The Café Iguana
15, rue de la Roquette
I’m a bit behind in my blogging, but that’s probably because I wasn’t particularly inspired by my next bar following La Famille. Sometimes after I go to a place, someone will say “But why did you go there for cocktails?” And, it’s usually a place that I wasn’t particularly impressed with from a cocktail standpoint. But, I do like to make up my own mind & my own cocktail discoveries. Unfortunately, this wasn’t really one of them.
The Iguana Bar is located at the corner of Rue de la Roquette & Rue de Lappe in the busy Bastille. Rue de Lappe is a street jam-packed with bars and in the evenings, groups of tourists roam from door to door of these buzzing establishments. The atmosphere is lively and possibly fun – but I kind of consider it a street for “amateurs”. In full discloser, I haven’t spent a great deal of time there – so, as always, I could be wrong.
The décor is wanna-be-upscale with high ceilings and a grand spiral staircase, which are probably more impressive in the evening when dimmer lights and more cocktails throw a sheen of elegance over it. But, in the daylight at 6:30, the black and red accents made me feel like I had stumbled into a topless dance bar. Their website proclaims that cocktails are king here. So, I sat at the bar and ordered my martini from a very pleasant and friendly bartender. With no discussion on how I wanted it, I got some Bombay and a few drops of vermouth shaken into a glass, followed by actual chunks of ice.
He seemed to do a bit better when we left him to his own devices to surprise us with our second round. He delivered two large (non-fresh) fruit-juice based drinks, telling us that both are great classics when made correctly. Mine was a Shark Bite and Matt’s was a Hurricane. Both were fine – but it gives me the impression that this is a bar where a lot of cocktails are served in pint glasses. Both Matt and I felt like, while it wasn’t a bad place, it just wasn’t as interesting from a cocktail perspective as some of our more recent adventures. But the bar snacks we ordered – a cholesterol raising combination plate of chicken strips, chorizo & nachos – were excellent in that “they’re really bad for you & taste like it” bar food way.
I noticed some The Bitter Truth bitters on the bar & asked the bartender what drinks he used them for. He said he didn’t use them, but apparently the evening shift used them when they were inspired.
Now, I may sound a bit down on the Iguana Bar, but the truth is, I’m not. My overall impression was that I wouldn’t go there for serious cocktails – but Paris isn’t really a city with a large serious cocktail culture. And, I can imagine that if you want big, sweet-ish drinks in pint glasses with lots of fruit juice but without the bothersome taste of alcohol, it could be a lot of fun. With happy hour prices, we paid a very fair 5-ish Euros per drink. They stay open until five, so the draw here is probably more the party atmosphere and perfectly acceptable cocktails for that crowd. Unfortunately, I just feel like I’m getting too old and for that crowd on a regular basis.