Ephemeral Cocktail Adventures: Cointreau Prive

Popup bar at Hotel Particulier
23 avenue Junot
75018 Paris

Earlier this week I received a small sleek black envelope in the mail containing a bracelet of delicately thin purple ribbon with a simple silver key – the ‘key’ to the ephemeral Cointreau Prive, hosted for the next month or so in the lovely Hotel Particulier. Cointreau made a savvy marketing move in creating a Dita Von Teese buzz around the latest ‘exclusive’ Paris popup bar. In addition to having the bracelet, clients must also be on the guest list to enter.

Jodie, Justine and I stopped in on the first evening of this fleeting bar to check out the vibe and drinks. While I’m sure they’ll work out the kinks, the opening night was a tad disorganized. They opened later than the stated time and staff seemed to be a bit confused. However, I was very happy to see some solid manpower behind the bar with Maxime from Forum mixing drinks from the menu of 8 choices. (Singapore sling, side car, storck club, sweet manhatten and four cointreau inspired drinks). With no vermouth on hand for a martini, I went for a sweet manhatten and the girls tried a Singapore Sling and a Cointreau Prive (vodka, cointreau, ginger beer and chambord). Cocktails were well-made, but Maxime is working with a limited stock. Drinks range from 10 to 12 Euros.

The later it got, the busier it got, so we decided perhaps a bottle of bubbly was the way to go to avoid lines and waiting. Piper by the bottle can be had for an even 100 Euros (16 Euros by the glass). A tapas menu offers munchies at 5 to 10 Euros.

The decor is predictably bordellogant (that is my new term for bordello-elegant) but I love the fact that it’s spread over three floors with lots of naughty little nooks and crannies. Curtains, plush chairs and sofas and sexy lamps all vie for space in this very red environment. Even the bathrooms weren’t spared in the attempt at creating seating, mingling and sipping space, with a makeshift seat over one of the bathtubs.

The bar is open for the next couple of months. All reservations are currently taken, but they will periodically open up spaces over the next few weeks. For those of you not already booked in for an evening, I’ll try and announce on either my Twitter or FB feed when new dates open.

Random Cocktail Adventures: Hotel Particulier Part II

Le Tres Particulier at Hôtel Particulier Montmartre

23, avenue Junot
75018 Paris

Tel. : 00 33 1 53 41 81 40

Round Two…onto more upbeat feedback. Go Team! Stay Positive! On our second night in a row at le Tres Particulier, Laure cordially re-welcomed us and personally introduced us to David, the resident cocktail artist. (note to readers: Please read the word “artist” in your head with a French accent, as it sounds funnier to me that way. If you can’t mentally do a French accent, just fake it – no one’s really listening)

On this visit things were looking up. I was still entirely smitten with the serene outdoor setting, which transports patrons from the usual Parisian chaos to something more refined, quiet and remote. They were debuting their recently revamped regular menu and it showed promise with a slew of potentially interesting cocktails. Guests can choose from several house creations or various well-known and classic cocktails. (although I’ve personally never heard of a Between the Sheets variation that swaps the brandy for gin – the rum, yes – but anyway, I’m trying not to veer from my path of Positivity today)

I took my usual Martini, which was made with Hendrick’s and – as can be seen from the cloudy appearance in the photo – was shaken, not stirred. David gave me the choice of garnish: olives or capers, which Wendy thought was a fun alternative. But, I took the olives. However, my martini was good and I believe she enjoyed her drink as well.

We chatted with David about his background in cocktails. David’s an artist and, prior to working here, had been out of the cocktail scene for 7 or so years. Previously, he worked behind the bar at various San Francisco and New York establishments. He’s clearly no cocktail dummy, but those who are seeking friends in the sometimes insular international cocktail club scene, will find that he’s a bit of a lone maverick. While he has kind words to say about places like the Experimental, he’s clear that he’s “not trying to do the same thing they are.” He also mixed us up a sample drink to share, which was kind of him & refreshing.

While I took exception to a few points here (shaking versus stirring, recipes unfamiliar to me), it is clear that he takes his role behind the bar seriously. He’s capable of making good drinks – I might even go so far as to say exceptional for Paris. I’m absolutely in love with the outdoor terrace set up and would go back again for that bit of quiet, hidden charm alone. As long as I’m not paying for enamel stripping drinks here, I can remain positive about this sweet ‘secret’ bar.

Random Cocktail Adventures: Hotel Particulier Part I

Le Tres Particulier at Hôtel Particulier Montmartre

23, avenue Junot
75018 Paris

Tel. : 00 33 1 53 41 81 40

Here’s a little secret about me. I can hold a grudge like no body’s business. No need to tell me – I know this is a really immature quality and as I get older I try and work on that. But, due to this little personality trait, I almost didn’t go back to the Hotel Particulier a second time.

The private bar at Hotel Particulier is closed on Wednesdays, so I took advantage of a Friday night during Wendy’s recent visit to Paris to partake in what I’d heard was a beautiful terrace on which spectacular drinks were to be enjoyed. Do note: reservations are required in order to score a spot in this idyllic little hide-away on the quiet backside of Montmartre.

After finding the basically unmarked entry gate, patrons meander down a cobble path – and possibly (like us) unintentionally wander into the neighboring yard before being redirected to the Hotel Particulier. Having been buzzed through the second gate, a graciously unctuous overseer Laure, ushers clients to their private tables at the charming – and, yes, idyllic – open air bar.

So far, so good. Now, let’s get down to business: the cocktails! Well, that took about 3 seconds. The menu featured a measly three house creations (one vodka based, one rum based, one gin based). When I asked the quixotically quirky waitress/bartender if she could make a dry martini, she enthusiastically answered “Yes! If you tell me what’s in it!” Was I particularly edgy this evening? I don’t know, but at this point, I found the enthusiasm more grating than appreciated and offered to just stick with the menu. She agreed that would be better. Wendy and I remarked that we had come specifically for what we understood was a long list of cocktails on offer. She explained that the usual bartender was unusually away for the evening so he had entrusted her with three recipes and strict instructions to follow them precisely.

Now, cocktails, at 15 Euros, aren’t cheap here – but I was willing to forgive that for the dreamy space. And, interestingly, after the first round, prices drop to 10 Euros a drink (which I think is a bargain for a good cocktail here.) And here’s where it got dicey. Not only were we not in the market for a second drink, but we weren’t even able to finish our first ones. I took a Captain Hook (cognac, rum, cassis & lemon juice) and Wendy took an Eva (gin, lemon & rose liqueur). She got maybe halfway through hers and I – being more of a glutton for punishment…or booze – got about two-thirds through it. They were both so over-acidic that our teeth were screeching. When two clients – especially two who are clearly interested in cocktails – leave their 15 Euros drinks unfinished and get up to go, I think that sends a sign to the bar staff. A sign that it’s a good time to ask if the drinks are okay, which didn’t happen. We both felt a bit cheated that the usual “cocktail artist” was not in residence, yet we were still expected to pay the usual prices.

Someone told me recently that it’s wrong to complain about things after the fact, when you could have said something directly at the moment. And, I think that’s right. I (nicely) replied to Laure’s question about our visit with the truth: that we were particularly disappointed with the cocktails since we had come on that reputation alone. She apologized and explained that she had recommended that the faux-barlady stick with beer and wine. (yet, no one recommended this to us). She offered to comp us a round of drinks on our next visit. (the next visit, not the current one…sneakily good business practice, a bit annoying for us.)

We left, disappointed and 30 Euros lighter. After a brief discussion, however, we decided to take her up on that offer. We had asked to see the normal cocktail menu and were curious and impressed by the possibilities. We immediately called our friend Laure and made reservations for the next night – which I’ll try and post on quickly because things did get better.