3 Place Gen Koenig
01 40 68 51 98
The last time I drank at the Hotel Concorde Lafayette I was slurping Smurfs. So, after the recent overhaul of this lofty lounge, I once again took the elevator up to the 34th floor to see what Italian designer Pier Luigi Copat and Cocktail Zone’s Mixologist of the Year for 2009, Stephen Martin, would bring to the new bar.
No sign of the prior old-school style remains. In its place is an updated version of Miami Vice meets the Jetsons. A modern 11,000-glass rod chandelier dominates the room diffusing an alternating array of pastel to near neon green, pink and violet light. Retro chairs are grouped around simple, low, round tables and tall stools line the 15-meter long sleek metal bar.
I pulled up a stool alongside the wall-to-wall window for a martini with Bombay Original, which was icy cold and made with pleasing gin to vermouth proportions. The gin selection seems to have a little something for everyone with Bombay Original, Gordon’s, Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, Tanqueray 10, Hayman’s Old Tom, Hendricks and Sipsmith. But, even with the panoramic view, 25 Euros is a high price tag for a well-made martini. I’d also like to see a few bar snacks come with a drink in that range.
The menu is a mix of old and historically significant recipes, mass-appealers like the mojito and house creations ranging from vanilla-flavored vodka choices to bitters or bourbon based imbibes that will please a more mature palate (one of which comes with the instructions not to drink it unless you are over 50.) Martin’s menu illustrates his familiarity with the cocktail world with homage to Schumann (Gimlet a la Schumann’s) and a shout out to cocktail historian, David Wondrich, for the Chanticleer cocktail.
The cocktail menu also works la Vue’s lux angle with its separation of regular spirits listings from the “luxury best spirits.” For a fiver or so more, you can go from ‘bottom shelf’ to big spender with a Sipsmith gin, Banks Rhum, Calle 23 Tequila or Purity Vodka. All of these attention-getter brands are prevalent at cocktail salons and conferences. However, for my taste there’s some disparity in the selection. For example, while I think Sipsmith is an excellent choice in gin, Banks Rhum is better for mixing and I would have chosen something that could stand alone stronger for a ‘luxury rhum.’
The night of my visit shortly after their launch was a mix of splashy scenesters and view-seeking tourists. And the view is spectacular. But, at a price.