14 Nov Interview with Nico de Soto⎪Mace Bar, NYC
Well let me start by saying that my visit to Mace was really very lovely and sweet, much like the bar itself. The bar itself is deep in East Village, sometimes referred to as Alphabet City, only accessible if you’re willing to walk about ten mins from the subway, which once you’ve been here once, that walk seems very much like the right thing to do. With rows and rows of spices, brick walls, cozy seating, and huge windows that look out onto the street, Mace is the perfect spot for a cocktail with friends or someone you’d like to be more than friends with. The selection is wide, the prices totally fair (fair, geddit? Yes you get it), and the bar staff will make you feel very welcome. Mace is the brainchild of Nico de Soto, originally from France. Here we get to know Nico and Mace and why he chooses to work with FAIR.
How about we start by you telling me about the bar we’re in right now, how it came to be, and why, and how long it has been around for?
Alright, so this is Mace. We are in East Village, on East 9th and Avenue C, and we opened the bar about three years ago, three and a half years ago. How did it come about? I was in London and really wanted to come back to New York. Greg, who was my business partner, who is the owner of Cocktail Kingdom, he told me he had a space. I am really into flavor and infusions, so originally we wanted to do a bar with spices. The main theme of the bar is designed as a modern spice shop; as you can see there are spices everywhere. The spices are easy to understand for everyone, so even for people who might not be used to drinking cocktails, they won’t be as scared. It’s a good entry point for people. Even the menu is done in this way; the name of the drink is the name of the spice we use in it. The menu includes the type of glass we use and the flavor profile, so it’s very easy to understand for everyone.
That’s amazing, and such a great way to approach a cocktail menu. What about your own history, where did you start?
I was backpacking in Australia, and I’ve been all around, you know get the van, pack it up, go surfing. I was there and I needed a job and I thought, ‘why not bartending?’ you know, you drink, you party, you’re around people, it’s a fun job. So at first it was a job just to earn money, but over time I went deeper into it, I started reading, and I started working with infusions. I came back to France, and started working in a place, then a better place, then a better place, just moving up slowly. I moved to New York in 2010, and then I went back to London to finish with the Experimental Cocktail Club (ECC) and then came back here with them. And yeah that was it, I opened my own place here in 2014 and it’s just grown from there.
How did you start working with FAIR and how has it grown?
The first time I worked with FAIR was with the ECC who I mentioned before, in Paris in 2008. Here at Mace, we have used FAIR vodka in our hibiscus cocktail, that has a home made syrup and champagne too. For me, the price of the cocktail is very important. Quality is too, but I never let the price of my cocktails get too high. I do like to use French products because I know the quality is high and because it is because where my roots are.
You just touched on sustainability in terms of price points, but what about environmental sustainability, how is that important to you?
Of course it is very important, but as long as people are not just talking about it because it is the “trendy” thing and they are all talk and no action. We do as much as we can; we don’t have plastic straws any more and we try to waste as little as possible. We are responsible and think about it where we can. Even down to the fact that we try not to have too many citrus drinks because the waste from those drinks can be huge.
What about next steps for you, I know some things are secret right now, but what are you able to tell us?
I’ll be in Miami soon, and we have a new project opening here in February. We are also doing Miracle over the festive season. Miracle started as a pop up in 2014 when we couldn’t get construction finished in time at one location, and we just launched a pop up over the Christmas period. We thought it might be a little busy, but within one week people were lining up around the block. It was crazy! So then we thought, we have fun doing this, so why don’t we do it again the next year. We started doing it in other bars, and this year we are doing it in 95 locations!