It was a rocky start to his first white island experience for Experimental Beach Ibiza head bartender Inko Garat, who left Paris to work on developing the new cocktail menu and recruiting the team before the launch in 2013. But before the restaurant officially opened, an unfortunate scooter accident meant he couldn’t return to the venue for its debut season, having sustained serious injuries, including broken bones in his neck. “I am one of the luckiest guys in the world,” says Inko of his speedy recovery process. “They thought I may never even walk again, but I knew I would. I had to get back and start what I hadn’t finished.”
Fast-forward to the 2014 season, and a triumphant Inko has returned to the Experimental Beach Ibiza bar (or boat, as the case may be) with flair. “I came back to Ibiza for myself, and also to show everyone around me, that I can still do everything I did before the accident… and I can do it better!” And do it well he does, from concocting delicious drinks, crafted in quirky containers and delivering them with boyish charm (in multiple languages) to enjoying every element the island of Ibiza has to offer.
“What I love about Ibiza,” he muses. “Is that everybody can find their happiness here. There are extremes – from bottles of champagne beings sprayed about in bling beach clubs to the little hippie guy living in a cave and selling the things he makes to get by – but there’s a place for everyone, and everyone can find ‘their people’ and their places somewhere in Ibiza. You can never get bored here.” His own place, of course, is on the shores of Cap d’es Falco by day, and on his days off he frequents the famous old town (“My father is a history teacher, so I love old cities like Dalt Vila.”) and the north of the island (“The best place to go to find peace”).
In his ‘office’, Inko – who previously worked in Experimental Cocktail Club in Paris and London and loves the family-like atmosphere created by owners Romée de Goriainoff, Pierre-Charles Cros and Olivier Bon, affectionately referred to as ‘the boys’ – is renowned for creating bespoke twists on beach club classic cocktails. “People come to Ibiza on holiday, they come to Experimental Beach for the sunset, they think about drinks like Piña Coladas, Caipirinhas and Mojitos,” he says. “And of course, we can give them that… but we like to give it our own twist. I always say you’re free to try it… and if you don’t like it, we’ll make you the original. But no one ever comes back and asks for that!”
“It’s good to open your mind and try something new,” he continues, with his philosophy behind the Experimental Beach Ibiza menu. “This island is all about creating special memories, in special places, with special people… if you have the same drink you have at home, you’re not going to remember that. We want to be part of making your holiday memories special.”
His own signature drink is ‘The Enigma’, which as the name suggests, can’t be given away here – it’s all about the element of mystery and surprise. Served in a pharmaceutical style bottle, with no clue as to the ingredients inside, the drink is like a ‘blind’ cocktail… and encourages interaction between the bartender, the waiter and the customers as they keep guessing (we’ve tried it – all we can say is YUM). “Professionally, it’s also an interesting cocktail for the barman,” says Inko. “We use a lot of cool techniques like infusions and clarification processes – we basically use a chemistry set to create it.”
With much respect to his profession’s history (“We know we didn’t invent cocktails – classic drinks like the Old Fashioned were created 100 years ago – we’re re-inventing vintage drinks and sharing that old knowledge, with a modern twist.”), Inko hopes to travel the world in the future looking for new and old techniques and ingredients to continue to experiment with his craft. But for now, he’s happy right here in Ibiza. “In this industry, you don’t need to travel so much,” he says. “The world comes to you – I’ve worked with the best international bartenders, from Sweden, England, America, Germany, Denmark, Australia and more… and we have so many international customers too.”
As for his own tipple of choice, Inko’s tastes are more simplistic on a day off, opting for good wine with a meal, and beers with his mates. Nothing out of a pineapple then? “Sometimes… I drink EVERYTHING!” he laughs.