Can I share something with you? I sometimes get a little ‘stage fright’ when putting up a new post after (too long of) a break from the blog. It’s like when you’re quiet through an entire dinner party and nobody notices you until you finally speak up and then everyone is listening. You better say something good, right? (And then you just ask for the salt…) But, I’m a big proponent of overcoming fear, so let’s get back to it, people!
After five or so years on the scene, La Conserverie has a little sister with the newly opened UC-61. Located in the space that was previously le 25eme Heure, this tiny bar boasts a German submarine theme complete with captain’s ‘quarters’ where books line a high shelf and cap’s hat hangs from the wall. Other than the décor change, the layout is the same as the prior bar, including a downstairs smoking room (into which a custom scent is pumped designed not to mask or compete with any odor, but compliment it.)
I arrived just after 10pm, rang the buzzer at the non-descript entrance and was greeted by bartender Anaïs Teulier. (Another happy overlap with the prior bar, making a smoother transition for clients of le 25eme Heure). The last time I had seen Anaïs was probably a year prior when I was judging the Disaronno Mixing Star competition, in which she was participating. In addition to making it into the Mixing Star comp last year, she also took home the Grand Prix Bacardi-Martini, so this lady is clearly comfortable with the competition.
After a quick tour of the new décor, I checked out the good collection of gin, discussed a few with Anaïs that I hadn’t tried and went with a Leopold’s & Dolin martini. At her suggestion I followed up with La Vie en Deux.
To be frank, I wasn’t immediately convinced by this combo of Talisker, Fernet, Sherry Fino and maple syrup. However, the more I sipped, the more I became intrigued and…amused by it (there is a nice little backstory that she’ll give you about it). I tasted each ingredient separately but also felt them working together (something that’s often talked about with a cocktail but rarely achieved). After a bit of time with this cocktail, I was taken by it and think it makes an ideal aperitif in that it actually makes your mouth water and prepares you for something to follow.
In general, the menu doesn’t diverge from what you will find in a lot of the better cocktail bars in town: a good range of base spirits, a nice selection of brands, 15 or so cocktails on offer, ranging from 12 to 15 Euros. Anaïs seems to bring something quieter, and (dare I say it?) more feminine than many of her contemporaries. Not difficult in an industry dominated by gregarious guys…and I love the bubbly boys, but it’s a slightly different feel (The boy/girl bar dichotomy is subject worthy of a whole different post and I’m always hesitant to reference gender in that way because I just like “people and their skills.” I’m super PC like that, don’t you know?)
I’ve always been a fan of Eric and what he’s done with La Conserverie….they may be busy, they may be quiet, but they’ve always brought in some top notch bartenders (Joseph, Simon, Romain, I’m talkin’ to you) I’m earlier to bed these days than I used to be, so I never hit the 25eme Heure late nights and I’ve only visited UC-61 before midnight. So, I don’t know what the vibe is like after the bewitching hour. But they stay open Friday and Saturday until 4am. (just until 2am Tues – Thurs) Anaïs tells me the objective is to remain low-key and relaxed. And, I like that.
So, if you’re in the neighborhood, and want to get over your fear of approaching unmarked doors and ringing buzzers (and as I said, I’m a big fan of getting over fear), you’ll be greeted by a lovely lady who will open up the door as well as a few drink possibilities for you.