His good looks may lead to good conversation, but that’s where his resemblance with most other mixologists ends. More easygoing than flamboyant, he could almost be mistaken for a young entrepreneur in full expansion. Which may not be too far off, given that Jonathan Thériault has spent the last decade working his way up at 425 °F in Sainte-Thérèse, where he has been General Manager for over a year now.

Although he has created a variety of cocktails for this new restaurant, his contribution to its success is not limited to just his delicious drinks. He is the man behind one of the most popular destinations in town. Like an entrepreneur, Jonathan Thériault ensures the restaurant’s longevity and helps make sure it runs smoothly. He also understands the importance of teamwork in a demanding field. “I’m surrounded by a great group of people, and I have a great working relationship with the chef, Frédéric Dufort. We make a good team,” he explains with what is no doubt his usual modesty.

So how did this former architecture student, who was predestined to a career in urban development, end up in the restaurant and service industry? What was once just a means to paying for his education eventually became more of a passion for him than architecture. And he largely credits the owners of Chez Lionel restaurant for this, having worked there during most of his studies. In fact, when he speaks of them, it’s obvious he thinks of them as family. Although this term is often overused in a work context, there is such sincerity in his voice, which is very telling of his affection for his first mentors. “Their passion rubbed off on me. I already had several years of experience in the restaurant industry before joining their team, but this is where I started wanting to make it a career,” he says. “I got to explore various facets of the job.”

He has successively worked as a waiter, bartender, and maître D. Then, the owners allowed him to design his own cocktail menu, an experience to be repeated at 425 °F. His creative side, along with his personal knowledge of the clientele, gives him a surprising upper-hand when creating his cocktails, which he concocts with his kitchen companion Frédéric Dufort. “Our menus are creative, but we always keep what people like and want in mind. This sometimes means reinventing classics, making them our own.”

In his opinion, a sought-after cocktail list, combined with a refined cuisine, put his establishment on the map. “There are so many good restaurants in Quebec, it’s important to stand out. Having a great cocktail list is one way to get there.”

Jonathan Thériault’s tips

What’s the best summer drink?
I like bold, refreshing cocktails, especially gin cocktails, like a Negroni.

What products do you like to work with?
Herb liqueur, such as Chartreuse, and bitter liqueur, such as Fernet-Branca. They give cocktails an interesting complexity.

A disappearing trend:
Straws. There are so many different versions out there now to replace plastic: bamboo, stainless steel, paper… Personally, I prefer sipping cocktails without a straw. It’s even better for the environment that way!

Your advice for young mixologists:
You need to build your own empire and try a variety of cocktails in order to be able to advise your clientele.

Photos: Julien Faugère