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Meet Dean Shury Meet Dean Shury

Meet Dean Shury

In life as in mixology, the classics never seem to go out of style. Margarita, Cosmopolitan, Maï Taï, Daiquiri… Bartenders around the world continue to hone their skills and flex their creativity on staple cocktails like these. Whether they choose to stay true to the originals or decide to put their own creative spin on things, odds are they’ll need to reach for a bottle of Cointreau at some point. Speaking of classic drinks, have you heard of Dean Shury?

170 years of great mixology classics

Dean Shurry shaking a cocktail

170 years of great mixology classics

Dean Shury is something of a mixology genius. After years manning the bar at London’s swanky Chiltern Firehouse, he took his cocktail know-how across the Channel to Paris, landing at Le Pigalle hotel. His menu is a 21st-century tribute to the classics, boasting sublime reinterpretations that honor the originals, yet include a little something extra to please modern palates. With a crooner’s gaze and military precision, he creates cocktails as clever as they are timeless in one of Paris’s jazziest drinking joints.

Naturally, we had to meet him. So we headed up to Pigalle, Paris’s former red-light district and current cocktail hub. The eponymous hotel on Rue Frochot is an ode to the quartier, both its sexy past and hip present. Across the eclectic-chic lobby stood Dean, dapper as ever and ready to share his secrets for shaking up a perfect Cosmopolitan (and show us his own soon-to-be-classic riff on it).

Dean shurry for the love of classic cocktails

cosmopolitan cocktail by Dean Shurry

Dean shurry for the love of classic cocktails

Behind the white marble bartop of Paris’s Le Pigalle, Dean Shury is focused. Slightly reserved, highly precise, and equal parts handsome and brooding, Shury brings to his work just what you’d hope an Englishman would: a measure of tradition, a dash of humility, the tiniest grain of madness, and some rather intriguing forearm tattoos.

With a few decisive shakes, he mixes up a Margarita of the highest order. Perhaps it’s for the bohemian, painterly type seated on the terrace. Or for the young startupper on the velvet sofa, busy firing off emails on her laptop. Or maybe that out-of-town couple canoodling in the corner. No matter the drinker, one thing is certain: Shury has made this Margarita with both creativity and respect for the original.

 

Dean's Squeeze Quiz

A Tale of Two Cities

Dean shurry mixing cocktails
“The choice of alcohol and fruits are the key to a great cocktail,” he says. “You want fresh, seasonal fruits and herbs, flavorful bitters, high-quality floral waters… A good cocktail ultimately depends on good ingredients.”

A Tale of Two Cities

Before bringing his creativity across the Channel, this thirty-something bartender honed his skills at some of the most renowned bars in Great Britain, where technique is mastered down to the millimeter. During his stint at London’s swanky Chiltern Firehouse, Shury’s drinks menu paid homage to classics, but always with a twist (think a tiki-inspired take on the daiquiri).

In 2017, Shury made his way to Paris, where he found the perfect place to flex his mixology skills: Le Pigalle hotel. We met him there, amid its backdrop of hip vintage decor, to chat about the cocktail menu he’s created, which somehow manages to be witty and polished all at once.

Take his rebooted Cosmopolitan, for example. It’s decidedly not something out of Sex and the City, but rather a more subtle, blush-colored iteration of the classic, jazzed up with rosewater and pickled cherry juice. For garnish, he simply flames an orange peel over the top, sprinkling the drink with a hint of citrus oil that recalls the original’s indispensable shot of Cointreau. Et voilà. This Cosmopolitan goes by the name of Le Cosmic, and it earned its place on Le Pigalle’s cocktail menu this fall. Shury’s secret? Go fresh.
 

Every bartender has a bottle of Cointreau behind the bar.
Dean Shurry

Remixing a Classic

Cosmopolitan cocktail revisited

Remixing a Classic

When it comes to the inspiration behind his concoctions, it’s safe to say weaving staple elements from classic cocktails (Cosmopolitan, Margarita, Sidecar, White Lady) into more original creations is kind of Shury’s thing. Unsurprisingly, he often uses Cointreau. “Every bartender has a bottle of Cointreau behind the bar,” he says. “It’s a classic and an essential. The challenge is understanding how to use traditional ingredients like this to bring out the best in a recipe.”

Successfully reworking a classic drink is also a matter of extensive time and testing. After all, you’re essentially improving a drink that has already, for all intents and purposes, been perfected. “You can ask my friends—I have definitely made some pretty failed drinks. When I start to get lost in too many flavors, I return to the classic recipe for inspiration. For my Cosmic for example, I built the more novel fruit and floral flavors around the citrus and bitters of Cointreau.”

To watch Shury work, juggling shakers and strainers and tumblers with grace, is to understand what mixology is all about: mastery of the fundamentals mixed with a chef’s instinct for balancing flavors. As evening fell in Paris, and the Place Pigalle’s lampposts lit up one by one, Shury grabbed his suitcase. Time to catch his flight back to Barcelona, where he now lives. He recently opened his own cocktail bar there—a mix of Spanish spirit, Parisian cool, and that signature Brit precision. And we’d bet the menu there displays a similar reverence for mixology’s grand classics—along with Shury’s contemporary versions of them, brilliantly reimagined.

 

Cocktail Talks Podcast with Dean