Justin Marmot & Louka Marmot: The couple behind Dean’s Lounge in Kellett Street, Potts Point talk time-consuming cocktails and the future of Dean’s

Interview by Elijah Attard. Chef and host of the Roots Hospitality podcast. @roots_hospitality

Dean’s Lounge – 7 Kellett Street, Potts Point

Dean’s Lounge is a very special place to me. When I’d finish service in the kitchen at Yellow restaurant in Potts Point, a few of the chefs and I would head to Dean’s for a cheeky cocktail and it was always good to see the faces of Justin and Louka Marmot (who co-own the bar together) along with the rest of the crew. One of the few bars on a Friday and Saturday to close at 3am, making it accessible for chefs. So it’s a pleasure to sit down and catch up with them again (and their bar manager, Jaxon too!).

Not only did you meet during Mardi Gras but you both met here at Dean’s Lounge back when it was a cafe in 2002 and Justin was a food runner. Are you having the ultimate love party? Was Mardi Gras and World Pride a big celebration this year?
Justin: It was huge! Everyone was celebrating! Should we tell the story of how we met? Or is it too embarrassing?
Louka: That was a wild night when we met too. Let’s keep it for another time!

You have a new cocktail menu for happy hour coming up. I’m curious, do you start with a theme then base your cocktails around that? Or vice versa?
Louka: The team will work together and have some creative fun. Making sure the four drinks for happy hour also complement the classics. But we need to give credit to our bar manager Jaxon, who guides the team, even getting the cooks to come up with cocktail ideas. This would be a great question for him.
Jaxon: The seasons are most important. I wouldn’t want to drink an Old Fashioned on a hot day, I’d rather have a light and cold Margarita. Using that idea, I take a solid cocktail and then rebuild it using the ingredients in season, changing it throughout the year. On the creative side, I thought it’d be fun to imagine walking through any city like New York or Havana and recreate what they might serve. It keeps things fun.


What city around the world should we tell people to skip buying tickets for and catch a cab to Dean’s Lounge instead?
Justin: San Francisco baby!

“We love nothing more than partnering with cool people for cool projects. More live acts with a recording-type session going or even pop-ups with chefs.” – Justin Marmot

Interesting! What cocktails can we expect from the new menu?
Jaxon: Coming into colder months, we want fruit and a little spice. With that, we’re doing an Americano as if it was in?uenced from Mexico instead of Italy. So Tequila, Blanc Vermouth, Suze Aperitif and pineapple syrup. It’s something fun from America, but a tropical twist to reference that west coast vibe.
Justin: It helps that we are a bar with a fully functioning kitchen. It gives us the freedom of using the cooktop, oven and so forth. Honestly, the hardest part of the cocktail is giving it a name.

I understand! I have a range of drinks collaborated with Par in Melbourne, for my intimate dinners and I forgot I had to name them. I was coming up with things like ‘Southside… of Wollongong.”
Louka: That’s also what we’ve been aiming to stay away from. There can be some delicious drinks like a Splice cocktail we had, but if they’re service-consuming, which this one was, then unfortunately they’ve got to go.
Justin: That ?oating coconut ice cream though? Was such a good garnish.
Jaxon: Unfortunately it only ?oated 60% of the time. Yet we still get people asking for it.

I liked where this conversation was heading and can foresee the trauma incoming. But I’ve got to ask anyway. What’s been the most labour-intensive cocktail that has put you in the shit during service before?
Justin: We did a cocktail called the Garibaldi Sunset (an ode to the classic), where we’d squeeze oranges and whip them fresh for every single drink. The drink was amazing don’t get me wrong, but boy did it give us a run for its money.
Louka: I remember one summer we did the Brooklyn Sunset cocktail and we’d give a small house-made meringue as the garnish for the drink. But being summer, at the end of the night, the meringues would stick together and not come apart which was extremely frustrating. We went from trying to create something nice for the guests to becoming a nightmare really quickly.

Do you still own Shirt Bar? Where you can organise an appointment for a tailored suit and drink a great range of whiskeys at the same time?
Louka: Shirt Bar came into existence because of our previous backgrounds. I was a stylist beforehand and we partnered up with a friend of ours who wanted to sell coffee, so we put all three into one and out it came!
Justin: We gracefully exited the lease of that location, but still do tailoring on the side by appointment in Marrickville. Fashion has run in my family for decades and it’s a huge passion of mine. If anyone wants to look fresh for a special occasion, we are happy to help!

What does the future of Deans Lounge have in store for us?
Justin: The most pressing thing is the cocktail menu for March. But with that said, we love nothing more than partnering with cool people for cool projects. More live acts with a recording-type session going or even pop-ups with chefs.
Louka: This year is going to be an exciting one. We’re looking forward to where we may end up!