Charlotte Belvisotti was born into hospitality. Her father was the chef and owner of a restaurant in Bordeaux, La Villa Carnot. Belvisotti started her hospo career in Europe at 15, and moved to Australia in 2016 where she worked as a bar manager at Fremantle’s Bathers Beach House. Bartending stints at Eureka 89 and Rice Queen in Melbourne were followed by a move to Sydney, where she’s worked at 12 Micron, Palmer & Co, Eau De Vie, Restaurant Leo, Alberto’s Lounge and Door Knock.
Now the French-born chef and bartender is presiding over a 15-page drinks menu at new French brasserie Armorica.
Belvisotti talks to Broadsheet about how she became a bartender, the differences between European and Australian drinking culture, her favourite cocktails and which dishes on the Armorica menu remind her of home.
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You grew up in Bordeaux, a city famous for its wine culture. How do you think Sydney’s nightlife scene compares?
Compared to Bordeaux, Sydney’s nightlife is almost non-existent. There’s a lot of potential in Sydney, with amazing cocktail bars and restaurants, but Europe has 24/7 nightlife, you can go to have meal at 6am or party for 72 hours in the same club. It’s vast and diverse.
I think what restricts Australia in general is the [now rescinded] lockout laws and the very tight rules around alcohol. Australia is amazing in so many ways, the only thing that we’re missing is the nightlife and I think that is going to take time to build up.
You’ve described your father as a mentor. How has he influenced your hospitality career?
He was definitely a big figure in the hospitality industry in Bordeaux. My dad has always taught me that you can do anything you want in life, but you have to do it well. I started working in the kitchen with him as a kitchenhand during my school holidays when I was 15 years old. When I was little, my dad would sit me on the pass in La Villa Carnot (his restaurant) and give me a punnet of raspberries. My parents had an apartment above the restaurant, so I was definitely born and raised very much in the hospitality industry.
What’s a cocktail you’ve been blown away by?
Last November I went to Le Cheval Blanc in Paris. I’m a big fan of Florian Thireau, who wrote The Cocktail Book Le Nouveau Classique du Bar. He opened the bar Le Tout-Paris on the rooftop of the Cheval Blanc [hotel] with one of my best friends Nicolas Dommage (who I used to work with at Palmer & Co). It’s a stunning venue [with] one of the most memorable cocktails I’ve ever had. The precision, the thought, care and attention to details was incredible. It was the best Sidecar I ever had. (Sidecars are my favourite drink so there was some steep competition.)
Tell us about a dish on Armorica’s menu that reminds you of home.
Armorica’s creamed spinach. It’s a simple dish, but it always reminds me of my grandma. She would cook it for me all the time for me when I was little, and it was my favourite thing ever.
Which cocktail on the Armorica menu are you most proud of?
The Bees in the Lounge. It is a milk punch with saffron gin, apricot, local honey and lemon served on the rocks with honeycomb. It’s equally delicate and refreshing.
Other than Armorica, where’s your favourite place to grab a drink in Sydney?
I would say Old Mate’s Place in the city.
What do you drink when you’re at home?
I am not a big drinker to be honest, but when I have a drink at home, I keep it simple. I love drinking vermouth (either on the rocks or with tonic) or a nice glass of red.