82 rue de Charenton
The word of the day for the non-French speaking readers is Caleçon, which means “boxers”. And not long ago, two young frenchies combined the concept of “calecon” with “bar” to create the Calbar; where the boys behind the bar sport boxers shorts. I first stopped in several months back to have some fun for a Monkey Hour. I later stopped in on a typical evening to see if there is something more to this nightspot than just nice legs.
I arrived just at opening while owners, Christophe and Thierry, were mid-interview with a local film crew, but they still made sure to break for a meet and greet. The first dozen drinks listed are the “Calbar Drinks” at 11 Euros a pop. Following that is an extensive selection of cocktails categorized by spirit at 9 Euros. It sounds like having worked with their first menu for some time now, they may have future plans to revamp with more intuitive price/cocktail categories.
Having already sampled a good martini on my prior visit, I went for le Julep (Nikka from the barrel, fresh mint, brown sugar & angostura). While I prefer mine served in a julep cup (this was a glass), they, otherwise, ticked all the boxes for me with great ingredients and perfect prep. I followed up with a “Surprise Me,” for which the boys create a cocktail based on your tastes. I give them a thumbs up for making something that included bolder flavors like Antiqua, Absinthe and Campari rather than falling back on something easy like booze+fruit juice.
The décor nice and casual with a small, industrial chic entry way and a nicely done back section with cozy sofas and quirky curios on the walls. They’re serving up some tasty little snacks like club sandwiches or meat and cheese platters. The spirit selection is small but solid with some good gin choices (Beefeater, Tanqueray, Tanqueray 10, Monkey 47, Number 3, Bombay Sapphire and Hendrick’s) And, the boys behind the bar have luxury hotel experience so they know a thing or two about customer service.
Basically, it’s one of the many new laid back bars that are making good drinks while dropping the exclusive-feel that seems to sneak into the cocktail lounge scene. It’s a sweet little spot for neighborhood locals that also has enough going on to cater to those with more adventurous cocktail palates. In short, the friendly duo behind this bar are highly focused on keeping their customers happy. But, I am curious as to what will happen if they ever hire any lady bartenders!