The Santé Story: We chat with Alex Percy & Loic Mouchelin after they took home the Regional Bar of the Year trophy at this year’s Bar Awards

Alex Percy & Loic Mouchelin

Santé Cocktail Bar
14 Duggan Street, Toowoomba

Tucked away in a small laneway in the centre of Toowoomba you will find Santé Cocktail Bar. Step into this hidden gem to find a warm welcome and a beautiful space designed to let you sit back, relax and feel right at home. This small and intimate space spills out into the atmospheric laneway lit by fairy lights, making it just the right size for a quick after-work cocktail or a night out. Small tables and a no-bookings policy are the way of keeping the ambience welcoming and intimate, and ensuring that everyone feels comfortable.

Here we chat to owners Alex Percy and Loic Mouchelin about how they ended up opening a cocktail bar in regional Queensland.

How did Sante, a cocktail bar in Toowoomba come to be?
Loic: We moved back from London in 2018 and the dream was a bar. We tossed up ideas of a wine bar, cocktails, a dive bar but when we found the space for Sante we knew it had to be cocktails!
Alex: Cocktails are our first love so it suited us perfectly.


How long have you been open?
Loic: We opened 5th December 2019 just before the world changed with Covid. The local community, our suppliers & our friends are the reason we survived and if we can survive that everything else seems possible!

What made you open a cocktail bar in regional Queensland?
Alex: When we moved back from London we planned to live at the beach. Toowoomba was a stopgap to spend time with family and find our feet. We didn’t really know Toowoomba but when we looked around it seemed to be a growing place. We realised we could open a bar with just our savings and build something within a community that was already growing and looking for new places to go out and new experiences.

“The highlights are little things in every shift! Meeting new people, hearing stories, a few proposals, (some breakups). I think hearing how much our little space means to people is always warming!”

What do you love about Toowoomba/ why should people visit?
Loic: It’s a growing and evolving city! There are new bars, restaurants, cafes, and shops opening all the time. It’s a melting pot of people moving from out west to a city and people moving from bigger cities to a smaller, more community-driven lifestyle. It’s also a beautiful city with lots of parks & gardens to explore!
Alex: We are both from small towns so even though neither of us had lived here before it felt familiar.

What is your hospitality background?
Loic: I started in hospitality in France at 14 studying in a hospitality school with the goal of being a chef. I’ve covered most aspects of hospo; chef, bartending, front of house, housekeeping, accounting, event management. I worked in fine dining restaurants as a chef & bars in France, Germany, America then decided to move to London where I dedicated myself to learning more about bartending than cheffing. I worked in Be at One where Alex & I met and then The Roadhouse in Covent Garden before moving to Australia.
Alex: I have always been in & out of hospo. I studied Hospitality Management in Sydney at ICMS, ran a coffee boat, worked in kitchens, bartended & waited tables. I moved to London for the adventure & found a job in the bar I loved drinking in. I dedicated myself to learning cocktails & that’s been the future for me since.

Mentors or people that you admire?
Loic: That’s a hard one. There are too many people to name, everyone I have worked with or for have taught me something (good or bad) but I will definitely mention the first person that gave me a chance & taught me everything they knew spending hours after shift talking & training me in the basics of everything hospo and that’s Ricky. His real name is Mathieu, I don’t know why he’s called Ricky! We worked together in north of France & now he runs his own bar in France. He’s the one that encouraged me to go & explore the world.
Alex: A special mention to our Dads & Loic’s mum for being a constant support to us! We couldn’t have achieved any of this without them!

Any highlights since opening your bar?
Both: The highlights are little things in every shift! Meeting new people, hearing stories, a few proposals, (some breakups). I think hearing how much our little space means to people is always warming! People that come to us for birthdays & anniversaries, to celebrate or to cheer themselves up, People feel at home in our little world & make us feel a part of theirs which is pretty special.

What have been some of the challenges?
Alex: Covid is obviously the biggest challenge we faced. Being only 8 capacity when we first opened & navigating all the rules & changes. Beyond that I would say every challenge has presented itself to also be an opportunity & a chance to grow & learn!
Loic: the biggest challenge I have realised is my total inability as a handyman. I still can’t put a shelf up or fix anything & I’m finally starting to come to terms with that!

Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?
Alex: We just signed another 3 years lease so here for the best part of it. The next dream is a bar that’s big enough for the 2 of us so I can get back behind the bar!
Loic: A long bar with bar stools only & a little kitchen to prep & offer some bites.

What do you love to drink?
Alex: Everything! Wine, beer, cocktails (although we rarely drink them after shift because everything is already washed up!). We also have Moscato in the back fridge for Bella who works with us although she is developing a taste for an Old Fashioned so, like me, she drinks everything.
Loic: Depends on my mood. My go-to is a beer, shot of Chartreuse or a daiquiri but I’m pretty much open to drink anything. I also always need a wine with dinner (& lunch)!

Favourite bars?
Alex: So many!!! In Brisbane our go to is The Gresham, Bar Brutus, Alba & we always end up at King Lear’s Throne! In Toowoomba we love everyone & try to visit all the hospo family as much as we can. In Sydney for bar week, we visited so many amazing places, most of which we remember!
Loic: Worldwide I would have to say Swift in London which changed my ideas of what a bar can be. It always had amazing drinks & service but never took itself too seriously which is how we try to be!

Ginache Martinez
A simple drink, a twist on a classic, 
that didn’t require any special preparation
30ml Never Never Ginache
30ml Autonomy Davo Plum aperitivo
10ml Maraschino Liqueur (we used Massenez Marasqual)
2 Dash Fee Bros Plum bitters
2 Dash Angostura Orange
Stir Down
Serve in a Martini Glass
Garnish with orange zest and maraschino cherry