Nautical Cocktail Adventures: Copper Bay

copper bay cocktail bar parisCopper Bay
5 Rue Bouchardon
75010 Paris

copper bay cocktail bar parisI asked someone recently at a spirits event about their favorite cocktails. They told me they liked the ‘classics’, like ‘Long Island Iced-Teas.’ Say something like this to the wrong bartender and it will incite at the very least a snigger or quite possibly stern lecture. But, for me, it just gave me pause to think.

The current climate of craft cocktails and mixology is a hot trend. I spend a lot of time in this world, which is interesting, engaging and fun. At times, it’s also a world in which bartenders steer clients to new more sophisticated drinks, mixologists flat out refuse to make mojitos and cocktails like the Long Island are “laid to rest.” There can be some strong opinions on how the thirsty masses should consume their booze (and I’m not completely innocent in this regard.) Considering all of this enthusiasm for the craft cocktail movement, it’s often easy to forget that it’s still somewhat of a niche. The majority of the drinking public will not roll up to your bar and order a Corpse Reviver 2 or debate the merits of rye versus cognac in their Sazerac. And it’s for that reason that some of the latest bars are offering something a little easier to swallow alongside their more advanced options. The most current example: Copper Bay.

copper bay cocktails parisCopper Bay first hit the scene last September with a soft opening. Given the reputations of the trio involved (Elfi, Aurélie and Julien), a fair number of people slipped in to check things out. Everyone appreciated the fresh take on décor with its nautical theme and bright brass touches. After a short closure they opened back up in December with their full menu of drinks and food.

So, I stopped back in during Paris Cocktails Week to see how things were shaking out and chatted with them about their cocktail approach. Their menu of 12 cocktails at 10 Euros each is designed to be approachable with 3 sours, 3 collins and some custom cocktails that lean a little more to the sweet side than many of my cocktail contemporaries or I would normally go for. Sweet, but very well made. This makes the drinks not only more accessible to cocktail newbies but I believe it will be a mini-trend: less eschewing of the sugar in a search of even better balance. And they do find balance. In fact, they seem to really shine when it comes to sours, achieving the right equilibrium between tart and sweet. Case in point: their Lizzy Sour created for PCW.

IMG_6748However, don’t think the team just turns out a selection of sips designed for the un-initiated cocktail drinker. They are also doing interesting things on the more savory side with one of the better bloody’s I’ve had in awhile (tequila based) as well as The Beast (a drink made with bourbon that’s been fat-washed with bacon grease from the nearby smokehouse of the same name.) On my last visit I was particularly interested in the rye based De La Bretagne, which is made to be served at room temperature. While that goes counter to most cocktail thinking, it’s a possibility worth exploring, and they are starting those explorations of nicely.

And finally, I feel comfortable putting myself in their hands when it comes to classics. Not of the Long Island variety, but of the Dry Martini variety which they most certainly know how to handle.

copper bay cocktail barFor the food menu, they’re focusing on local vendors and turning out a menu of munchies comprising rustic breads, cheeses, meats or My Crazy Pop popcorn with flavors like Roquefort & nuts or wasabi & sesame.

Overall, their cocktail philosophy allows cocktail newbies to easily make their way into the mixed drink world as well as affords opportunities for those with a more experienced palette to play. Maybe they’ll even introduce some of the latest generation of cocktail curious to a new idea of ‘classic.’ So, regardless of your cocktail style, stop in to visit this friendly bunch.

Paris Cocktail Week Adventures

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Hey people! It’s Paris Cocktail Week. It kicked off yesterday so I went out and got it all warmed up for you.

In addition to specials in 35 bars across the city, PCW’s programme includes other goodies like special tastings, master classes, food fun and even a couple of PopUps in The Chamber.

IMG_8976I started Saturday at the swanky Bristol for an inspired martini and Boutary Caviar presentation and pairing. Maxime and Charles guided us through history with a tasting that took us from modern day martinis and caviar to the 19th century. We learned about the parallels between the two including ebbs and flows in popularity, murky origins of their names, flavor profiles and rituals. While this was a one-day only event, you can still stop into the Bristol bar for their PCW special, the X-mas Carol.

IMG_8978Next stop: Copper Bay to test out their PCW special, the Lizzy Sour and catch up with the trio behind the bar (Elfi, Aurélie and Julien). I’ll be blogging up a proper post on this place shortly, so watch this space for more detail. Incidentally, Copper Bay’s menu includes The Beast, which is a fat-washed Bourbon made with grease from the newly opened BBQ joint of the same name. And it also my next stop…

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I popped in to chat with the always-adorable owner, Thomas, taste test some George T. Stagg bourbon and fill my belly with a bit of beef. The Beast’s PCW special is running on Wednesday only when Julien of Copper Bay will be onsite making The Beast cocktail. My guess is this one will draw some crowds so get there early!

A short metro ride and I was at another new spot on the scene, A la Francaise, where I tested out their PCW special Eau Fraiche at the small, busy upstairs restaurant bar and then headed below to catch up with Stephan, the man behind this concept bar that focuses on French cocktails.

IMG_6784And this is about the time I caught up with Mr Boley, the man behind the Red House, and managed to stay out just a bit longer for some late night fun. We made a stop into the packed Lone Palm and then finished the night with a visit to Café Moderne for a chat with Mido. I’d say any of these places are a good stop to celebrate PCW.

 

And with that PCW is off to a good IMG_8990start! It’s free to sign up for it – so check out their programme and have some fun. Or come see us over in The Chamber where we are running to special PopUps in a posh private residence as part of PCW. Monday we’ll host a modern day Absinthe Den with Pernod and Tuesday we are terribly excited to have Joseph of Mabel in the house making us some Zacapa cocktails for our rum PopUp.

So, what are you going to do with your Paris Cocktail Week?

Lulu White: Big Easy Cocktail Adventures in Paris

Lulu White Cocktail Bar Paris
Lulu White
12 rue Frochot
75009 Paris

So, remember back in 2012 when I was writing about Pigalle’s increasing cool factor and its proliferation of better bars? Back then, I was living in the area, watching the progress and reporting as it went from cocktail dead zone to cocktail destination. Well, now it’s pretty much gone full-blown and mainstream with an impressive selection of serious cocktail stops.  And, the newest addition to the area is no exception. 

lulu white cocktail barWith a Parisian Belle Époque meets New Orleans’ Storyville vibe and named for one of NOLA’s notorious madams, Lulu White couldn’t have picked a better location than this neighborhood full of working girl bars and girlie-cum-cocktail bars.  Pass through the discrete entrance located just next door to Dirty Dick and escape into an elegant, art nouveaux world with a carrousel style bar reminiscent of New Orleans’ Hotel Montleone (a place near and dear to the cocktail lover’s heart).  Considering that the duo behind this drinking spot, Dotan Shalev et Timothée Prangé, made a name for themselves with the nicely designed Little Red Door, it’s no surprise that we like what we see here.

Le Carmen Miranda Cocktail Lulu White ParisBut, let’s move past her pretty face and check out the personality. In a nod to the Bohemian culture of Paris in the 20’s, the menu includes an absinthe flight, 7 absinthe-infused drinks at 11-12 Euros, one cocktail priced at 15 Euros, bottled beers, wine and Champagne.  Putting absinthe in every mixed drink on the menu is a ballsy move.  And one I raise my glass to.  The menu has been crafted so that the absinthe improves each cocktail without taking over. Even if you think you won’t get along with the Green Fairy, I encourage you to work through a few of their choices, which will at least challenge if not change that notion. And I hear that head barman, Matthew, is becoming a bit of an absinthe expert…

Frozen cocktail lulu white ParisOn my visit, the lovely Kelly started me off with Le Carmen Miranda: Four Roses Bourbon, Strawberry Cordial, and Pernod Absinthe, served slushy style in a coupe.  What?! Cordial + bourbon – that can be kind of too sweet, non? That’s what I thought and under other circumstances I may have shied away from it, but thankfully I let myself be led in this direction. Le Carmen Miranda is refreshing and well balanced. The Bourbon brings strength, and the cordial made with dried strawberries and tartaric acid (among other things) adds just the right one-two punch of sweet and sour to balance it out and leave you smacking your lips and salivating for the next sip.  Finally, a touch of absinthe adds some depth. (And for those of you who keep asking why it takes so long to make a cocktail…this is the one for you…no wait time!)  While not my usual go-to style, I really enjoyed starting the evening with one.  I moved onto something more in line with my personal tastes with the Beefeater based Lea d’Asco, which was equally good (but less surprising given my imbibing inclinations) So, there’s something to be said for stepping out of your comfort zone.

lulu white cocktail bar parisIt’s not just the interesting drinks, excellent service and appropriate place, that make Lulu White a worthwhile stop.  It’s surrounded by plenty of great cocktail choices.  And, word on the street is that soon we’ll also be seeing more cool new neighbors like the latest from the L’Entrée des Artistes team and the new hotel from the ECC boys.

So, although I no longer live in Pigalle, I still make regular visits to keep up with all the fun.  And, I’ll confess, I’m secretly hoping that now that I’ve moved to the 15th, I will be the catalyst for a new cocktail explosion to happen there.  Don’t laugh.  It could happen…

Mabel: Rum Cocktail Adventures in Paris

IMG_5508Mabel
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.

Paris Cocktails & Food Pairings: Pasdeloup

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Pasdeloup
108, rue Amelot
75011 Paris

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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!]

Parisian Coffee and Cocktail Adventures: Lockwood

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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.

 

More SoPi Cocktail Adventures: Artisan

IMG_8411 Artisan
14, rue Bochart de Saron
75009 Paris

IMG_7911Brought to you by the Maison Mere team, Artisan is the latest addition to the growing list of interesting places around Pigalle. However, unlike Maison Mere, which swings from sad quasi-quesadillas to surprisingly good mini-burgers, Artisan is consistently very good. I can comfortably attest to this after several successful visits.

Artisan’s understated décor is charming and relaxed. Dim industrial lighting and flickering votive candles reflecting in distressed mirrors shine through the large bay windows giving off a warm glow that beckons passersby. The rest of the street feels a little dreary in comparison to the simple yet inviting ambience.

IMG_8750Once inside, patrons pull up a stool at the U shaped bar or grab a table to enjoy something from the short, but solid selection of cocktails under the direction of Frédéric Le Bordays. The last time we saw Fred here on the blog, he was doing cocktail classes at la Cuisine. But it’s always a pleasure to see him either here or in real life, so I’m happy that he’s currently involved in this enterprise. Running his own cocktail consulting business and having just published his first cocktail book, he brings a good level of experience to the table.

IMG_7928There’s a quiet confidence to both his comportment and his cocktails. While Artisan has incorporated some successful trends like small plates, large format drinks (their punch serves four) or bottled cocktails, nothing feels gimmicky or risky. It’s quite simply a well-put together cocktail program that is as nicely balances as Fred’s drinks.

The cocktail menu is expected to change every two weeks. While I feel like that’s rather ambitious and not really necessary, it doesn’t detract from the bar’s appeal either. But due to ever-changing choice, I won’t focus so much on specific drinks I’ve tried (of which there have been several) but more the overall impression. The 8 cocktails remain in the typical price range of 11 to 13 Euros. The menu covers a nice selection of spirits and incorporates high quality, fresh ingredients. Fred neither shies away from dark and bitter ingredients nor intentionally pushes demanding or precious options. Syrups made with such things as yellow beetroot or mulled wine work well in his recipes. In short: cocktails, as they should be.

IMG_7916For more choice, straying from the menu poses no problem. The staff working with Fred have skills and experience to handle these requests. On my first visit, I was happy to see Keltoum at the bar. Considering her training with the Experimental Cocktail Club group and her work that I’d seen while judging the Abuelo cocktail competition, I was comfortable starting off with my standard martini, which was well made.

And, if you want something beyond the (excellent!) olives served alongside the cocktails, IMG_7932move on to the tapas-like menu for a snack or meal. In the kitchen, Vanessa Krycève (who has previously worked with the likes of Pierre Herme, Guy Savoy and Laduree) makes magic happen on small plates with her takes on French classics like country terrines, mushroom veloute, or brandade. And bonus: the kitchen stays open late.

Given its positive reception and the reputations of those involved, Artisan pulls in the food and drinks folks along with a crowd of fashionable, bed-headed and bespectacled locals. There are no reservations so go early evening, mid-week, if you want to snag a seat and get more focused service.

In short: I’m a fan of Artisan.

Shellfish Cocktail Adventures: the Mary Celeste

mc 005Mary Celeste
1 rue Commines
75003 Paris

mc 004I’ve been talking a lot lately about Paris turning a new cocktail page and coming out ahead of trends rather than bowing to them. And once again, the group behind the Candelaria provides a very fine example of just that with their third venture, a restaurant and bar, which showcases their ability to come up with fresh fare.

While I love a low-light lounge or a dark divey bar, the open, airy and light space that is the Mary Celeste brightens the bar scene with something new. Large windows let in plenty of light to the main floor, which features a friendly island bar. A downstairs area, where the tiny kitchen is located, handles the runoff from the main floor.

mc 011Owners, Josh, Adam & Carina, have put together a topnotch international team, including notable barman Carlos Madriz (previously of l’Hotel) and Chef Haan Palcu-Chang (previously of Le Verre Volé as well as Europe’s only Michelin-starred Thai restaurant.)   Palcu-Chang’s creative small plates -including offerings like homemade Kimchee which demonstrate his passion for Asian cuisine – are available from 7pm onwards.  But, from 5pm to 7pm, it’s “Oyster Happy Hour” with fresh terroir-focused oysters at a buck a bivalve! The oysters, served alongside tasty, crisp flat bread and Palcu-Chang’s mignonette, which incorporates coriander and a bit of heat, were delicious enough to convince me to indulge in them two nights in a row. I’m digging both the oyster concept and the fact that they open earlier than most bars.  But, we’re here to talk cocktails…

mc 007My first experience was an opening night event, and the place was packed with friends and fans of the group enjoying free Brooklyn pours, beer cocktails and oysters at happy hour prices.  My Oliver’s Twist exemplifies Carlos’ innate talent for creating well balanced cocktails with the Brooklyn lager, Rabarbaro, lemon and Tabasco bringing a successful combination of sweet, bitter, sour and heat that stands up to the oysters and their accompanying mignonette.  As I sipped and slurped, the sounds of the Steve Miller band on vinyl filled the air thanks to the vintage Lenco turntable. Sweet!

I returned the following night for Oyster Happy Hour to see how some of their cocktails stacked up to the tasty sea creatures. Carlos mc 012suggested a Dear Apollonia (grappa, Manzanilla sherry & crème de peche) as something that would please a martini-loving palette. Not only does that describe my palette, but a martini can be an ideal pairing with oysters. I know that just the mention of grappa can make the un-initiated tremble. However, the quality of the spirit and the addition of the crème de peche make for a lighter more approachable drink that works for newbies as well as more experienced cocktail drinkers. Plus, considering the mignonette, it’s a better pairing with these oysters than a straightforward martini.

I progressed to a Nord Sud, which was eliciting praise from a fellow drinker and shows off a nice balance of apple brandy, sherry fino, homemade grenadine and citrus.  I finished with the Dottore Cipriano, made with herby vermouth, mescal and enough amero to make it interesting without overpowering. And the smokey touch of the mescal made it a perfect and somehow comforting finish to this trio.

mc 015While plenty of people will go for the Single Ladies (Absolut, muscadet syrup and lemon), the menu of 10 or so cocktails at 12 Euros proves a nice vehicle for introducing customers to less common ingredients like ameros, vermouths and sherries. Carlos explained that they are going for more aperitif-style cocktails that veer more towards something delicate than in-your-face. They also feature beers from Brooklyn Brewery and a selection of natural wines. And I hear that Simon will be heading over to cover on Carlos’ days off, which means the Mary Celeste packs serious talent behind the stick seven nights a week.

I suspect that the combination of the more lighthearted approach to the decor and drinks and the trust-inspiring integrity of this group when it comes to scrutinizing the quality of ingredients, means this venture will appeal to a wider audience without compromising the quality that hardcore foodies and cocktillians demand. The Mary Celeste is a breath of fresh air, well worth a detour and I look forward to many more Happy Hours at the bar.

70’s Glam Cocktail Adventures: le Coq

IMG_0257le Coq
12 Rue du Château-d’Eau
75010 Paris

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.

IMG_0066While 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.

IMG_0268While 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.

IMG_0253As 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.

IMG_0259With 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.

Little Red Door: Alternative Cocktail Adventures in Paris

Little Red Door
60 Rue Charlot
75003 Paris

It’s been a busy few months.  Between a few weeks of holiday and other fun stuff like openings, social events, cocktail competitions and interesting interviews the blog writing had to take backseat for a few weeks.  But, I’m back and ready to spill on some of the city’s new spots, like Little Red Door, where I met up with Kasia recently for some taste testing.

Just past the friendly doorman, you’ll find a whimsically miniature red door.  While most guests will slip into this seductive space via the normal sized door to the left, apparently a select few regulars will be given the keys to this mini-entrance. With discrete attitude, LRD sticks to the speakeasy style prevalent within Paris’ recent cocktail scene but amps it up with some stylish detail.  These days, it’s not unusual to see lovely glassware or bitters decanted in simple bottles on a bar top.  However, here the furniture has been handpicked and imported from London and the light fixtures specifically designed for the space. But the pieces de resistances are the plush velvet barstools, which are not so much stools as impossibly comfortable armchairs. Dim lighting, various levels and intimate groupings of chic chairs and sofas make it a sexy little space for small groups or a quiet couples night out.

With Romain, previously of the Experimental Cocktail Club, and Ben behind the bar, drinks are made with TLC.  On my first visit, the menu was not yet finalized, so I started with a nicely prepared No. 3 martini. However, the other orders better exemplify the team’s skill at gently encouraging patrons to try something just a little different. Since Kasia had been considering a dark and stormy, Ben suggested an alternative with smoky whisky and ginger beer. Her hubby ordered up a cacacha based sangree, which he’d been turned onto as an alternative to a caipi on a prior night.  Like their drinks, their spirits selection veers away from the mainstream and they pride themselves on ‘high-quality and specialized’ spirits.

I returned later for the opening night party and launch of first menu. At the time the choice included five drinks based on a range of high-end spirits and quality ingredients with enough variety to appeal to a range of tastes. The cocktail menu will change on a regular basis with a continued focus on creating unique cocktails.  The team will also be working with an aromaticien in developing interesting profiles for their creations.

For non-cocktail drinkers, LRD’s wine places a special focus on Languedocs and their selection of artisanal beer comes from Cave a Bulles. They have plans to bring in food, which will be a nice addition.  With barstools as comfortable as these, customers will need something to accompany a full evening’s worth of cocktails.

Overall, it’s a nice space, with well-made drinks going for standard Paris cocktail prices, of 12 to 13 Euros.  While I like the fact that some of the city’s latest bars are dropping cocktail prices slightly, LRD is doing enough to justify these prices. And bonus: with some of my other cocktails favs like Candelaria, le Coq, l’Entrée des Artistes and Grazie within reasonable walking distance, this little corner of the city is shaping up as a great place for acocktail crawl.

 

Update: Romain is no longer behind the bar here, but now you’ll find the friendly and talented Remy