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!

Wednesday Cocktail Adventure: La Villa

La Villa
37 avenue de Friedland
75008 Paris
Tel: 01 82 28 75 08

I’m spending some holiday time this year in warm Caribbean climes where I’ll be partaking in some rum-intaking. Happily some of my favorite drinking partners – Matt, Violaine, Wendy & Dayne – are joining me on vacation. But before leaving for nicer weather, Matt, Violaine and I slipped in one last Wednesday Cocktail Adventure for 2009 at the newly opened La Villa.

Just steps from the Arc de Triomphe, the latest Demarle venture strikes me as a bit ambitious with its uber-sleek bar design, impressive restaurant space, sharply dressed barmen and Champs Elysees prices. A pretty blond hostess greets and guides you to the warmly lit bar lined with Smirnoff Black vodka bottles. (presumably a sponsor)

Not surprisingly for 23 Dec, the place was quiet. However, Fabien, the pleasant young man behind the bar, said they’d been doing good business since their opening about a week prior.

In view of Demarle’s other cocktail bars, I found the drinks menu here a bit of a let-down with its five Smirnoff Black vodka inspired drinks at 16 Euros and five uninspired classics (mojito, cosmo, caipi, bourbon sour & French martini) at 14 Euros. But I wasn’t let down by Fabien’s martini making skills. He chilled up a glass and filled it with a nice proportion of stirred Tanqueray/Martini Dry and topped it off with a twist. A bowl of crunchy kettle chips was served with the drinks.

Matt ordered a side car which was good, but a bit light on the cointreau for my taste. Violaine went for the Black Apple (Smirnoff Black, apple juice, black berry cordial) While it’s not one I would have ordered, it wasn’t bad & I loved the color.

Alongside the ten cocktails, you’ll find a champagne offering with Moet at 14 Euros a glass and various options by bottle of three very recognizably good brands: Veuve, Moet and Dom. I wonder if this is telling of their target clientele: the young and ostentatiously beautiful high-end spenders with plenty of pocket money for obviously (most important) well-known bubbly.

For my second drink, Fabien mixed up a cool little number consisting of basil, Hendricks, cucumber, grapefruit bitters and falernum and meanwhile explained their plans to amp up the cocktail menu in the new year. The bar stock is relatively small, but there are a few things which aren’t found in standard Parisian cocktails bars (aperol, St Germaine, wide range of bitters) alongside a decent gin selection for Paris (Hendricks, Martin Millers, Tanqueray, Tanqueray 10). The staff seems to know what they’re doing and aren’t thrown by classic off-menu requests. So I’m crossing my fingers that they do indeed venture into more exciting cocktail territory.

They’ve got plenty of space to squeeze in the cocktail lovers with the stool seating along the lengthy (faux?) marble bar, plushly modern adjoining room and sizeable, clinically white main street terrace. When I stepped outside to see the terrace, the doorman gave me a similar “we’ve got bigger and better plans for the new year run down” and explained that they were putting in heating lamps and plants around the terrace to serve as a buffer from the busy street.

And that seems to sum up La Villa for the moment. There’s more work to do, but it’s a good start. So, I hope they do follow through and it just keeps getting better. And, with the end of my 2009 blogging, that’s what I’m wishing for my readers as well: a 2010 that gets off to a good start & just keeps getting better. Happy Holidays everyone!