Paris Cocktail Week Adventures

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Hey people! It’s Paris Cocktail Week. It kicked off yesterday so I went out and got it all warmed up for you.

In addition to specials in 35 bars across the city, PCW’s programme includes other goodies like special tastings, master classes, food fun and even a couple of PopUps in The Chamber.

IMG_8976I started Saturday at the swanky Bristol for an inspired martini and Boutary Caviar presentation and pairing. Maxime and Charles guided us through history with a tasting that took us from modern day martinis and caviar to the 19th century. We learned about the parallels between the two including ebbs and flows in popularity, murky origins of their names, flavor profiles and rituals. While this was a one-day only event, you can still stop into the Bristol bar for their PCW special, the X-mas Carol.

IMG_8978Next stop: Copper Bay to test out their PCW special, the Lizzy Sour and catch up with the trio behind the bar (Elfi, Aurélie and Julien). I’ll be blogging up a proper post on this place shortly, so watch this space for more detail. Incidentally, Copper Bay’s menu includes The Beast, which is a fat-washed Bourbon made with grease from the newly opened BBQ joint of the same name. And it also my next stop…

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I popped in to chat with the always-adorable owner, Thomas, taste test some George T. Stagg bourbon and fill my belly with a bit of beef. The Beast’s PCW special is running on Wednesday only when Julien of Copper Bay will be onsite making The Beast cocktail. My guess is this one will draw some crowds so get there early!

A short metro ride and I was at another new spot on the scene, A la Francaise, where I tested out their PCW special Eau Fraiche at the small, busy upstairs restaurant bar and then headed below to catch up with Stephan, the man behind this concept bar that focuses on French cocktails.

IMG_6784And this is about the time I caught up with Mr Boley, the man behind the Red House, and managed to stay out just a bit longer for some late night fun. We made a stop into the packed Lone Palm and then finished the night with a visit to Café Moderne for a chat with Mido. I’d say any of these places are a good stop to celebrate PCW.

 

And with that PCW is off to a good IMG_8990start! It’s free to sign up for it – so check out their programme and have some fun. Or come see us over in The Chamber where we are running to special PopUps in a posh private residence as part of PCW. Monday we’ll host a modern day Absinthe Den with Pernod and Tuesday we are terribly excited to have Joseph of Mabel in the house making us some Zacapa cocktails for our rum PopUp.

So, what are you going to do with your Paris Cocktail Week?

Lulu White: Big Easy Cocktail Adventures in Paris

Lulu White Cocktail Bar Paris
Lulu White
12 rue Frochot
75009 Paris

So, remember back in 2012 when I was writing about Pigalle’s increasing cool factor and its proliferation of better bars? Back then, I was living in the area, watching the progress and reporting as it went from cocktail dead zone to cocktail destination. Well, now it’s pretty much gone full-blown and mainstream with an impressive selection of serious cocktail stops.  And, the newest addition to the area is no exception. 

lulu white cocktail barWith a Parisian Belle Époque meets New Orleans’ Storyville vibe and named for one of NOLA’s notorious madams, Lulu White couldn’t have picked a better location than this neighborhood full of working girl bars and girlie-cum-cocktail bars.  Pass through the discrete entrance located just next door to Dirty Dick and escape into an elegant, art nouveaux world with a carrousel style bar reminiscent of New Orleans’ Hotel Montleone (a place near and dear to the cocktail lover’s heart).  Considering that the duo behind this drinking spot, Dotan Shalev et Timothée Prangé, made a name for themselves with the nicely designed Little Red Door, it’s no surprise that we like what we see here.

Le Carmen Miranda Cocktail Lulu White ParisBut, let’s move past her pretty face and check out the personality. In a nod to the Bohemian culture of Paris in the 20’s, the menu includes an absinthe flight, 7 absinthe-infused drinks at 11-12 Euros, one cocktail priced at 15 Euros, bottled beers, wine and Champagne.  Putting absinthe in every mixed drink on the menu is a ballsy move.  And one I raise my glass to.  The menu has been crafted so that the absinthe improves each cocktail without taking over. Even if you think you won’t get along with the Green Fairy, I encourage you to work through a few of their choices, which will at least challenge if not change that notion. And I hear that head barman, Matthew, is becoming a bit of an absinthe expert…

Frozen cocktail lulu white ParisOn my visit, the lovely Kelly started me off with Le Carmen Miranda: Four Roses Bourbon, Strawberry Cordial, and Pernod Absinthe, served slushy style in a coupe.  What?! Cordial + bourbon – that can be kind of too sweet, non? That’s what I thought and under other circumstances I may have shied away from it, but thankfully I let myself be led in this direction. Le Carmen Miranda is refreshing and well balanced. The Bourbon brings strength, and the cordial made with dried strawberries and tartaric acid (among other things) adds just the right one-two punch of sweet and sour to balance it out and leave you smacking your lips and salivating for the next sip.  Finally, a touch of absinthe adds some depth. (And for those of you who keep asking why it takes so long to make a cocktail…this is the one for you…no wait time!)  While not my usual go-to style, I really enjoyed starting the evening with one.  I moved onto something more in line with my personal tastes with the Beefeater based Lea d’Asco, which was equally good (but less surprising given my imbibing inclinations) So, there’s something to be said for stepping out of your comfort zone.

lulu white cocktail bar parisIt’s not just the interesting drinks, excellent service and appropriate place, that make Lulu White a worthwhile stop.  It’s surrounded by plenty of great cocktail choices.  And, word on the street is that soon we’ll also be seeing more cool new neighbors like the latest from the L’Entrée des Artistes team and the new hotel from the ECC boys.

So, although I no longer live in Pigalle, I still make regular visits to keep up with all the fun.  And, I’ll confess, I’m secretly hoping that now that I’ve moved to the 15th, I will be the catalyst for a new cocktail explosion to happen there.  Don’t laugh.  It could happen…

Mabel: Rum Cocktail Adventures in Paris

IMG_5508Mabel
58 Rue d’Aboukir
75002 Paris

In a country with historical ties to isles that have long distilled rhum agricole and a population of partygoers whose weekends are fueled by mojitos, Paris has still never managed to offer up much of interest for rum fanatics. Until recently, those looking for a more serious side of the spirit might stumble into La Rhumerie for some so-so cocktails or – more fortunately – find Dirty Dick and its healthy selection of stock. But with the newly opened Mabel, things are about to change.

IMG_5507Created by industry notable with a rum obsession, Joseph Akhavan, Mabel combines his talent with 106 (and counting….) rum references to create a menu of 15 cocktails (around 13 Euros) plus opportunities to taste some serious stuff straight. Previously of Mama Shelter (back when the cocktails were a bit more crankin’) and then of la Conserverie, Joseph has not only vitalized some cocktail programs but made impressive showings at contests, including taking the winning title at Nikka Perfect Serve.

IMG_5523Joseph’s style is polished and professional but it’s more than just his credible cocktail CV that makes him a favorite fixture on the local scene. He has a quiet, unassuming talent for creating exceptional cocktails with an appreciable subtlety. Case in point: the Sombre Detune that has a lot of things going on with Rhum Santa Teresa 1796, Compass Bay Flaming Heart, Yellow Chartreuse, Carpano Antica Formula and Dandelion & Burdock Bitters. Yet amongst all those competing personalities, there is a common thread that pulls everything together (richness, complexity, vanilla, orange notes, a spiciness) and provides a coherent background for few key characteristics to shine against – like a touch IMG_5525of smoke from the whisky or dryness from the Carpano that balances out the sweet side of the rum and chartreuse.

Nothing at Mabel is in-your-face or showy, including the décor which is simple, distressed, comfortable. Perhaps it’s this quiet concentration on quality without flashy distraction that makes this not just a good bar, but also a bartenders’ bar. On my recent visit, it was relatively quiet but taking up stool space was Tim from Monkey Shoulder (always a pleasure) and a couple of the lovely bartenders from Glass. On the menu, you’ll also find a little something from another well-known and world-travelling barman, Nicolas de Soto, who came up with the “Trader Who?” just for Mabel. On the last page of their cocktail menu, is a useful list of suggestions on other cocktail bars to visit. And just FYI, it’s named after Mabel Walker Willebrandt, named assistant attorney general of the US in ’21 and thus one of the political figures meant to uphold prohibition at the time.

IMG_5526While Mabel deserves plenty of patrons, it will never be uncomfortably overrun with them. There will be no overcrowding or drink jostling as they’ve instituting a sitting only policy and allowing for reservations. Hallelujah!

My hunch is that we’re going to hear a lot more about this spot in the New Year. Not just as the city’s drinkers discover its understated cool and develop a deeper respect for rum – but because in January they’ll be opening its adjoining Grilled Cheese shop. With Paris’ current love of all food fun, somewhat foreign and sufficiently comforting (meatballs, burgers, Mexican, etc.), I predict these little cheese sammies will not just be good, but go down a treat with the trendy crowd.

In short: This isn’t just the best rum bar in town with few rum choices. This is a great bar, full stop.

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.