More Taco & Cocktail Adventures in Paris: Death by Burrito

Death by Burrito Cocktail Bar Paris

Death by Burrito
4 Rue de la Fontaine au Roi
75011 Paris

IMG_6634Last month brought out the lists of cocktail trends for 2014 and predictions for 2015. One of the things we’ve seen a bit of in Paris – which I think will become more prevalent – is bars focusing on a single spirit. A few years back Sherry Butt opened with a leaning towards whisky. And more recently there’s Mabel, the self proclaimed Cocktail Den and Rum Empire, as well as Lulu White with a list of cocktails, each with a touch of Absinthe. And we also have the subject of today’s post: Death by Burrito

After a string of successful London PopUps and residencies, chef Shay Ola brought his popular Death by Burrito concept to Paris late last year to set up a more permanent space in the 11eme arrondissement (also known as “DBB Paris”). DBB Paris is the city’s latest taqueria/cocktail combo and is getting plenty of press for both its food and drinks. I like tacos. I like cocktails. I like London. So it seemed like a no-brainer choice when I was looking for a spot to take a group of 5 or so for some fun and food last month.

DBB Paris tacosNow, with a name like Death by Burrito, you might think you’ll be getting burritos that are so effin’ big that you’ll choke under their weight. But what you’ll actually find on the menu are 5 pairs of small tacos and 5 small sharing plates like guacamole or trout gravlax with mezcal. Although I do have to admire the server’s attempt to explain the concept as “small, open face burritos” Uh…in other words…tacos? You know what else makes me think they are tacos? They’re called “tacos” on the menu. Contrary to how it might sound, I’m not here to talk smack about the food. Whatever they’re calling it, it’s good. They go beyond the basics without going bonkers and offer up solid fusions like braised pork and kimchi or beef tartare tacos. Ingredients are fresh, tortillas are made onsite, and they don’t shy away from putting a little spice into the mix. [Update: since posting this DBB Paris assures us that burritos are coming soon, so we’ll be back for those.] Now that we have that out of the way, lets dish on the drinks…

IMG_6635DBB Paris made a smart move heading up their bar team with Candelaria veteran, Candice Knyf. Given her prior experience, she’s got a grip on both tequila and mezcal and oversees a menu of 9 cocktails at around 12 Euros, each of which incorporate one of these two spirits. The Slushed and Rosie (mezcal, dolin dry, dolin rouge, aperol & st germain) is refreshing and light, but I’m not sure I could see all of the ingredients at play here. The spicy bitters floating on top of the Mister Maestro (tequila, yellow chartreuse & grapefruit compote) take it from standard to something interesting. And, while I like something that packs more of a punch than the Yo Da Horatcha (tequila, horatcha, agave syrup and Angostura bitters) I think it’s a great addition to the menu.

Death by Burrito cocktail parisAnd, this brings me to a subject I’ve been meaning to touch on. Just because something is not to my particular taste, doesn’t mean it isn’t well done. And, this isn’t some namby-pamby way on my part to get out of calling out the crap and just being too nice. It’s recognition of the general improvement in drink making in Paris. As good practices in making mixed drinks (i.e. fresh ingredients, proper ice, considered choices, striving for balance, etc.) become more widespread, they’ll be applied to a wider range in styles of cocktails. No longer are the conscientious bar staff confined only to speakeasies and cranking out historical classics. That means I may not always rave over a drink or employ the hyperbole that’s I think creeps much too often in the food/drink world – especially in blogs.

Now, let me get back to the topic. If you’d rather sip something straight, you’ll find a good selection of tequilas and mezcals or beer by the bottle. You won’t find wine, other spirits or frozen margaritas. Although a few at our table really wanted margaritas and the staff were very accommodating and made some good ones on the rocks.

Death by burrito paris bar

Sigh… I feel like both covering a lot of ground and no ground with this post. What I’m trying to say is that DBB Paris isn’t a hole in the wall taco joint cranking out street food with cheap beers and margaritas on tap – and sometimes that’s all I really want. Instead, it’s a noisy, busy, lively new spot that’s serves a more refined and trendy version of tacos and tequila in atmosphere that reflects its “Eat. Drink. Dance” philosophy. And that’s not good or bad. Just different. And it’s fun. And sometimes that’s all I really want as well.





Paris Cocktails & Food Pairings: Pasdeloup


108, rue Amelot
75011 Paris


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!]

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.

Raising the Bastille Bar Paris Cocktail Adventures: Cafe Moderne

IMG_7815Café Moderne
19 Rue Keller
75011 Paris

The streets around Bastille are bursting with bars serving cheap drinks that pull in a young, lively crowd.  And while there is no shortage of options, there aren’t many that manage to stand out from the crowd. However, I stopped in at the Café Moderne with Caroline recently, and found they’re well on their way.

IMG_7820While the majority of this bright and busy establishment is taken up by diners, thirsty clients can pull up a stool at the long wooden bar. Red walls add some warmth and the black and white tiles bring some class to the front room, which feels a bit more art deco in style.  In the back area, light walls, exposed brick, and quirky signage lend a NYC vibe.

Behind the bar, Mido offers up a chalkboard listing of 9 house creations at 10 Euros that lend an air of ‘mixology’ to the mix without overwhelming. I started with a Beefeater 24 martini, which was not on the menu but nicely done.  Caroline went for the Caribean Shephard (spiced rum, lemon, brown sugar and amaretto foam).  While it was a little sweet for my taste, it’s a prime example of IMG_7826what makes Café Moderne stand out from the neighbors: it’s introducing different drinking possibilities that are a step above the usual without throwing the Bastille bar crowd totally off base. And considering this client base, he’s handling a range of base spirits and ingredients judiciously. I also had a Panchovilla, which is topped with a special selection of seasonings and follows the trend of a tequila based tipple that packs some heat. Caroline finished with the Monkey Julep (as the name would imply, a julep made with Monkey Shoulder)

IMG_7837While the drinks menu might be more accessible than what you’ll find in other dedicated cocktail bars, Mido has the skills to create a classic or go in a different direction for those who want something beyond the basic offerings. And, he seems to have made an impact on the neighboring establishments.  While we were there, another bartender came in, cocktail in hand, which he passed to Mido for a taste test and, apparently, some advice.  After a brief discussion and a suggestion to amp up the citrus, he left, presumably to continue working on his own cocktail creations at whichever bar he came from.

As I come to know more and more of the city’s bar staff through industry events and generally getting about town, I must admit that it becomes increasingly difficult to judge service from the perspective of an unknown customer.  Mido has always struck me as a friendly, curious and enthusiastic barman; qualities that should serve him well in his profession. And, because of my profession, I hear a lot of complaints from consumers about various places. In fact, I’ve been hearing quite a few complaints recently about a relatively new spot, which I will resist calling out for the moment in hopes that it’s just learning how to deal with quick popularity.  But, that is why I’m specifically happy to report that Mido is one barman about whom I’ve heard some rather nice things from other visitors to the bar. So I’ll assume he treats all of his customers equally well.

IMG_7839We also tried a quartet of their mini cupcakes. While, I’m not much of a sweet tooth, the frosting was pretty fab.  On the food side, the restaurant does burgers and meatballs.  For the meatballs you can choose from four different types made in house that you then mix and match with four different sauces.  I didn’t try them, so I can’t comment on the taste yet, but sounds kinda fun, no?  Considering the crowd that clamored in during my visit, I’d guess I’m not the only one who thinks it seems like a bit of fun.

Overall, Café Moderne is a great gateway bar for Bastille: A place turning out better drinks but staying with the relatively low prices to which neighborhood habitués have become accustomed. And, tonight they celebrate their one year anniversary, so I’d say it’s a formula that’s working for them. so, Happy Anniversary, Café Moderne.

Prohibition Cocktail Adventures: Moonshiner

IMG_5460 2Moonshiner
5 rue Sedaine

When it comes to cocktails, I get around. Pre-batched, on tap, carbonated, bottled, aged, shrubs, smoked, frozen, jellified, high octane, low octane, molecular, bitters, gin, whisky, mescal, pisco, house-made syrups, and infusions. I’m familiar. Same goes for hidden entrances and speakeasy styles.  So, sometimes I must remind myself that just because something’s not new to me, doesn’t mean it’s not new to a larger drinking population or that it’s not good.  Case in point: Moonshiner, our latest prohibition themed bar with a hidden entrance.

IMG_5459Over the past few years, each of this group’s new openings has a unique personality. The UFO is a good, gritty,  local; the Kremlin rocks ruskie fun; Rock’n’Roll circus is a hipster hideout for good music and cheap bears; and Dirty Dick does tiki time. Given their propensity to go for different styles, I was surprised to find that their latest bar was employing a somewhat shopworn theme.  Pleasantly surprised once I checked it out.

The girls and I met at a lively pizza joint last month and, after finding the hidden entrance within, made our way back to the city’s most recent modern day speakeasy.  The décor is very nicely done and what you would expect given the theme: dim lighting, lounge like vibe, chesterfields, vintage turntable, era appropriate wall paper and lovely metal ceiling tiles.  Also of note: Smokers will appreciate the fumoir (inside of which there seems to be a safe and the lucky client to guess the combination wins a prize)

IMG_5437The menu features just under 20 options with a mix of creations and classics ranging from 6 to 14 Euros. Creations include some fun with a few twists on standards like the  Smoky Island, with its ice tea inspired mix of Havana 3 year, Vodka, Beefeater Gin, Mescal, Luxardo  house made smoked tea syrup and honey with a coke topper. The page of classics sticks with brown and bitter choices like old fashioned, blood and sand, manhattan.

IMG_5440I had a well made martini which was not on the menu, so the crew here can handle their cocktails. Their kicky little bottled vieux carre comes in a flask, hidden within in a book. You can pour it over ice in the accompanying glass or sip it straight from the flask if you fancy. Between us, we tried a fair few off the menu and enjoyed them all.  On a return visit, I tried the Safron Julep, which was not bad, but a bit heavy on the saffron and sweet for my taste so that it felt a little cloying (surprising considering the addition of over proof rum that I would have thought would cut through that pretty strongly).The Blood & Sand was well balanced and made with Laphroaig, which – while not my favorite choice for this classic – added an interesting element. I might call this version ‘Blood & Smoke.’ That said, overall the menu has a good range of choice and the staff are working their skills.

While I didn’t notice an exceptionally large selection of gins behind the bar, I imagine prohibition era drinkers didn’t have much of a selection either. So, I’m cool with that as it seems to go along with the theme. And while the bar does a good enough job to stand on its own without the prohibition prop, the theme is what really sets them apart from Paris’ growing selection of superior bars.  Moonshiner is currently the best bet in town for celebrating the era of the Noble Experiment. While some bars incorporate aspects of the speakeasy trend, the Moonshiner is the only place in town that is maximizing them all at once with its truly hidden entrance, Gatzby-like decor and drinks secreted away in old books. So, while this trend may not be new, this group is attacking it with vigor and working it successfully.

Corner Cafe Cocktail Adventures: the Pigs

The Pigs
156 avenue Ledru Rollin
75011 Paris

I like the cocktail crowd. I find many bartenders, while enamored with and respectful of their craft, to be an approachable, friendly lot who enthusiastically engage with the less knowledgeable but curious. However, the learning curve for cocktails can be steep and people or establishments can go from friendly amateur to intimidating snob in short order – and some of Paris’ bar crawlers have been complaining of exactly that. Thus the new wave of bars espousing more all-encompassing door policies and easy-going attitudes.  Enter, The Pigs, which has taken cocktail democratization to a whole new level.

On first glance, The Pigs, seems to be a standard café, with a varied customer base filling the box-standard terrace tables while smoking ciggies and sipping demi beers. But, step up to the bar and you’ll find something a little different from the traditional corner bar fare.

The menu includes the usual brews and wines plus a list of 8 or so house creations. There was no dry vermouth, so I ordered an MG Tequila sour from the friendly barman, David, which was nicely prepared with a cheeky sprinkling of Piment d’Espelette. As I was sipping my drink, I watched someone write up the new cocktail menu on a chalkboard, which comprised some rather unusual drinks for a typical Paris café at 7.50 to 9 Euros – including one cocktail with cuttlefish ink!

Turns out the person writing up the new menu was not only one of the owners but a barman I had met previously when he made his debut in Paris at the Silencio bar. After a stint at this ultra-trendy venue, Nadir decided to seriously democratize the Paris cocktail scene and branched out with a friend to open the Pigs. He created a menu, in a low-key, typically French locale, while still employing some sophisticated cocktail practices.  All syrups and sprinkles are made on site, higher quality mixers like Fever Tree are available and cocktails are straw-tasted. Perhaps that last item is not the be all end all, but I got a kick out of seeing that happen in such a popular place.  And, I also enjoyed the juxtaposition of these practices alongside the mixed crowd including twenty-something frenchies ordering half-pints of beer on tap.

In an effort to further bring cocktails to a more approachable level, he’s filled the speed rack with something beyond the bottom shelf without being excessive.  The house rum is Havana Club, tequila is Ocho, whiskey is Jamies, etc. Apparently, his aim is to create cocktails using accessible rather than special ingredients.  However, the back bar – available for customers who want to expand their cocktail knowledge after sampling the mid-range tipples – includes more surprising products like Nikka Whisky and Botanist gin.

Obviously in a place like this, I expected mojitos to the number one ordered drink.  So, of course, I asked if they were.  I was told that when costumers ordered a mojito they were directed back to the menu of house creations – so it’s not a place to order the classics. But according to Nadir, that’s not the aim here.  And, I witnessed this first hand when one of the demi-sipping regulars asked for a Pimm’s Cup (which I also found amusingly out of place in this venue) and Nadir steered him to something else on menu.

Also of interest, the Pigs offers up a lunch menu. But in the evenings they discontinue that for more bar-friendly French fare like rillettes or croustillante de camembert (which was the perfect belly filler for me on a night when I was checking out more than one venue). On the weekends they also do a nicely priced brunch. But, what will probably draw the majority of the locals is their very generous happy hour that includes pastis at 1 Euro!

Overall, I really enjoyed chatting with the folks behind the Pigs.  I like their MO, appreciate their efforts to spread the cocktail love and really dig seeing something more than a few dusty bottles of bottom shelf in a venue of this type. I won’t make this a regular because it’s a bit out of the way for me, but it’s a prime example of how the new scene is affecting Paris and it’s the first place that has really taken a certain level of cocktailing to the common bars.  And for that I say: respect.


Good Times Cocktail Adventures: Red House

Red House
1 bis rue de la forge royale
75011 Paris
01 43 67 06 43

A renewed dialogue on customer service in the cocktail industry has been happening over the past few years. The idea of placing more importance on the cocktail than the customer has resulted in a growing number of grumbling guests and some amusing viral videos. But, the conversation is happening on both sides of the bar, with the topic cropping up more in forums, drinks seminars and industry discussion focusing on giving the customer what they want.  As a result, some of Paris’ newly opened bars are building their business on claims of great drinks minus the attitude.  It seems, “speakeasy-fatigue” is leaving customers looking for a bit fun over fancy.

As a customer, I get that.  And, when I’m looking for a bit of fun over fancy, I head to the Red House. This latest addition to the Cheap Blonde group (Stolly’s, Bottle Shop and the Lizard Lounge) has been pulling in a nice and diverse crowd since opening about a year ago. At the helm, Joe puts a lot of personality into the place, with its longhorns overseeing the bar and a solid list of 17 or so classics and house creations.  In this House, you can order a shot, a beer or a rum and coke without judgment – but you can also order a martini which will be made competently.

Red House’s appeal is more large-scale than upscale.  And while they’re not necessarily courting the cocktail crowd, there is enough here to keep someone like me entertained.  The spirits selection is smaller than in most of the city’s best cocktail bars, but it goes beyond the bottom shelf basics that you’ll find in most of the city’s laid back watering holes.

The casual beer crowd will be happy to take something on tap, while the more demanding drinker will notice the bar shelf devoted to bitters, the selection of cocktail books, and solid spirit selection.  Gins include Beefeater, Tanqueray, Hendricks’s, Hayman’s and Bombay Sapphire.  Vermouth’s include Martinis, Noilly Prat, Dolin and Punt e Mes.  What makes Red House different from more cocktail-centric bars is that they have a little something for everyone as opposed to a lot of something for a few.

I’ve visited on more than one occasion and have had the chance to sample a lot of their selection including juleps, aviations, negronis, Joe’s barbecue-infused booze, the exceedingly popular Wild West Side (tequila, lime, cucumber and pepper) as well as the aforementioned shots, beers, and rum and cokes. On my most recent visit, I kicked things off with a stirred Tanqueray/Noilly Prat with a lemon twist.  Another big selling point: occasional themed nights such as New Orleans or tiki parties and a happy hour when prices drop to a very affordable 5 Euros.

I’ve taken friends in who have become repeat customers as a result not just of the good drinks at 8 Euros but because of the down-home, good times attitude that permeates the place.  When I ask industry folks about their favorite bars it’s often not the latest on the cocktail lists, but fun dive bars and laid-back neighborhood locals.  And, the last time we were there, a few celebrities were among the customers partaking in the casual party vibe. And that goes to show that while a sophisticated cocktail soirée can be sublime, everybody – from your average customer, to cocktail fanatics to the downright famous – loves a good time. And that’s what Red House does right.

Tiki Cocktail Adventures: Tiki Lounge

Le Tiki Lounge
26 bis rue de la Fontaine au Roi
75011 Paris

Since 1931 when Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt aka Don the Beachcomber set up the first tiny tiki joint in Hollywood, this kitschy culture has been injecting a bit of South Pacific fun into cocktails and given birth to some of world’s most notorious rum based drinks like the mai tai and the Zombie. Tiki style bars and drinks have experienced a resurgence over the past several years with hotspots like PKNY (New York) and – my favorite – Smugglers Cove (San Francisco) garnering international attention for their transcendent tiki drinks. This month Paris has finally taken to the trend with its first dedicated tiki bar: Tiki Lounge.

Tiki Lounge is kitted out with all the appropriate decor details: masks and carvings, creaky rattan furniture, and ceramic mugs. Blowfish lamps hang from the ceiling alongside glass floats. On the night of my visit, a few customers sat at the small thatched bar chatting with the friendly owners while south seas sounding music – with a bit of Tom Waits thrown into the mix – played in the background.

Thanks to the tiki theme, the menu diverges from the usual multiple vodka-based choices and features mainly rum. While they do offer a few things like caipis, mojitos and cosmos, the nine tiki options are front and center. All but two are rum-based, with the exceptions being a Waikiki Breeze with tequila and an Eastern Sour with whisky. Most of their classic tiki cocktails like the mai tai, missionary’s downfall and pina colada mainly adhere to simplified standard recipes. Drink prices are 8 Euros and drop to 5.5 Euros during the 18h – 20h30 happy hour.

I started with one of tiki’s most familiar and debated drinks: the mai tai (theirs contains two types of rum, orgeat and ‘citrus.’) While this isn’t the exact recipe I might use, I was pleasantly surprised. Based on experience I was preparing for an overly sweet alcohol masking mix. But, you could taste the rum through the light touch of orgeat and citrus and I enjoyed it (espeically at happy hour price). They also offer their own “Tiki Lounge Mai Tai” which includes pineapple juice and grenadine. I was less impressed with the tequila based Waikiki Breeze and I was really hoping one of my drinks would have come in a coconut shell or tiki mug. While we were sampling, the crowd was growing and an hour or so later, the place was busy with a hipstamatic young crowd who were probably grooving on the themed vibe as much as (or more than?) the drinks.

Thanks to the friendly atmosphere and novel (to Paris) ambience, I enjoyed my visit. However, I think there are some areas where they could amp things up the drinks front. I’d like to see their current offering of 5 rums bumped up. I think a more extensive offering of tiki drinks diverging from just the most popular ones could be interesting. And, just for fun, I’d like to see their bar munchies move from crisps, carrots and dip to something more theme-appropriate.

From a strictly drinks perspective, the Tiki Lounge can’t compete with some of the internationally known big boys of tikidom or even some of the bars in town like Prescription or Curio who occasionally feature a tiki option on menu and have the range of rums and necessary ingredients to pull them off with aplomb. But for nightcrawlers seeking the whole tiki experience – deco and all – this is currently the only place in town to get it. It may be just baby steps, but it is a valid start to the tiki trend in Paris.

l’Entree des Artistes: Vintage Cocktail Adventures in Paris

l’Entree des Artistes
8 rue de Crussol
75011 Paris



The Paris cocktail scene has
done a lot of growing up over the past 4 years. We’ve gone from a handful of successful forerunners to a nicely growing network of drinking options. Paris bar talent is expanding internationally with the ECC setting up shop in both the UK and the US. And we’re seeing international cocktail trends showing up in bars here locally – the latest of which is aged cocktails. The first mixology maostro to experiment with bottling a premixed cocktail and leaving it to age was Tony Conigliaro at 69 Colebrook Rowe in London. Jeffrey Morgenthaler followed up with more barrel aged cocktail trials in Portland, Oregon. And now, Paris l
ocals can weigh in on whether or not a few weeks of storage can improve the taste of their tipples at the newly opened l’Entree des Artistes.

The team behind this laid-back locale, hit the ground running with pre-opening anticipation on the part of Paris cocktillians. Fabien, having honed his skills at Prescription Cocktail Club, teams his bar skills with Edouard, who handles the wine side. The result: a relaxed, low key, pint-sized cocktail bar with a significant food and wine list as well.

I stopped in last week with a few friends to form my own opinions on the ‘vintage’ drinks. My friends were surprized when i led them to the place telling me it used to be a ‘divey’ bar where’d they’d hang out for cheep beers. It’s been renovated, but not so much that it’s lost the laid-back local frenchie feel. The casual space is enhanced with well chosen touches like the antique cash register and swank bar accoutrements. Also, on my visit, I ran into Thierry Daniel of Liquid Liquid/Cocktail Spirits doing his own sampling, which is a good sign that the drinks are worth trying.

I tried a negroni and a vieux carre, both of which had been aged in barrels for 6 weeks.

The aging brings a mellow and interesting melange of flavors that i think make them worth the 14 – 15 Euros price tag. However, patrons looking for something a little less invasive on the pocketbook, can play with their impressive menu of cocktails at 10 – 11 Euros each. And the standard cocktail menu offerings are no less interesting with options like the Mon Vieux Tabac (Peychaud’s bitters, Bob’s Bitters licorice, tabacco liqueur, Carpano Anica Formula, Cognan Grosperrin and Rittenhouse Rye 100). Clearly this is no mojito mecca. Given the care that’s going into these drinks, l’Entree des Artistes currently rates as one of Paris’ best values for money in cocktail options.

I see a bright future for these boys amongst the serious cocktail crowd as well as residents looking for a refreshing change of pace from the so many just so-so bars in the Oberkampf area. And, while I like to see local bars bringing in already established cocktail practices, I’m also looking forward to spending more time there to explore what they can bring to the cocktail trends themselves.

Random Cocktal Adventure: the Bottle Shop

The Bottle Shop

5, Rue Trousseau
75011 Paris
Tel: 01 43 14 28 04

I’m eating take-out Chinese for lunch right now. Take out Chinese is definitely not my favorite lunch, but occasionally it fits the bill: convenient, quick, cheap & filling. So while I wouldn’t recommend this place to my culinarily-demanding foodie friends as a must-stop destination, sometimes it’s exactly what I need at the moment. Which brings me to my blog (a bit of a reach, but I’m getting there…)

Some 52 Martinis readers have been sending mails asking why I don’t hold a higher opinion of their favorite bars. And, here’s the skinny: 52 martinis is about cocktail bars in Paris. Even if I don’t rate the cocktails highly doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t like the bar, the bar staff or the clientele. I try to keep it positive and note if there are other aspects of the bar that would draw in friendly folks. As a result, I’m sometimes hesitant to rate popular and long-standing drinkeries like the Bottle Shop because I’ll likely get a few more disappointed emails. So, let’s try some preventative spin here: While I wouldn’t send my cocktailian friends to the Bottle Shop for drinks, sometimes it, too, fits the bill.

A few weeks ago, I made my first visit to this lively little place. But, I’m very familiar with Stolly’s & the Lizard Lounge, which along with the Bottle Shop form the CheapBLONDE trinity – a veritable Paris ex-pat institution. I’ve had many fun nights at these two busy spots filled with Anglos and Anglo-friendly clientele. All three have cracking personalities and a fair number of drinks on offer. The staff is lively and friendly & I’m a big fan of the club sandwich at the Lizard Lounge for a chilled out Saturday afternoon bar-food lunch.

At the Bottle Shop, I ordered a martini from the cute and friendly barman, Joe. He mentioned that he liked his martinis with a few drops of bitters in them. I, too, like this. “Do you have bitters?” I asked. “This is a serious bar!” he replied. (Ah, Joe, you had me at ‘bitters’) So, I ordered Wendy and myself each a martini and had him throw in a couple drops of Angostura. The finished product was two very pink martinis as a result of a bit more bitters action than I would have used myself. But, in general, they were decent martinis, in cold glasses, served with a smile. Cocktails go for 7 to 8 Euros, with a 4.80 Euros happy hour running from 17h00 to 20h00.

These boys are good fun behind the bar. They chill up the glasses with a bit of ice and build some decent drinks. Overall, I consider places like the Bottle Shop to be part of my “Category I” of cocktail bars. These are bars where you will leave neither overly impressed nor depressed by the drinks. While the menu doesn’t feature anything truly inspired, I’m always pleasantly surprised to find mixed drinks that are above Parisian standards. I wouldn’t make a special trip to tipple here. But, on the other hand I wouldn’t be averse to stopping in for a drink with a good portion of fun on the side. In fact, the evening Wendy, Nicky & I were there, we stopped back in to cause some more mayhem after our dinner at a nearby restaurant.

So, just as Chinese take out’s not my favorite haut gastronomy experience, sometimes for other reasons, it hits the mark. So, it is with the Bottle Shop.