Quick Take: 1802 is a chic hotel bar that serves only rum and rum cocktails (plus one cachaca option)
As rum continues to figure as an increasingly important player in the spirits world, we’re seeing more focus on it in menus, bars and shops. Mabel is Paris’ best known rum bar and has an impressive range on offer for cocktails or flights. While not a dedicated rum bar, Dirty Dick is also no slouch when it comes to the spirit, stocking a fair number for its tiki themed drinks, including Plantation O.F.T.D. created by a small group of rum experts, one of whom is the bar owner himself, Scotty Schuder. A’Rhum and Christian de Montaguère are local shops specializing in the spirit. Rumfest has been going strong for a few years and even spilled over into a Marseille show. In short, we’re liking our rum around here a lot lately. And the newest spot in the capital to capitalize on that tendency is 1802.
Located in the chic 4 star hotel Monte Cristo, 1802 offers a rum-only selection (with the exception of a cachaça or two.) Given it’s a hotel bar, that’s a pretty gutsy move as you just know guests will wander through asking for plenty of other options. But it’s a move made much stronger by the fact that local spirits expert Alexandre Vigntier curated the selection of some 500 or so references. Not only is he co-founder of the Rumporter site and publication, but also author of several books on the subject, including 101 Rhums a decouvrir.
On my visit a few weeks after their opening, I appreciated the warm welcome and the nice touch of being served fresh cane juice on arrival. How fresh? They pressed it right there in front of us. The cocktail portion of the menu includes 4 house creations from manager Morgane Poirot (previously of Buddha Bar and its associated hotel) and 5 revisited classics all at 12 Euros, which is a very nice price consideration the stylish surroundings and the level of specialization.
House creations push boundaries in surprising ways combining ingredients like cachaça with red wine or japanese rum with grilled rice tea. Though I’m surprised they don’t have a daiquiri on their short list of classics (it’s such a nice way to showcase rum), I’m very happy to see the ti’punch. Ti’punch doesn’t get as much respect as it should, maybe due to many cheap and mediocre versions being poured out in random restaurants around town. But it’s a powerhouse of a petit drink that is not only a nice way to use white rhum agricole, but also has a nice French connection with its Caribbean Isle roots. I’m always happy to see it being put front and center in a serious way. And, having tried their version, I’d say they are doing just that.
Similarly, rhum arrangé doesn’t always get shown off to its best advantage, but rather lines the shelves of cheaper student-type bars. But 1802 is giving it some special treatment and feature two different flavor combos at a time (these will rotate). Also, like Ti’punch, there’s a nice patriotic connection with roots in overseas French department Reunion island. Their current vanilla and pineapple option packs a punch and makes a nice, slow sipper for a cold winter night.
The menu itself offers a lot of additional information about the spirit, breaking it down by . category (white, ambre, aged, vintage, spiced) and providing some detailed information for each. It also sheds a little light on the three major types (Ron, Rhum and Rum). There are suggestions on how to taste rum and an informative paragraph or two on its history.
You can also get snacks – we enjoyed the meet and cheese platter, which is good quality at a nice price (10 Euros). We originally asked for the “assiette surprise” – who doesn’t want a surprize? But, apparently the staff were still waiting to discover the surprise, because they didn’t know yet what it was. And, though i didn’t try it, I love that they have Marie Galante Baba au Rhum available by the piece (3 Euros each).
Finally, they are organizing the Monte Cristo Club, which is a private club of max 100 rum-lovers. Members get four bottles a year, which they can store for their personal use at the bar, as well as other goodies like advance notice on special arrivals, discounts on the hotel rooms and the option to privatize space for small events, classes and tastings. I emailed to find out further detail on how to join and have yet to hear back. But, in general, I do like getting more interactive, creative and community focused around these kinds of things, so with no further information I can only say I like it in theory.
The hotel itself is beautiful and the bar decor is chic and cozy. The bar takes center stage and the surrounding chairs and tables come in muted jewel tones. Strategically placed plants allow for more privacy between tables. And the tiling all around the bar is quite lovely. The hotel name is a nod to Alexandre Dumas, author of the Count of Monte Cristo (one of my favorite all time books, incidentally) as is the bar name, 1802, which is his birth year.
A couple of years back, I wrote an article for Drinks International on French cocktail trends and suggested that Rhum Agricole would be rising in relevance on the drinks scene. While it may not yet fully mainstream, the fact that more rum-centric establishments are opening in the city and giving it plenty of shelf space bodes well for my theory. (as does the fact that other publications have also subsequently predicted that trend) And if you wanna get more familiar with it – or you just want a nicely made Rum Old Fashioned – give 1802 a try.
1802 at the Hotel Monte Cristo
20-22 Rue Pascal