12 Rue du Château-d’Eau
The brains behind le Coq have more than enough cocktail cred to make a bar work on their names alone. Local industry experts, Thierry Daniel and Eric Fossard have teamed up with cocktail maestro Tony Conigliaro of 69 Colebrooke Row. They’ve brought along Marcis Dzelzainis from London to oversee the show. And pros like these are more used to defining trends than chasing them, so it’s no surprise that the bar steers clear of the status quo.
While so many bars make nods to prohibition and its speakeasies, le Coq looks towards a different decade for inspiration: the 70’s. And, its location on a 10eme arrondisement backstreet, rock chic deco and stark black walls give bit of illicit edge.
My initial encounter with le Coq was an opening night party. The place was packed with industry names itching to get a glimpse of this highly anticipated venture… plus one actual live coq. Conversations and cocktails flowed and enthusiasm was high. I then followed up a few nights later to get a better feel for the full offering.
While classics can be made on command, the regular menu features a dozen drinks that riff of classics as well as show off Tony’s cocktail savvy. Some ingredients are created off site in his London based lab but a fair few focus on French additions from the common (cognac) to the forgotten (liqueur d’ambrette.) In talking to the team members, I hear a real enthusiasm for the local cocktail culture and its possibilities. Rather than recreating Tony’s popular London bars here, they’re working in conjunction with local trends, tastes and products to come up with something uniquely Parisian. And while they could command higher prices given their rep, they keep it at a cool 11 Euros per drink.
As for Tony’s famous Dry Martini made with Beefeater gin, Martini Dry and a distillation of tannins and polyphenols for a drier mouth feel, I can attest that the quality here is just as good as the ones I’ve sampled at his London location. The house French 75 incorporates grapefruit infused gin and a dash of absinthe that play nicely in this classic. Other inviting options include the nicely balanced Fig Leaf Collins with its gin, lemon juice and fig leaf syrup. And while my current crazy schedule means I haven’t worked my way through the entire menu yet, I’m planning on making more headway this weekend.
Beyond the bar, the group is also introducing more interesting events like Tony’s recent cocktail and food pairing with dining darling, le Dauphin. The menu included the same cocktail served in two different glasses to highlight the changes their shape make to the nuances of flavor…because those are the kinds of discoveries Tony likes to share.
With its brash attitude, cool rock soundtrack and unique style, Le Coq is not your typical cocktail lounge. Some of the city’s speakeasy-style habitués may be surprised by this abrupt about face on the bar scene, but I take it as a sign that Paris has reached a point where its unafraid to assert some personality. Le Coq shows us that the big boys have come out to play in Paris. And they seem to be setting out not just to make their own mark on the capital’s cocktail scene but to make a French mark on cocktail culture.