Few, if any, spirits importers are more concerned with the little guy than Nicolas Palazzi, the owner of Paul-Marie Spirits (PM Spirits). He’s built his business on trying to expose the market to true cognac, a category that has long been captive to luxury brands and cynical production practices. His business eventually expanded beyond cognac to include other under appreciated categories like Pineau des Charentes and mezcal and he recently teamed up with boutique sherry bottler Equipo Navazos to put out a line of rare spirits under the Navazos-Palazzi label, including a selection of exceptional casks of Spanish brandy. His efforts have helped buyers and consumers understand what the words “artisan” and “terroir” truly mean when applied to spirits.
As for Palazzi’s hobbies outside of his business, there are plenty. Here, he tackles our Lookbook Questionnaire to reveal his favorite bar, the best and worst things he’s even drank and his preferred hangover recovery regime.
What do want to be when you grow up?
Best thing you ever drank:
1998 Henri Bonneau Châteauneuf-du-Pape ‘Cuvée des Célestins.’ Smelled like garrigue, tasted like tapenade, super unctuous on the palate.
Worst thing you ever drank:
Take sub-par sweet moscato. Add shitty vodka. Makes it shimmer.
First time you ever got drunk:
My grandparents were making wine in Bordeaux (Côtes de Bourg). As such, we ended up having a few “vendor” passes for Vinexpo in 1991. (Note that I was born in ’79.) It was agreed I would just walk around and not take part in any of it.
I tasted everything that was made available to me. It was my first-ever trade tasting and spitting did not occur to me. I puked at the back of my mum’s Peugeot and passed out.
If you had to listen to one album on loop, for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Silence sounds like a better option.
What’s the weirdest hobby you currently have or have had?
I collect pictures of you. I keep them in a dedicated room in my apartment, with candles and cut-outs of newspaper. Nothing weird.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?
Shit tends to take care of itself.
Weirdest cocktail experiment you’ve ever attempted:
I suck at making drinks. Each time I try, I fail and something simple becomes nasty. See, I had never thought about the fact egg whites and lemon juice don’t like each other too much. Add to it the fact that I used to stir everything as I did not own any bar equipment other than a large Ikea glass and a fork. I have made countless shitty drinks with that technique.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not eating, drinking or drink-making?
I am a semi-pro at napping.
Your favorite bar, and why:
I’d say it is more about who is making the drinks than where they are being made. But when a real pro-bartender stays at a spot long enough, he or she gets associated with the venue, and then it all comes together.
So there is this one guy—you’ve probably never heard of him—Leo Robitscheck, young kid, full of potential, who introduced me to what truly outstanding cocktails can be about six years ago, when he was behind the stick at EMP (Siegert Sour anyone?). Been blown away every single time I’ve sat at that bar. I have an emotional relationship with that place and Leo’s drinks.
Best meal you’ve ever had:
Two years ago, my in-laws had been given a big-ass black truffle. I then discovered that the “thinly shaving the truffle” thing is bullshit—looks luxurious, tastes like nothing. Thick slices of the (free) thing with boiled potatoes, salted butter and fleur de sel is where it’s at.
What’s your go-to drink in a cocktail bar?
In a dive bar?
Shots: Irish whiskey, if available. Bourbon otherwise.
Your preferred hangover recovery regime:
Water, fresh grapefruit juice, buttery pastries, coffee, more water, a nap.
The one thing you wish would disappear from drink lists forever:
Mass-produced, ubiquitous, shitty base spirits.
The last text message you sent: