Friday Five: Savvy Drinkers’ Favorite Paris Bars

Occasionally on a Friday I turn 52martinis over to five other savvy drinkers for their opinions on the best cocktails in Paris. This week some of my favorite friends, fellow cocktaillians and foodies give up the goods.

Impeccably gracious Colin Field, the man behind the world-renowned Hemingway Bar of the Ritz, says “My favourite bar at the moment would be the bar of the Regina hotel with Christian and Jerome holding the Fort. The hotel is very old world which I love and the bar is positively 1900’s. The feeling is very cosy and the cocktails – not to mention the company – is and are fantastic.”

Fab foodie, world traveler, cocktail enthusiast, LUPEC Seattle founder and one of my very favorite drinking partners, Wendy Miller says: “Paris used to be quite a wasteland for cocktails but over the last few years it’s grown up nicely. And although I enjoy quite a few of the lounges in the city, I really love Prescription Cocktail Club. Whether ordering a gin gin mule or a classic martini, the drinks are well made, the atmosphere is comfy, they use nice glassware & the prices are great! Can’t wait to sit at the bar there again soon.”

Half of the stellar Liquid Liquid team, which organizes Cocktails Spirit, and simply one of the one of the most in-the-know (and nicest!) people in Paris when it comes to cocktails, Thierry Daniel says: (NOTE to readers: translation coming shortly on this, but I’m rushing out the door and didn’t want to hold up the posting!) A l’heure de l’apéritif en ce début de période hivernale, j’aime ouvrir mes papilles au Forum avec un Black Sazerac. Joseph Biolatto et son équipe exécutent les drinks d’une manière quasi instinctive qui se révèlent pour autant d’un parfait équilibre. Après le dîner je file me réfugier au bar de l’un des hôtels les plus mythiques et intimes de Paris, l’Hôtel rue des beaux arts à Saint-Germain. Derrière le bar, Carlos Madriz a tiré cette adresse vers les repères de la mixologie à l’image de son Strawberry Wilde. Ensuite, j’aime retrouver des amis au troisième bar des trois garçons, le Prescription Cocktail Club pour siroter un Florida Taragon jusqu’au bout de la nuit.

Adorable foodie, Clotilde Dusoulier author of both Chocolate & Zucchini and Clotilde’s Edible Adventure in Paris as well as a contributor to ELLE à table says: My favorite cocktail spot in Paris remains the Experimental Cocktail Club because it’s small, it’s cosy if you can score one of the little tables in the back, and I like their Strawberry Alarm Clock, a sweet and sour cocktail made with organic strawberries and organic vodka.”

The dangerously charming Philip Duff, “Your Man In Amsterdam,” saloonkeeper, cocktail chap, drinks guy, presenter, writer but definitely no model…says: “My favorite cocktail bar in Paris is Bar Le Forum on the Boulevard des Malesherbes because it’s classic without being boring, modern without being noisy or packed, and you can drink there in the afternoons as well!”

Friday Five

Because sometimes you want to hear someone besides, me, me me! Occasionally on a Friday, 52martinis will start getting the scoop on the best cocktail stops from five in-the-know Parisians and cocktail aficionados.

Kim Laidlaw-Adrey, fab girl about town of both UnlockParis and Paris Localite for BBC Travel says: My favourite place for cocktails in Paris right now is the Prescription Cocktail Club on the left bank. There’s a chic yet laid-back vibe, it’s an in-the-know place without being pretentious and the cocktails are expertly made and absolutely delicious. Perfect.

Gentry de Paris, tenacious, tempting and all around tantalizing burlesque queen says: I like Fabrice at La Villa because he makes the best Manhattan in town with my favorite difficult-to-find Van Winkle Rye.

Xavier Padovani, global brand ambassador for Hendrick’s and simply one of the coolest cocktail guys I know : This up and coming winter when visiting Paris one will start the night at the George V with a Hot George Punch and may probably somehow end up seeking L’Experience at Montorgueil’s best kept secret Experimental Cocktail Club.

Joseph Biolatto one of the masterminds behind the Forvm as well as one of my fav bartenders in Paris says: Mon bar préféré à Paris est le bar du Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme pour la qualité des produits sélectionnés et pour le service impeccable de Yann Daniel et de son équipe.

Doni Belau of Girls’ Guide to Paris (keep an eye out for the new Girls’ Guide launching in a few days!) says: One of the Girls’ Guide’s favorite places for cocktails in Paris remains L’Alimentation General on rue Jean Pierre Timbaud in the 11th arr. The bar/café sports a fabulous French blue exterior and décor reminiscent of a General Store and the crowd is of course young and hip. This wine/beer and cocktail bar serves up spectacular drinks as well as an eclectic mix of music ranging from hip-hop to jazz. No matter how great the drinks are – the atmosphere is king here. This is an excellent place to start a pub crawl as there are several more trés kool places on the same street and of course you can sneak around the corner to Oberkampf if you are in for the long haul.

A special thanks to friends and fellow cocktail enthusiasts who agreed to do the first Friday Five….because sometimes first is scary!

Upate: le Forvm


Le Forvm

4 Blvd

Males-

herbes

75008

Paris

Tel: +33

(0)1 42 65

37 86

How can you resist those boys?!

This little bit of blog love is overdue. I reviewed the Forvm quite some time ago and wasn’t non-plussed, but didn’t give it the ravest of reviews either. Over the past year, I’ve been in and out of there and am seriously enjoying it these days in terms of excellent cocktails.

First let’s get the superficial out of the way: they’ve revamped their décor. And, yes, I know that décor has nothing to do with drinks, but I’m digging the new style. It’s a bit fresher but still retains an old-school twist. They ditched the ugly carpet and kept the cool juke boxes.

Joseph, Xavier, Jerome and the rest of this tight team are knocking out some superlative drinks. Within the past few months, they ‘ve put out a new menu that, I believe, appeals to the fashion crowd they seem to be drawing as well as the serious cocktail drinkers. But, they have no problem going off-menu as well. Cocktail prices range from 14 to 25 Euros (with the Tommy’s margarita topping the charts at the 25 Euros mark)

They’re (rightfully) proud of the selection of spirits behind the bar – including Plymouth Navy Strength for those who want a little extra oompf to their martini. They offer an impressive selection of whiskies. I’ve randomly run into a fair number of meetup members who I took there on monthly cocktail meetup – which tells me that people are liking what they do.

Joseph gave an excellent presentation at this year’s Cocktails Spirit in Paris and if you missed that you can watch him play with a bit of fire with a Blue Blazer here. [insert usual disclaimer about not trying this one at home] And, while I haven’t checked into it (but might well soon) le Forvm organizes a Saturday afternoon “Bar School” for the cocktail curious.

This isn’t the place to hit if you just want to knock back anything. Quite simply, the Forvm is a spot for people who are seriously interested in cocktails to stop for a mature, sophisticated sip or two.

Wednesday Night Cocktail Adventures: Why Paris

Why Paris

60, Rue Jean Jacques Rousseau
75001 Paris
Tel : 01 40 26 47 63
I’m going to try and not let this post morph into a modern day Abbot and Costello sketch – but with a name like “Why” you see how I might go there. My first impression of this smallish spot is that the dark walls contrast with the stark white tables and chairs to give it a warm but modern ambiance. The background music, while not overwhelmingly loud, was fun and funky – with Boogieman and the nearly forgotten 80’s single Din Da Da making me dance around in my chair just a little bit as I perused the list of cocktails on offer.
I was immediately impressed by the menu which featured a good number of standards such as Manhattans, ti punch and bourbon sours, some new and interesting creations such as the bubble gum, bee sting and Why Paris Chocolate (all of which were a hit with those who favored sweeter drinks) and the unusual: “cocktail destructurés“.
Owner and bartender, Christophe, previously worked at le Forum, so he already had a pretty good arsenal of cocktail making skills before branching out on his own. My Bombay martini was stirred, served up in a chilled glass with a twist and tasted like it was made with love and care (I was given a choice of gins when I ordered, but took the house). With six of us packed around a couple of four tops, we had the opportunity to sample several drinks. Everyone was generally happy with their choices and for the second round I moved onto the deconstructed cocktails.
The Somerset was a measure of tequila with a bit of lime served up on the rocks in a martini glass accompanied by a puree of tomato and avocado. To consume this uniquely presented little concoction, you take a spoon full of the puree and follow it with a sip of the tequila. While I wouldn’t order one after another of these, I did get a kick out of the presentation and enjoyed the one I had.
While I was disappointed with the ‘gimmicky’ drinks i had at the Plaza Athenee some time ago, I felt none of that here. With these drinks – though in a similar vein – i felt like Christophe has much more of a genuine interest in creating and sharing something special with his clients and at a much more reasonable price. Violaine followed up with the deconstructed Planteur consisting of pineapple slices, jellied angostura orange and rum and a mini planteurs.
A few of us girls ended up lingering longer than usual, and after awhile Christophe brought over a small minty drink. While I never think a barman ‘owes’ customers a drink, i think it’s a nice touch when they bring something around on the house after a few rounds. One of the reasons we may have stayed longer than usual were the tasty bar snacks. No mere olives or pretzels, the Why brings out a nice tray of bread, salsa and rillette de veau. While the salsa was so so (I’m pretty picky about my salsa and could tell this came from a jar) the rillette was the star. Tasty and substantial, it allowed the group to while away a bit more time without having to rush off to get something in our tummies.

Why prices are reasonable for the quality at 10 Euros. However, what I noticed particularly catching patrons and passerby’s eye were the mojitos and caipirihnias at 6 Euros on offer at the moment. And, the few outside tables seem a good place to sample one of these during the summer months while people watching.

So, overall, for the Why bar, I give an enthusiastic “Why not!?”

 

Wednesday Cocktail Adventure: Le Forvm Bar

Le Forvm
4, Boulevard Malesherbes
75008 Paris
Tel : 01 42 65 37 86

(1 March 2010 update note: I’ve recently been back into the forvm and just loving what they are doing right now. Jerome is kicking ass behind the bar. I’m in a bit swamped right now, but I’ll be doing an updated post for this as soon as I can get in and take some new pictures. But, go visit those boys for some seriously enjoyable drinks!)

I went to Bar le Forum, prompted by an email from my friend Dayne, asking if I had been and pointing out that it had been nominated by Tales of the Cocktail for 2008 Best Classic Cocktail Bar (also among the list is my current favorite Paris cocktail bar: Experimental Cocktail Club.) I have to say I am a tiny bit surprised that it was on the nomination list – mainly because it seems a good cocktail bar for Paris – but that list pretty much covers the world. Now, my impression may be a bit skewed because normally I sit at the bar where I can watch, question and interact if possible. This time the group of 7 or so was larger than usual (including friends, Paul and Lauren, who joined us all the way from Seattle for this Cocktail Adventure) so we sat at a large table away from the bar. So, being happily involved with my friends, I’m sure I wasn’t as attentive to the bar going-ons as usual.

Le Forum has an old-boys’ school feel with its scattering of comfy armchairs, dark wood, low tables and cozy corners. I loved the two old juke boxes in the back, although took issue with what I found to be extremely unattractive carpet. (This certainly doesn’t affect the cocktails – I just often wonder why both public transportation upholstery and business carpeting can be found in such horrendous patterns).

Their menu made me giggle (immaturely) over such drinks as the “Pimp Martini” and the “Porn Star Martini” but I opted for the Dry Ten. This was pretty much a basic martini (Tanquery Ten & Nouilly Pratt) with a grapefruit twist. It was good, but I’ve discovered I’m not so partial to martini’s made with Tanquery Ten. My fellow tasters were generally happy with their various drink and the service was good. For my second round the server brought me something suggested by the bar based on my preferences. (It was gin, house bitters & cassis? I will take better notes next time when I blog so long after the fact!) It was good and I liked the simplicity of not trying to concoct something crazy or distracting me with umbrellas and sparklers.

Overall, at 16 – 18 Euros a drink, I was happy but not over the moon, jumping up and down, impressed by the place. I felt like they were very good, solidly-made cocktails, and did appreciate the interest the server/bartender took in recommending something based on my preferences. However, I feel like I should perhaps give this place another chance and will possibly come back with a glowing review. It’s a good place to check out given the standard of most Parisian cocktail bars and its lower prices relative to upscale hotel bars with good drinks. But, none of the regulars (or semi-regulars) in the group raved about it like they have over a couple of the past places.