While I can hang at any old dive bar for a beer and a shot, I do have a penchant for upscale hotel bars. By this, I mean that the bar sparkles and the bartender is attentive (yet unobtrusive), well-groomed, and refills my water glass all night. The lady next to me might be wearing pearls and a fur coat hangs behind her – I am in Holden Caufield's New York, or at Harry Craddock's bar at the Savoy Hotel. Some of my favorite bars are in hotels – The Lobby Bar in The Palace New York or San Francisco, or the Park Hyatt in Tokyo – I always go to one when I am in a new city. Claremont Hotel in Berkeley is great at sunset for the view!
CDP (short for Chef de Partie) is exactly the kind of bar that I have wanted to open in the Bay Area. It reminds me of a hotel bar in the most complimentary ways – where I can go to meet up with an old friend for a posh night of gabbing, or go alone to unwind and feel extra special. Most importantly, the drinks are excellent at CDP – which is not always the case at a hotel bar, let's be honest.
An extension to the fine dining restaurant Commis, the bar is on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland – although it feels like a bar that could be in a big cosmopolitan town like Tokyo, London, or Manhattan. CDP has a classic, old world aesthetic, with a spark of invigorating modernity. The bar and cocktail menu, with its brandy focus, is stocked with select spirits and excellent Japanese whisky and sake too!
Aside from the impressive drinks list, the dishes at CDP are outstanding. I love the oysters with yuzu ice!
Before CDP opened, Commis owner James Syhabout came into Umami Mart to look for new glassware for the bar. We have partnered with James before on his other restaurants and we were thrilled to work with him on his newest project. After some searching, he decided on the Hard Strong Hotel Bar Martini Glasses.
CDP has been open for nearly six months now and we were so excited to see the glassware, as well as many of our 24K-plated gold barware, on the bar top. We met up with CDP's bar manager Mark Guillaudeu who made us a few drinks served in the Martini glasses.
Since Mark has taken the helm at CDP since its opening, he has created a cocktail list using advanced cooking techniques, much like in the kitchen at Commis next door. We asked Mark a few questions to get to know him better, namely his favorites and go-tos!
How did you get into bartending?
I came into it sideways through my sommelier training. I already had a good theoretical background at one of my first gigs as a manager, so they put me in charge of the bar – a big rooftop bar with a mid-sized dining room attached. Needless to say I figured out what worked and what didn't.
Where do you go to unwind and get a drink?
What are your favorite drinks?
My tastes out are honestly a little boring – I'll always try the two most interesting-sounding signature cocktails and then move to Fitzgeralds for the rest of the night. I've been known to crush a Bamboo or a Corpse Reviver #2 in my day, though.
What is your favorite glass?
Both to drink out of and to serve into I think little beats a classic Antoinette-style coupe. They're the most versatile and provide the widest opportunity for more creative garnishes.
What drink pairs best with a CDP dish?
The menu at CDP has some richer dishes (beef tartare with beef fat lavash, hen liver mousseline, poached egg yolk with alliums and malt), so we put an emphasis in our cocktail program on having a complement of more savory, entrée-style cocktails like the Daffy (duck fat-washed Armagnac with Sauternes and Lillet) and the Tyrolean Negroni with prosciutto-infused gin. On the lighter side the Pearadox (bourbon, pear brandy, honey, Poiré, and lemon) or the Blood Orange Sidecar are both great ways to stimulate the palate at the start of the night.
What is your inspiration and vision for the CDP bar?
I want the bar and the kitchen to be in step - both menus of understated elegance and surprising combinations. I think one of the most important parts of dining (and drinking) out is delight; the barmen I'm most inspired by – Alex Riddle, Dave Arnold (Liquid Intelligence), and Tony Conigliaro (The Cocktail Lab) – have a command of technique that enables them to render concepts, feelings, and memories into liquid art.
I've had cocktails that tasted like a vacation poker game in Juarez, the first blast of salt air you get coming over the dunes to the beach, and the feeling you get sitting on the front porch sipping iced tea in Virginia in summer; drinks not only delicious, but that take you to a place and state that inspire in you the good feelings from whence the drinks came. It is our privilege to make people happy every day – my hope is they carry some of the beauty we put in their glass with them when they leave our doors.
Mark was kind enough to show us two recipes from the CDP repertoire – one shaken and the other stirred.
Blood Orange Sidecar
1.5 oz Camus VS Cognac
0.75 oz Acidified Blood Orange Juice
0.75 oz Blood Orange Curaçao
How to make Acidified Blood Orange Juice
Add citric acid to blood orange juice in the ratio of 30g/L, or using a pH meter until the pH reaches 2.0
How to make Blood Orange Curacao
Zest of 6 blood oranges
8oz overproof vodka (at least 100 proof, but 151 if possible)
Infuse vodka with orange zest for 3 days (we use a slightly different prep at Commis for efficiency)
Strain vodka from orange zest, pressing the zest to extract as much liquid as possible
Dilute vodka with 8 oz distilled water
Add 454 grams of sugar to water/vodka mixture and stir until dissolved.
Combine all ingredients into a Boston Shaker. Hard shake for 15 seconds – Mark's rule is to shake long enough that a thin coating of frost forms on the outside of the shaker (about 24˚-26˚F). Double strain into a Martini glass.
1 oz Suntory Toki
1oz Carpano Antica
Combine all in a mixing glass, stir over ice 30 seconds, strain into the glass.
Thank you Mark and James for your exquisite hospitality!
3861 Piedmont Ave
Oakland, CA 94611