Le Syndicat: Frenchy Cocktail Adventures in Paris

IMG_5385 Le Syndicat
51 rue Faubourg Saint Denis
75010 Paris

IMG_5372French ingredients have always been a cornerstone of cocktail culture, lately, la belle France has really been looking inward for inspiration. Case in point: the newly opened le Syndicat.

Le Syndicat is the self-proclaimed “Organization in Defense of French Spirits” and, as such, focuses strictly on French ingredients.  The concept of its creators, Sullivan Doh and Romain Le Mouellic, is to stock the bar with bottles of gentian based beverages, French Gins, Cognacs, Armagnac, and other ingredients hailing from l’Hexagone.

This “Made in France” attitude carries through to the menu as well where you’ll find three distinct sections that give guests a better glimpse into the local liquids.

IMG_5387Tasting flights: For 15 to 20 Euros, clients can choose from a selection of tasting flights like the Armagnac Signature (3 Bas-Armagnac from different decades dating back as far as 1970). These trios of drinks are designed to help customers discover new tastes and better appreciate French spirits and ingredients.

Syndicat Classiques: Here, you’ll find a selection of five classic cocktails from 8 to 13 Euros that have been recreated Syndicat-style. For example, the Nevez Oldfashion incorporates whisky from Brittany, Chouchen syrup made onsite and Maquis bitters.

IMG_5379Insane St Denis Style: With talent behind the bar like Sullivan (previously of ECC and Sherry Butt) it’s no surprise that there is also a section dedicated to house creations, ranging from 9 to 13 Euros, and showcasing Corsican eau de vie, Byrrh, Calvados and the like.

The playlist centers on hip-hop in a very intentional nod towards the artists who helped create a resurgence of interest in a very national product: Cognac. And they’re located in an area that the Guardian has aptly called “Paris’s hottest new micro-quartier near Gare du Nord” so expect a mix of customers from curious residents of the corner to in-the-know cocktail hounds coming from across town.

Paris Cocktails & Food Pairings: Pasdeloup

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Pasdeloup
108, rue Amelot
75011 Paris

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All summer we were hearing about a handful of very promising openings to come. And, while we’re still waiting for most of them, Pasdeloup led the pack by opening doors a couple of months ago.

This casually chic spot boasts some of the city’s best bar talent thanks to Amanda Boucher, previously of Candelaria (which just took a spot on the worlds 50 top bars list – again). Amanda has displayed an enthusiasm, inquisitiveness and study over the past several years allowing her to hone her skills to impressive levels.

IMG_4911At Pasdeloup, she has created a menu of around 10 cocktails at 12 Euros each. There is no pandering to the masses with a simple fruit+vodka choice. Their vodka cocktail includes vinegar, as well as cocchi Americano and pisco which results in something refreshing, bracing and a little bit unexpected for the general drinking public. A look at the rest of the menu shows a competent and calculated sense of balance within individual cocktails as well as throughout the menu. Many of the cocktails are pre-batched, making for more consistency. Those looking for the classics will have no problem here, as confirmed with my usual martini order.

IMG_4908Additionally, they created a small selection of four cocktail and food pairings like a Spritz du moment paired with Shitake for 14 Euros. Of special note is the Chevreau complet (22 Euros), which comes with the “A” cocktail (otherwise, unavailable outside of the pairing). This dry, sparkling drink is not intended to be served alone, but only alongside the chevreau sandwich to offset its meaty richness. The results are rather lipsmackingly good.

[Comments have been disabled on the blog due to spam.  But feel free to start up a discussion on your thoughts about that bar on its post on our FB page!]

Bottled Paris Cocktail Adventures: La Cave a Cocktail

boutique_LCAC_2La Cave a Cocktail
62 rue Greneta
75002 Paris

Last night the girls and I popped into Club RaYe to visit with the owner and meet up with Tim from Monkey Shoulder.  We did some recon on the location for a future meetup and some taste testing of a cocktail kindly created by Tim a named after me.  Does this have anything to do with the subject of the post? Nope.  But I mention it because we had a great time exploring and testing and both private Kafka bar of Club RaYe and Monkey Shoulder will feature at our Autumn meetup this month & it’s going to be a hell of a lot of fun.  So be there, or stay home and cry because all activities that you could be doing instead will be heart-breakingly boring.  Anyway, after we finished planning the meetup, we went off to dinner, but not without a quick visit for some more taste testing at La Cave a Cocktail.

boutique_LCAC_1La Cave a Cocktail is a new breed of bottle shop that just opened doors and sells a variety of bottled cocktails.  The basic range includes standards like a Cosmo, familiars like the Pornstar martini and unusuals like Duc o’Lada (Cachaca based if you’re curious).  Want a step up from the standard? They also offer a Prestige selection of barrel aged cocktails.  And, for those who want something soft, they also offer a couple of non-alcoholic options by the bottle as well.

boutique_LCAC_4Between the three of us, we sampled a few and my favorite by far was the Martinez N. 3 which is livened up with the addition of some Scrappy’s Lavender bitters. We also took a peek at the cave where they are barrel aging this and others in the Prestige range.This is strictly a shop, not a bar.  So while you may be able to sample, you’ll have to take your bottle elsewhere to enjoy your cocktails. You may be finding them soon in bars or restaurants and you can also talk to these boys about delivering.

Bottles are good for about six cocktails and cost 30 Euros for the regular range and 48 for the Prestige.  And it’s just down the street from where we are holding the meetup this month, so a perfect occasion to pop in and see what they’re up to.

Aviation inspired Paris Cocktail Adventures: L’oiseau Blanc at the Peninsula Hotel

Paris viewsL’oiseau Blanc bar of the Peninsula Hotel
19 Avenue Kléber
Paris 75116

Let’s try something a little different around here. As most of you know, I’ve been busy with The Chamber activities, various freelance writing gigs, the usual fun with friends and a few other 52-related projects that I really need to finish up. Also, it seems like people are spending less time reading long posts and more time looking at quick pictures and summaries. So, I’m moving to a shorter and more factual format on a trial basis. This means I’ll be getting back to more regular posts. Like this one for the L’oiseau Blanc…

martini and fruit cocktailsThe luxury hotel Peninsula has made Paris its European point of entry, introducing a few new drinking and dining options to the city. The rooftop restaurant and bar, L’oiseau Blanc, was named after the French plane that attempted to make the first non-stop flight from Paris to New York in 1927 but mysteriously disappeared. Fittingly, the bar is kitted out with aviation themed decor and old pictures of the airplane. It offers up a 360 degree few of Paris in a sophisticated and staid space. The drinks menu features around a dozen drinks ranging from appropriate classics (Aviation, anyone?) to twists on classics like their Take Off (gin, sweet vermouth and bitters). Here you’ll find the excellent service and hush hush feel that high-end hotels are known for. But the big draw? The spectacular terrace with to-die-for views. But go early as I have a feeling they keep a lot of those seats reserved for hotel guests.

Cocktails: B
Service: A
Ambience: B-
Cocktail Prices: 22 – 25 Euros

Now that you’ve had a little taste of the possible direction I’ll be taking the posts, do weigh in and let me know what you think of this approach.

Submarine Cocktail Adventures in Paris: UC-61

IMG_2186UC-61 4, rue de l’Arc-de-Triomphe

75017 Paris

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!

IMG_2204After 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. IMG_2210

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. IMG_2222

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?)

IMG_2205I’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.

50’s California in Paris Cocktail Adventures: Lone Palm

barLone Palm
21 rue keller
75011 Paris

bar artThe boys behind the Tiki Lounge now have a new spot with a personality all its own. This time they’ve traded blowfish lamps and masks for something more midcentury modern. Here, you can sip like a Californian lounge lizard of the 50’s when “modern design” meant comfy booths, kicky palm prints and Jetsons-like abstract art.

I grabbed a stool at the beautiful bright green tiled bar to check out the menu. The thirteen cocktails are an interesting mix. You’ll find a lemon drop, Royal Jamaican Yacht Club and Clover Club hanging with some of house creations that incorporate things like Duvel syrup or red pepper and coriander infused tequila.

martiniAlso on the menu: a Dirty Martini. And, while I generally keep mine clean, this seems like an appropriate choice for a location rocking this kind American retro vibe. There’s a range of gins in the house including Hendrick’s, G’Vine, Beefeater 24, Beefeater, the Botanist and Monkey 47.

At Lone Palm, things are more relaxed than you’ll find at some of the city’s very serious cocktail bars. Reuben was behind the bar and, if I understood (read: overheard) correctly, rather than coming from a bar background he has his own line of shoes. However, he still turned out a nicely made classic martini in a well-chilled glass that started my night off right.

IMG_0648They’re ticking all the (now standard) boxes with bitters, freshly squeezed juices, a variety of spirits and so on. But they still manage to blend into the Bastille bar style with a low-key attitude along with low-key prices (7 to 10 Euros). And, with a happy hour from 6pm to 8pm and the Café Moderne just a few doors down, rue Keller is shaping up to be a fun option for a little bit of bar hopping.

IMG_0657The night of my visit, French singer Gaspard Royant was in the house for a photo shoot. With his Roy Orbison style and vinyl tendencies, he fit in perfectly at this place with its rockin’ soundtrack courtesy of an old turntable behind the bar.

Lone Palm is a laid back and nostalgic nod to simpler times that turns out good drinks at good prices without the need to put on airs.

Private Cocktail PopUp Adventures: the Chamber

Hello, lovelies! We interrupt your regularly scheduled cocktail reviews to bring you a little information about our new project, the Chamber.

The Chamber is a Private PopUp and Cocktail Club brought to you by 52 Martinis.  Although we think there’s a lot going on with the Chamber, the very basic idea is simple: Join the club & get invited to interesting events created exclusively for the members. To introduce the Chamber, we’re kicking off with a private Focus on France Cocktail PopUp. Interested in joining for these ultra swank, intimate, convivial cocktail evenings? Want to have a bit of a secret cocktail experience like these lovely guests did last night?  We only have three more  days left & spaces are going, so sign up here.

If you can’t make this week’s launch PopUp, we hope to see you in the future. We’ll be running monthly themed PopUps and other one-night-only events (like cocktail classes, master classes, bloody mary brunches, wine tastings & more). We’ll be introducing new and interesting products, places and people to our members and striving to create a more unique way to socialize or go out.

To encourage a sense of community and to ensure members get access to limited spaces for events, membership is currently limited to a maximum of 500 members for the first year. For the moment, registration is closed to all but the guests at this week’s PopUp who are recieving invitations.  Following the PopUp, any remaining space will be up for grabs. But that doesn’t mean 52 Martinis is slipping away!  We’ll still be here providing bar reviews, writing for other sites and publications, running the regular meetups and generally having a grand time of things. But we’re really excited to share these new things with you.  So come join us this week for the PopUp. It’s really a sexy little soirree of a PopUp.
Otherwise, a bientot and we’ll see you around here or the Chamber.

 

Parisian Coffee and Cocktail Adventures: Lockwood

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Lockwood
73 Rue d’Aboukir
75002 Paris

With the emergence of a new breed of coffee bar, cocktails aren’t the only notable drinking trend to hit the capital over the past few years. Recently, three brothers have capitalized on both crazes in creating the Lockwood.

IMG_9233Paris’ latest It-spot combines three different drinking styles all under one roof with Brûlerie Belleville coffee and light snacks during the day, easy-going aperitif options early evening and serious cocktails from 8 p.m. onwards in the downstairs bar.

Upstairs, a large, clean glass front brightens things up while mellow wood tones and soft light keep it warm. Bottles hang from bungee cords above a small bar (reminding me of the setup up at the Tippling Club….), coffee filters serve as lampshades and customers cluster around high tables. Slip down the back stairs and you’ll find a collection of stone-vaulted rooms with low chairs and tables and a larger central bar. There the vibe is more conducive to nighttime drinking. The Lockwood feels both Parisian and international at the same time, which is no big surprise considering the team’s collective experience includes time at Silencio, Ten Belles, plus a few international endeavors.

IMG_9227The night I stopped in with Laurance, Thibaut and Regis, we started upstairs where the menu offers a dozen drinks that kick the night off nicely. The aperitif aspect is obvious with options including bitters like Aperol Spritz, Campari Orange, or Americano. There’s a Paloma on the menu, which has been coming into cocktail play a bit more recently plus a couple of hot options like mulled wine or Irish Coffee. My martini was enjoyable as were the Whiskey Pomme (Buffalo Trace and apple juice from the owners’ family orchards) and a Negroni. While there are no surprises, they are none needed to deliver a good drinking experience. It’s a solid and satisfying selection of aperitifs ranging from 7 to 12 Euros plus some beer, bubbles and wines.

IMG_9255The larger downstairs bar does things a bit differently with just under 20 cocktails at 11 to 15 Euros. The Zacapa old fashioned (old fashioned variation with Zacapa rum 23, house syrup of apple & cinnamon, orange and angostura) was nice, although ever so slightly sweet for my taste. The Whet Appetite is a similar to some options we’ve seen around Paris with its  combo of tequila, cool cucumber and a Tabasco heat. Their rendition of the Penicillin delivers the familiar smoke and honey flavors you’d expect.

IMG_9258Ingredients are fresh and preparation considerate. They aren’t overextending themselves but rather focusing on a manageable menu, which is key to successfully pulling off a concept that focuses on doing different things simultaneously.

On the night I was there, I not only enjoyed myself but noted there were plenty of booze and bar biz people in as well – which I take as a good sign. At this point, Paris is probably not desperate for another cocktail bar.  And, that’s why Lockwood is exactly the type of place the city now needs.  Its relaxed attitude, understated cool, and focus on quality ingredients are the right combination to satisfy the coffee connoisseur, casual early evening drinker as well as the late night bar crawler. Given their initial showing and reception, they are set to be a popular and prevalent force on the Paris drinking scene.  Fortunately they open from 8am onwards making it a venue worth a visit anytime of the day.

 

Champagne in a Bubble Paris Adventures: le Bulle du Collectionneur

main bubble cocktailsle Bulle du Collectionneur
Hotel du Collectionneur
51 rue de Courcelles
75008 Paris

Paris cocktails1The Bubble is back!  A few years ago, we stopped into the Hilton Hotel Bubble Bar.  Since then, the hotel has gained a star and changed its name, but it has kept the winter tradition of blowing up the courtyard bubble for a festive cold weather coupe de champagne.

While on our last visit it was a white, winter wonder land sponsored by Tattinger, this year it’s a sexy darker decor with Moet on offer with the option of tiny plates of tasty snacks.  Otherwise the space and setup are basically the same as the previous occasion.

exterior bubble cocktailsDuring the day it’s a tea bar with sweet snacks like Christophe Adam eclairs or Bruno de Lorgues truffles. And this year it remains open until March.

At 24+ a glass of champagne it’s a bit of an indulgent evening.  But, worth it if you’re looking to stretch out the holiday feeling by escaping into this fairytale like little bubble hidden away in a sweet courtyard.

More SoPi Cocktail Adventures: Artisan

IMG_8411 Artisan
14, rue Bochart de Saron
75009 Paris

IMG_7911Brought to you by the Maison Mere team, Artisan is the latest addition to the growing list of interesting places around Pigalle. However, unlike Maison Mere, which swings from sad quasi-quesadillas to surprisingly good mini-burgers, Artisan is consistently very good. I can comfortably attest to this after several successful visits.

Artisan’s understated décor is charming and relaxed. Dim industrial lighting and flickering votive candles reflecting in distressed mirrors shine through the large bay windows giving off a warm glow that beckons passersby. The rest of the street feels a little dreary in comparison to the simple yet inviting ambience.

IMG_8750Once inside, patrons pull up a stool at the U shaped bar or grab a table to enjoy something from the short, but solid selection of cocktails under the direction of Frédéric Le Bordays. The last time we saw Fred here on the blog, he was doing cocktail classes at la Cuisine. But it’s always a pleasure to see him either here or in real life, so I’m happy that he’s currently involved in this enterprise. Running his own cocktail consulting business and having just published his first cocktail book, he brings a good level of experience to the table.

IMG_7928There’s a quiet confidence to both his comportment and his cocktails. While Artisan has incorporated some successful trends like small plates, large format drinks (their punch serves four) or bottled cocktails, nothing feels gimmicky or risky. It’s quite simply a well-put together cocktail program that is as nicely balances as Fred’s drinks.

The cocktail menu is expected to change every two weeks. While I feel like that’s rather ambitious and not really necessary, it doesn’t detract from the bar’s appeal either. But due to ever-changing choice, I won’t focus so much on specific drinks I’ve tried (of which there have been several) but more the overall impression. The 8 cocktails remain in the typical price range of 11 to 13 Euros. The menu covers a nice selection of spirits and incorporates high quality, fresh ingredients. Fred neither shies away from dark and bitter ingredients nor intentionally pushes demanding or precious options. Syrups made with such things as yellow beetroot or mulled wine work well in his recipes. In short: cocktails, as they should be.

IMG_7916For more choice, straying from the menu poses no problem. The staff working with Fred have skills and experience to handle these requests. On my first visit, I was happy to see Keltoum at the bar. Considering her training with the Experimental Cocktail Club group and her work that I’d seen while judging the Abuelo cocktail competition, I was comfortable starting off with my standard martini, which was well made.

And, if you want something beyond the (excellent!) olives served alongside the cocktails, IMG_7932move on to the tapas-like menu for a snack or meal. In the kitchen, Vanessa Krycève (who has previously worked with the likes of Pierre Herme, Guy Savoy and Laduree) makes magic happen on small plates with her takes on French classics like country terrines, mushroom veloute, or brandade. And bonus: the kitchen stays open late.

Given its positive reception and the reputations of those involved, Artisan pulls in the food and drinks folks along with a crowd of fashionable, bed-headed and bespectacled locals. There are no reservations so go early evening, mid-week, if you want to snag a seat and get more focused service.

In short: I’m a fan of Artisan.