12/14, Rue de la Ferronnerie
Between NYE travels and my recent Seattle/San Francisco trip, I’ve had a slow start to my 2010 blogging. But, I’m back and looking forward to finding some excellent cocktails this year as well as tackling some more productive and worthwhile resolutions (but that serious stuff is for a different blog.)
Upon my return from Cuba, things kicked back into high gear right away with one of my monthly cocktail meetups the following night. I don’t blog on my meetups because I don’t usually take members to untested cocktail spots. But this months’ choice was an exception so I am exceptionally blogging about it. In a bit of a rush to post a location for January’s meetup before I left for holiday, I did a bit of internet searching and found Baboto. It looked kind of swank & the prices and size seemed right, so I blindly chose it for the meetup.
This restaurant/lounge/tea house/cocktail bar combo self-confidently hangs on the outer fringe of a hectic little zone south of the Pompidou that’s already bursting with bars. The whole thing seems smaller and a bit less swank in real life. The glowing bar is lined with stools as is the mirrored wall facing it. Beyond the bar is a restaurant of a certain trendy genre (i.e. the kind I don’t fully trust on a food level) and a veranda. The young, amiable Luis greeted me from behind the bar over loud pop music. He was unaware of my previously made reservations for 20 to 30 people, but he had no problem with it.
The happy hour (18:00 to 21:00) menu features several basics (mojitos, cosmos, etc) at 5 Euros. Their non-happy hour menu is a little more interesting. I also noted that they sell booze by the bottle, with a Gordons(!) ringing in at a steep 95 Euros. And, I’m usually a bit iffy about a bar that sells anything but wine by the bottle. I asked if they could do a standard gin martini with dry vermouth and got an enthusiastic yes. What followed was a shaken, half sweet vermouth and half Bombay Sapphire combo topped with a star fruit and wielding the hefty black, plastic straw.
I tried a few other drinks off the standard cocktail menu including the MO5 (7 year Havana Club rum, champagne, angostura bitters, amaretto & fresh strawberries) which was the least sweet and most refreshing of the lot. Since there was a large group of us, I got to see and sample a wider range of drinks. Most were okay, but some were overly cutesy or too blue for my taste. In general the group seemed content with their drinks – especially those off the happy hour menu as opposed to the 10 Euros regular menu cocktails.
A few of us ordered the 5 Euros tapas platters for something a bit more substantial to nibble on than just their nicely roasted peanuts that came with our drinks. Square black slate plates arrived topped with a variety goodies such as deep fried calamari, shrimp, and toasts with a sort of tapanade. Although initially I hadn’t held high hopes for the food, I was pleasantly surprised and think it might have been the best deal of the evening.
In general, the place is trying: The ice situation is good (lots of it, decent crusher). The non-happy hour menu has some interesting choices. But, they just aren’t in the same league as my preferred cocktail stops.
When I actually started this post, it was January and I was hitting a lot of the sales, so I was thinking of things in shopping terms: If high-end bars like the George V are the expensive designer shops along the Champs and craft cocktail bars like the Experimental are the more edgy, hip and interesting boutiques, then Baboto is H&M when they pull in a designer collection. It’s shiny but still a bit cheap.