. My current raspberry cocktail – with homemade jam and lavender-infused gin – took a week to get right. The Trois cocktail, with green tea, mint and egg white, took 20 minutes.

AB: What inspires you when creating a new drink?
ES: Seasonal changes, memorable food experiences, and dinner parties.

AB: What is your favorite cocktail to drink?
ES: An Old Fashioned whiskey cocktail – no fruit, no soda, and four dashes Angostura bitters, with lemon and lime zest.

AB: Favorite cocktail resource book?
ES: That would definitely have to be The Gentleman's Companion: Around The World With Jigger, Beaker, and Flask by Charles Baker.

AB: If you weren’t a mixologist, what would you be doing?
ES: Cooking.

AB: Which person would you most like to go out for drinks with?
ES: Tom Waits – we’d sit around and shoot the shit. This would have to be back when he was drinking, of course.

AB: What does success mean for you? What will it look like for you?
ES: I’d like to open my own bar – my dream bar would be the size of Milk & Honey in New York.