As an up and coming tourist hot zone, Annecy in the glorious French Alps is in no shortage of exquisite watering holes to quench the thirst of its culturally curious clientele. 2018 cocktail champion Ninon Fauvarque was born and raised in this jewel of the Haute-Savoie and is one of three staff at La Queue du Coq, a now world-renowned boutique bar tucked away in the alleys.
At just 23 years old, Fauvarque is already at the top of her game, beating off stiff competition at the world’s longest running international cocktail contest, the Havana Club Cocktail Grand Prix. It was her very first competitive entry, which came a mere 14 months into her bartending career. “The contest was the first time I created my own cocktails, and I couldn’t believe the response let alone the outcome,” she tells us ecstatically, “Winning was one of the most magical moments of my life.” Indeed it has been, both for her and the bar which has become somewhat of a tourist attraction. We stumbled upon a solo travelling Californian who admitted she had come just to sample anything that was shaken up by the cocktail superstar of the year. “People have started to recognise me in the street and we’ve had people travel from all over to visit the bar since the competition”, admits Fauvarque.
The prize creation was the Curvas, comprising of seven-year-old Havana Club, Horchata, orange and lime reduction, spice-infused honey syrup and red bean aquafaba, prepared and mixed to perfection. Fauvarque and the team are however yet to offer the first prize drink to customers at La Queue du Coq, despite huge public demand, “We’re offering the semi-final cocktail right now, and will launch the winning cocktail shortly – something for people to return for.” She hints.
Meanwhile, the triple mixologists continue to work side by side to carefully craft cocktails in the purist tradition and modernising it with original flavours. “We all make drinks, we all serve, we all come up with the menu. It’s very much a group effort here. That’s what I love about La Queue du Coq”. With that, we ‘Santé’ (‘Cheers’) to Fauvarque’s glowing future over a refreshing Martini Verde (dry vermouth, celery juice, elderflower liquor and lemon) and quiz her on the five best bars of her beautiful city.
“A fellow cocktail bar, Ti Liki Pi has a really nice and cosy atmosphere. It's a "tiki-style" place, serving amazing cocktails created by the talented owner. I love that it evokes the exotic feel of tropical islands whilst being in the heart of Haute-Savoie's mountains.”
“This brewery creates its own beer on site. The owners are a nice couple that are very inspiring in the creation of new beers and flavour combinations.”
“This is a classy wine bar, where you can find several hundred different wines and it has an amazing open kitchen which serves beautiful sharing dishes including Escargots and a variety of French cheese. It’s really lovely and everyone I introduce to it falls in love with the place.”
“This is actually a hostel with a large outside terrace bar. They serve beers, cocktails and delicious homemade vegetarian food. It’s one of the friendliest places around and I love going there for a drink in the summer.”
“Of course, I have to recommend La Queue du Coq. It is an intentionally unassuming bar emulating the prohibition spirit with its discrete storefront. Décor is a mix of recycled and up-cycled interiors. Girard’s inspiration comes from a mix of things that have touched him through ten years of experience in the bar industry spanning France, England and Australia.”
Ninon Fauvarque is the 12th Havana Club Cocktail Grand Prix Winner and La Queue du Coq can be found at 10 rue Vaugelas, 74000 Annecy, France.