Mabel: Rum Cocktail Adventures in Paris

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.

Parisian Coffee and Cocktail Adventures: 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.


Chalet Cocktail Advantures: Park Hyatt Christmas Terrace

Park Hyatt
5 Rue de la Paix
75002 Paris

I’m all about the holiday spirit this year.  I’ve been going to Christmas markets, gazing at the lights and wrapping pressies with glee. So the Park Hyatt’s temporary terrace chalet seemed like the perfect spot for a seasonal sip.

From now until 5 January, this swank hotel has converted its lovely terrace into winter-wonderland complete with Christmas trees, a bit of faux snow and a mini-chalet.   The Park Hyatt has been known for pricey nice cocktails and the current menu is no exception. In addition to ten or so house cocktails, they’re featuring 7 seasonal cocktails from 24 to 26 Euros.

While I enjoyed a Ms Ho (pisco, sloeberry gin, orange juice, sauvignon syrup and ginger ale), it lacks a bit of strength and nuance that I look for so it might be a better choice for a better choice for those seeking something sweet and/or fruity.  However, I loved Jane’s Smash in Paris with Applejack and rhubarb bitters, served as a julep.  When drinking outdoors on cool winter nights, it may seem counterintuitive to order a cocktail so packed with crushed ice that the tin cup holding it is developing a frost, but the strength of the drink make it a perfect belly warmer.

Although they have installed heaters to keep customers cozy on chilly nights, it can still get cold enough to necessitate bundling up a bit.  On the evening of our visit they were installing more heaters, which may change that.

The small chalet serves as a shopping space that can hold just a few people at a time (and run by an external vendor.) It’s a cute idea, but I am not loving the products in the shop.  It could use the booste of either very unique products or some kind of theme instead of a random collection not very original candles, stuffed animals, and sparkly make-up bags.

Overall, the Park Hyatt is definitely a spot where you pay to partake.  But if, like me, you want an extra hit of holiday cheer this year, their terrace is a good place to get it.

Art Deco Cocktail Adventures: L’Etage at Les Jalles – CLOSED

14 Rue des Capucines
75002 Paris
01 42 61 66 71

I don’t really spend all of my time drinking and eating.  I also spend a lot of time reading, researching, writing and talking about drinking and eating.  So, naturally, I hear a lot of buzz. When a friend recently called for a restaurant recommendation that was new and cool and trendy and busy and good (in other words: buzzy), I immediately thought of the latest venture from the duo behind the exceedingly popular Volnay: les Jalles.  In the last month, the blogosphere has been nicely noisy about this new eatery.  However, what piqued my curiosity was not the reportedly fantastic food.  It was the buzz I had been hearing about their bar, l’Etage for months prior from some notable cocktail names.

A few days after they opened, Kate and I made our way through the tasteful art deco dining room of les Jalles, up the back stairs to l’Etage to see what hid behind the hype.  We found ourselves in a sophisticated and seductive space, where period appropriate paintings pop against dark walls and sexy staff stands behind the shiny bar in somberly elegant uniform.

Classy style carries through to the menu with its small but strong selection of eight drinks, including a crusta, a julep and a cobbler made with choice ingredients. The man behind the menu is bar manager, Simon, previously of la Conserverie. And, patrons can confidently go off menu considering he not only honed his skills at a great Paris cocktail spot, but has also worked the circuit abroad, including stints in both Australia and London.

My martini was not the first I’ve had from Simon, but was just as consistently good as the previous ones. When he recommended a Martinez as my follow up, I was happy to go that route and mentioned that it ranked highly among my most memorable cocktail experiences, thanks to one several years back London bar, Montgomery Place.  Coincidentally, turns out that’s also the bar he worked in London, so he stirred up a Martinez that was reminiscent of the one I recalled so fondly.  I, also, of course enjoyed a sip Kate’s Bwa-Lele (two types of rum, velvet falernum, lime and tiki bitters) and was particularly impressed with the presentation of her Calvados Crusta, which came in a glass entirely coated with fine sugar.

I stopped in for another visit last night and Simon started me off with a personalized concoction of gin, Suze, celery bitters, Noilly Pratt and fresh coriander.  This wouldn’t be a drink for everyone, but it was just right for me: something strong, dry and bitter with a fresh & herby nose thanks to the coriander.  I followed with a Sazerac, for which they normally use Rittenhouse Rye, but in this case, Simon broke out a bottle of Michter’s US1 Straight Rye that he had just brought back from New York. I found the Michter’s a bit sweeter and less complex than many ryes, which made for an easily sippable Sazerac that will please a larger range of palettes.  Word is that the menu will be updated soon, but the Bwa-Lele and Crusta will likely remain.

An absinthe fountain on the bar gets occasional use.  On a side note, I think it would be great to see more bars doing absinthe drips.  While it’s becoming more common to see fountains in bars and many consider it a bit passé in the constant quest for something new and unusual in the cocktail world, I don’t believe it’s been fully explored and pushed beyond its novelty aspect.  In a city whose population is familiar with Pernod and which is historically no stranger to the green fairy, more bars could cultivate a taste for it in their customer base.

Drink prices are slightly above average at 16 Euros each, but those wanting the atmosphere with something a little less spendy can enjoy an aperitif at a reasonable 5 to 9 Euros.

L’Etage will attract a crowd of sophisticated urbanites looking to while away a few hours over a well made drink and listening to smoky jazz numbers from the current musical attraction and French chanteuse, Caroline Nin.

Despite high quality quaffs, excellent bar staff and an elegant environment, the bar is still relatively undiscovered as everyone rushes to the restaurant downstairs.  But, my guess is that won’t last for long once the bar buzz gets going. So, get there before everyone else does.

DIY Martini Adventures: Jefrey’s update

14, Rue St Sauveur
75002 Paris

Due to the nature of this blog, I write about all my experiences: the good, the bad and the bubbly. While I don’t consider my reviews the final word on any bar, I do try to maintain the credibility of my personal impressions.  To do that, I stick to my own opinion, take a deep breath, and hit ‘publish’ without stressing that it won’t please everyone. One of the uncomfortable consequences of this is that sometimes I hear back from bar owners who aren’t so pleased with my impressions.

Which brings me to a recent mail from the owner of Jefrey’s, also a reader of 52 Martinis, who got in touch after my recent review.  I don’t intentionally set out to make anyone feel bad, so I appreciated his attitude that critics can push one to improve and happily accepted his invitation to come for the launch of their new cocktail menu and DIY Martini.

On the night of the launch party, I chatted with the friendly owners who are admittedly beginners but passionate about creating a welcoming environment and a great bar. Granted, it’s tough to judge a place when the drinks are free and party atmosphere is buzzing, but I think they’re making conscientious steps towards stepping up their game.

First off, the menu prices seem to have dropped slightly so they are more in line with other spots on the street and we’re seeing fewer sweet and more sophisticated options, like the Jefrey’s sazerac. While the menu still has plenty to please those who go the cosmo route, there are now more options for something a bit saucier.

Of particular interest to me, is their DIY Martini.  Customers create bespoke martinis using a printed checklist to choose brand and dosage of spirits, garnish, preparation and extras like a dash of orange bitters. A box at the bottom of the form allows you to fill in the name your creation. Of course, I could always go into a bar and simply tell them how I want my martini, but not everyone is a fanatic and might not know how to order what they want.  This method gives those that are less familiar with the makings of a martini the confidence to choose and the opportunity to learn a bit more about the king of cocktails.

This method also allows more control over the size and cost of the martini as the price is based on dosage. For example, a centiliter of Tanqueray is 2 Euros. So, you build your martini to size, which is reflected in the end price.  Martini-virgins can sample a small one or curious cocktillians can try several variations without emptying their wallets or falling off the barstools.

I skipped over the vodka choices (SKYY, Ketel One, Belvedere and Christiana) and went straight for the gin with a stirred 1 to 4 part Noilly Prat and Tanqueray martini with a twist.  While I’d love to see more choices of gin, their selection of three works.  Tanqueray provides a classic choice, Hendrick’s ups their trendy cocktail cred, and Caorunn gives a taste of something not found in most Paris bars.

So, kudos to Jefrey’s for working towards bigger and better things.  Just as I can’t please every reader, no bar can please every drinker. But, I’m not in the business of selling drinks, so I do respect those who are for making the effort.

Dandy Cocktail Adventures: the Art Room

The Art Room
13 rue Tiquetonne
75002 Paris

The newly opened Art Room is a fashion dandy’s dream with three floors of carefully calculated frivolity. The main floor is a glossy black cube with films projected on the walls, reproduction chairs and super-stylish chandeliers.  From there, you can take a seat upstairs in the miniscule loft or head downstairs where flash meets fashion in a mixture of sequined walls, simple white pod chairs and antique accents.  They clearly have an aesthetic in mind and manage to successfully marry different styles to create their own unique statement.  This extends to the bar stock as well, where bottles seem to be displayed by design rather than content resulting in a curio cabinet feel.  Alongside the spirits are tinctures, bitters, sprays and decanters of various shapes and sizes holding house recipes like cinnamon and gold leaf infused vodka.

The barman has a high-end hotel background so is presumably familiar with the standards. However, their menu focuses on their sixteen house creations which are named only by number: Secret No. 1, Secret No. 2, etc.  Yet they even manage to make their mark on the classics as my martini came with a spray of rosemary essence.  The Secret series of cocktails have a concept feel which is emphasized by the byline accompanying each one such as “La Resurrection Scandaleuse”

One of the owners explained that they are focusing on fresh ingredients and creating cocktails influenced by French culinary culture rather than just following today’s mixology trends.  This results in a menu focused on fresh ingredients and homemade infusions, which I appreciate.  The downside is that there is some inconsistency in the nuances of each cocktail. I love the elegant simplicity of No. 15 (Champagne and rose, with rosebuds floats) but there are too many ingredients fighting for front and center in the bright blue No. 7 (Gin, ginger, blue curacao, passion fruit pearls and lime.) No. 10 will please casual clientele, but I could use a bigger whiskey kick in it to make it a more interesting cocktail. And, I’m curious about the more adventurous No. 6 with rhum, apple, black tea, cloves and cinnamon served warm with a beetroot cube.

I respect the philosophy of fresh ingredients and unique cocktails, but I think they need to tweak the menu just slightly so that each Secret shines rather than having a handful of standouts to justify 16 to 18 Euros a drink. At those prices customers must to be willing to splash out the cash for the ultra-cool scene rather than just the drinks.

Gentlemen’s Club Cocktail Adventures: Jefrey’s

14, Rue St Sauveur
75002 Paris

Even though Jefrey’s was freshly opened when I stopped in, I’ve been sitting on the post for awhile because I wasn’t immediately inspired. Since I’ve written about it for other sites it’s time to get inspired to give the full rundown with the nit-picking reign that only having my own blog allows.

Boldly placed just steps away from the well-established Experimental Cocktail Club, Jefrey’s touts itself as a speakeasy type gentlemen’s club. The interior looks promising: dim and sexy, small and intimate with deep purple velour sofas, comfortable arm chairs and elegant touches like the vintage seltzer bottles and cut-glass decanters.However, it does seem to be a gentlemen’s club that wants no fatties at the bar as the bar chairs are the tightest I’ve ever squeezed my bum into. An inch more ass and I would have needed the assistance of the pretty hostess plus a barman or two to pry my butt out of it.

At the time of my visit the menu featured a selection of cocktails in the mid-teens price range, including standards like the obligatory cosmo and house creations that feature a lot of fresh fruit and flavored syrups.Some are divided into ‘for him’ and those ‘for her.’My martini was competently made, yet slightly warm, and came with simple savory cracker bites.I followed up with a margarita, which if memory serves, was nice enough. The spirits selection is somewhat small but with a few nice choices. While I take issue with the vodka heavy selection, I have no real gripe with the way the drinks are made.

My main issue is that the whole operation feels a bit superficial. My understanding is that the owner(s) is a finance guy from London who wanted to open a ‘speakeasy’ in Paris. An external agency was brought in to temporarily staff the bar and get things running. And, I think that shows through.They’re doing business as usual with nice enough drinks that will appeal to a wider audience who are looking for ‘classy’ cocktails rather than more challenging fare.They’re not going any deeper than making accessible drinks cleverly disguised as something more innovative.

This is the type of bar where you can buy your booze by the bottle. One thing I really like is the gorgeous display case where customers can store their purchased bottles.These little touches dress the place up and it will definitely appeal to a large portion of the drinking population in Paris looking for a sexy stop to sip. If you’re not a highly demanding quaffer, you’ll enjoy a visit. But, I personally find it a little soulless.

Soviet Cocktail Adventures: le Molotov

4 rue du Port Mahon
75002 Paris
Tel.: 01 73 70 98 46

Russian sounds irresistibly sexy to me. I’ve always been fascinated by the language and its unfamiliar alphabet. I took a Russian class once, but never got much further than learning the meaning of babushka. Contrary to its appealing sound, I discovered it’s not necessarily a word I want whispered in my ear. Many years ago, we went to St Petersburg for our annual NYE trip and stopped into Zov Ilicha, a Soviet-themed bar/resto jam-packed with Lenin busts, quasi-porn, and wait staff in scanty communist era inspired uniforms. I’m American and I’m old enough to remember the whole ‘Tear Down the Wall’ business. But even though I recall it, I’m young enough that at the time I wasn’t totally clued in and found it all vaguely frightening, appealing, exciting and confusing. So I begrudgingly own up to my fascination with CCCP kitsch at various points in my life. But, as a theme, it’s a bit passé now, no?

This week, Kim, Heather and I decided to lift the fanciful iron curtain that separates the recently opened le Molotov from modern day Paris and find out. Beyond the barely marked entrance and blacked-out windows, lies a small, dark and somewhat claustrophobic bar space decked out in typical retro-Ruskie decor. A steep, skinny, candlelit staircase in the corner leads to a small restaurant area where ‘clandestine’ law breakers are smoking in public spaces.

A Communist theme is reflected in menu procurement as well. I believe there is only one in the whole building and we had to wait for the restaurant to finish with it first. When it came, I realized why our upstairs comrades may have taken so long with it. Incredibly dim lighting combined with a handwritten (in cursive) menu in fine ballpoint pin on grid paper takes a while to see clearly. From what I could decipher, various vodka based drinks are on offer.

I tried – unsuccessfully – for a martini and ended up with a ginger, basil, vodka combo. Kim & Heather ordered white and black Russians. By then I had given up on any serious cocktail recon and I don’t even ask what kind of vodka was in my mediocre mixture. Kim’s white Russian, was basically undrinkable. I’m not a white Russian fan myself, but even so, I can tell on tasting one if it’s decent or not. This tasted like powdered milk mixed with water and cheap coffee liqueur. (even though the bottle’s on the shelf, I really don’t think they’re using Kahlua)

We decided to call it good after that round and asked for the bill. For drinks and service of this quality we were shocked to pay 15 Euros each.

It’s no secret that I’m not averse to divey bars or sketchily run places and kind of get a certain kick out of them. But, I AM averse to paying cocktail prices way beyond what the experience merits. While the sneaky smoking area might pull in a certain clientele, the cocktails here will not. I can see it drawing a crowd of ironic hipster wanna-be’s and patrons who are impressed enough by a change of pace from the common Parisian bar decor to be fooled into thinking it’s something more than it is. But, for me, I’d rather have the Zov Ilicha in Russia. At least they had naughty pictures on the wall for entertainment!

(NOTE: I’m having camera issues, so recent post pics will be a bit off and on. The 1st picture used here of Molotov was on both Cityvox and Do it in Paris, so I’m not sure where to credit. And, the 2nd picture us at Zov Ilicha in St Petersburg)

La Conserverie

La Conserverie
37 bis, rue du Sentier
75002 Paris

Tel: 01 40 26 14 94

As some of you know, I like to throw around bit of Forest philosophy from time to time. Here’s today’s: You never know if you’ve surpassed your full potential until you’ve failed. I’ll let you chew on that for a bit while I get on with the blog post for my latest adventure at a worthwhile and unique Paris address: La Conserverie.

The entry signage of this two level restaurant/bar is of the subtle variety. Clients are greeted by elegantly eclectic utility-chic decor and dangerously comfy sofas, chairs and sturdy tables strategically grouped around this lounge lovers’ haven.

I started with a well made Hendrick’s martini (of which I forgot to snap a pic) and scanned the large menu, which includes food and drink. Their restaurant hook is interesting: they serve exclusively conserved goodies. While I haven’t sampled the fare myself, word on the street is that they’re selecting from the finest and tastiest, so don’t let that aspect deter you from giving it a try.

But, more to my point: the cocktails. The gin selection offers up some happy finds for Paris such as Plymouth Navy Strength, Hayman’s Old Tom, G’Vine, Citadelle and Junipero. After typical apero choices, there are six house creations (including the Maurizzio, which is a mojito jazzed up with champagne and balsamic vinegar). Additionally there are classics and reinterpreted classics. The more vodka-heavy category is the one dedicated to “strong cocktails” (which includes a Vesper). The menu seems to rely more on fresh fruit, veg, herb and spice than some of my usual stops. Some drinks include whimsy such as a dish of pop rocks on the side. Others incorporate egg-white. Prices hover around 12 to 14 Euros.

Oliver, the marketing manger, is usually on the scene and a friendly, accommodating host-type. And, Timothé, with carte blanche to work the cocktails, is the one making the magic the bar. He’s enthusiastic and passionate about what he’s doing and is working on developing interesting drinks based on fresh ingredients. They’re turning out nice tipples here without just following trends. This low-key locale has already garnered a lot of loyal followers without bold signs and brash advertising.

After a rather lengthy cocktail discussion with myself and fellow cocktail enthusiast, Marco, Timothé offered to create a custom drink to my taste. He took a handful of fresh herbs, crushed them in the glass, dumped them and poured in Juniper. Marco and I both tasted, liked the intent behind it and the choice of Juniper but didn’t declare it a complete success.

Serving someone basically a glass of warm gin is a ballsy move. While not a total failure, it could have been better. And, that’s exactly the kind of move that will take Timothe’s cocktails beyond exceptionally good to exceptionally great. His willingness to take educated risks (in this case based on my tastes & ingredients), listen to criticism and move beyond a comfort zone will allow him to find that point of full potential that you can only reach just before failure – and you can’t get there without a few near-misses.

p.s. Dear Doubters: don’t worry about getting the same cocktail I did. I’m probably the only person in Paris who can rock into a bar and end up with a glass of gin. Trust me. Just go and you will like it.

Wednesday Cocktail Adventures: E7

Hotel Edouard
39, av de l’Opéra
75002 PARIS
Tél: +33 (0)1 42 61 56 90
I’m behind in my blogging. And, I didn’t even know where to begin again until someone asked me for bandaid. Looking through my handbag in search of one, I noticed what a mess it was & decided to clean it out right then. I dumped its contents and surveyed the result. Those of you who know me well will, of course, think it was full lots of practical, useful things like hand sanitizer, chap stick, dental floss and little packets of tissues, right? (Ha. ha.) No. It was my phone, an (empty) wallet, breath mints and….a handful of business cards from bars, a few dozen cards from various wine & spirits industry folks, a couple of invitations to drink & cocktails thingies, an envelope stuffed with postcards featuring recipes for limited edition Beefeater Summer gin and a stack of napkins covered with notes about drinking. Yes, people, that boozey bag debris tells you WHY I’m behind. Sometimes my social life gets in the way of blogging about… my social life!
One of aforementioned cards belonged to Régis Célabe, head barman at the E7 bar in the Hotel Edouard which I visited a few weeks back. With well-respected Sandrine Houdré-Grégoire (formerly of Murano) at the helm as Beverage Manager, the E7 has been on my list of spots to try for awhile. I liked Régis. He seems an amiable guy who not only knows what he’s doing but enjoys being behind the bar. I wouldn’t want to let my positive personal feelings about someone color my review. Fortunately I need not worry about having to knock the friendly Mr Célabe or his smooth running bar in this somewhat quiet and stylishly modern hotel where cocktails ring in at around 18 Euros.
That evening’s bartender, Nicolas, stirred me a lovely Geranium/NP martini with a twist, which was served with barsnacks of nut and jellied candies. This may be the first Paris bar I’ve seen that stocks Geranium. Matt and Violaine arrived and ordered a first round of…something that unfortunately I can’t remember. And, see, dear readers, this is why you should get your blog posts done in a timely manner. For the second round Nicolas mixed up a few surprises. I got a simple but sexy looking ginger-infused vodka, St Germain, lemon juice & tonic garnished with sparkly gold flakes and a hefty ice stick. While we know it’s not usually my first choice in spirits, I’ll take your wrath on this one, vodka-haters, and fully own up to enjoying Nicolas’ twinkly cocktail. Violaine also got a vodka based concoction that involved lemongrass and ginger liqueur, bean & rose mousse and some form of green peas.
The place was rather empty save a few older anglophone tourists. Régis tells me that they have monthly ‘after works’ which would bump up the interest level for drinks at this price. Régis brought out a bottle of their Licit absinthe to offer a taste. On a side (but potentially interesting) note, he’ll be mixing up special cocktails with this Absinthe at the next Blablabla & Co’sCook Me Drink Me” I would definitely hit this event if I were in town – so if you’re interested in cool people and fun drinks, check them out.
In short the E7 is putting admirable thought into their drinks and making sure the bar is stocked with some interesting product. And, apologies again for my lag time and lack of detail. But you can blame some of it on the following friends and folks who kept me busy over the last few weeks: Cocktails Spirits, Paris by Mouth, La Cuisine de Paris & GVine. I can enthusiastically plug all of them without feeling like a sellout because if you like yummy consumables and don’t already know who they are, you are missing out!