Wednesday Cocktail Adventure: Le Doll

Le Doll
104 Blvd de Clichy
Paris 75018
Tel: 01 82 09 47 42

Maybe I’m a closet pervert. I just realized, I’ve always lived close to “redlight” districts. In Seattle, I was just off of Aurora where the working ladies congregate. In Geneva, it was the Paquis, just blocks away from the hostess bars. And, in Paris, I’ve always been just a few minutes’ walk from Pigalle. So, I’m no stranger to passing shady, seedy bars with their friendly female staff loitering just outside the doors.

When I saw ads for Le Doll, a new bar opening around here, I thought it might be a promising little spot in this area overrun with sex shops, tacky tourist souvenirs and kebab take out. They claim to specialize in cocktails and the graphics on their site made me think I might just stumble into a small modern-day, cheeky Studio 54 – glitzy disco swank with just enough underbelly to make it interesting.

Unfortunately, rather than tweaking the standard Pigalle fair to appeal to a sophisticated cocktail-seeking crowd, Le Doll just depressed me. The music was too loud for this completely empty and dark space. The multiple disco balls, neon lights, glowing screens and sketchy black couches adorned with pillows took the ambience beyond fun kitsch to borderline trashy (and not in a good way).

Behind the bar, clients will find such things as a variety of flavoured Grey Goose vodkas and a couple of gins on hand (G vine, Bombay Sapphire). Their cocktail menu offers up several pages of champagne based drinks, house creations and standards (mai tais, mojitos, etc) at 12 Euros. The martini section features two options, one of which uses Earl-grey infused gin, (not to be confused with Audrey Saunders’ MarTEAni).

I ordered a martini and got a suprisingly drinkable (not withstanding the chunk of lemon floating in it) Bombay Sapphire & Noilly Pratt combo. Others tried the mai tai, mint julep and a champagne based drink. The drinks were fine, but certainly nothing that merited repeat visits. For my second drink I took a Between the Sheets, which was not bad, but served on the rocks.

Some additional friends called and couldn’t find the place. So, I stood in front of the door looking up and down the street to find them. After a few moments in this spot, I realized that the throngs of pedestrians that are always on Blvd Clichy were looking me up and down as they passed probably thinking I was another one of the loitering ladies in front of another dodgy bar.

When the last of the group arrived, we decided it wasn’t worth it to stay for more. We paid – taking advantage of the 1/2 price happy hour until 20h00 – and went elsewhere. Perhaps this place becomes more interesting afterhours when this area pops with tipsy bar-hopping tourists looking to bump and grind in noisy crowded bars with blaring music and dark corners after 2am.

On the upside, the service was great. But, for me if either the drinks had been stellar or the atmosphere more interesting in a trashy fun way, I might be willing to forgive one for the other. But, as it was, neither will bring me back to this place where I fully expect to get propositioned if I spend too much time near the door.