Having graduated with a Masters’ Degree in the Business of Wines and Spirits from the Dijon Business School in Burgundy, France, Flavien Desoblin is truly a spirits expert. In 2000, Desoblin moved to New York City to work for an importer and distributor of wines and spirits. At the same time, he was working a full-time job at a restaurant. He quickly saw the opportunity and need for an “upscale bar dedicated to spirits” and “realized that the NY palate had something for strong spirits.”
Desoblin noticed that although there were so many wine bars in the city, there wasn’t a dedicated place to spirits with a fine service. He opened his first bar in 2005 in Tribeca and named it Brandy Library, an umbrella term that “he was hoping would grab everybody’s attention” since back then people didn’t know much at all about brandy. He prides himself on having a very knowledgeable staff, or “spirit sommeliers” – a term that he coined to describe the savviness of his bartenders on everything from cognac to mezcal.
Desoblin is excited about how the cocktail trend has “brought forward a lot of knowledge and curiosity from drinkers.” He sees a new trend of a generally more curious and savvier young crowd, with people caring a lot more about what they consume, where it comes from, and how it’s made. He cherishes this trend because for him, “dealing with open minded people is a lot better” and it’s a lot more fun to pour a glass of Calvados to someone who actually appreciates it. And where before his customers didn’t know the difference between scotch and whiskey, they now go to his bar and realize that his staff of spirit sommeliers “knows a lot more than anybody else in NYC.”
Desoblin opened a more “millennial-driven place” in the summer of 2014 in the Lower East Side. Copper and Oak is the “casual and tiny version of Brandy Library,” that plays 80s music instead of jazz and doesn’t have Brandy Library’s strict 25+ policy. He also owns a casual Italian eatery called Da Marcella, which serves $12 pastas – truly a steal in New York.
Although Desoblin mainly cooks at home, he still enjoys going out for drinks. His favorites are B Flat in Tribeca and Angel’s Share, which he believes “started them all.” He loves Daniel Boulud’s DBGB Kitchen and Bar and Bar Boulud for classic French cuisine and the best pâtés. For traditional sushi, he recommends Sushi Azabu or Kyo Ya and he loves Sakamai for modern Japanese. He indulges in pizza at La Pizza Fresca and is happy that one of his favorite restaurants from Paris is now in New York – Le Coq Rico.