Champagne in a Bubble Paris Adventures: le Bulle du Collectionneur

main bubble cocktailsle Bulle du Collectionneur
Hotel du Collectionneur
51 rue de Courcelles
75008 Paris

Paris cocktails1The Bubble is back!  A few years ago, we stopped into the Hilton Hotel Bubble Bar.  Since then, the hotel has gained a star and changed its name, but it has kept the winter tradition of blowing up the courtyard bubble for a festive cold weather coupe de champagne.

While on our last visit it was a white, winter wonder land sponsored by Tattinger, this year it’s a sexy darker decor with Moet on offer with the option of tiny plates of tasty snacks.  Otherwise the space and setup are basically the same as the previous occasion.

exterior bubble cocktailsDuring the day it’s a tea bar with sweet snacks like Christophe Adam eclairs or Bruno de Lorgues truffles. And this year it remains open until March.

At 24+ a glass of champagne it’s a bit of an indulgent evening.  But, worth it if you’re looking to stretch out the holiday feeling by escaping into this fairytale like little bubble hidden away in a sweet courtyard.

Snow Globe Cocktail Adventures: Hilton Bubble Bar

Hilton Arc de Triomphe Bubble Bar
51 rue de Courcelles
75008 Paris

For some festive fun, the Hilton Arc de Triomphe has installed a Tattinger sponsored ephemeral champagne bar in their courtyard. From 1 December to 15 January guests can enjoy swank sipping inside a snow globe.

In this unseasonably warm winter, faux snow and Christmas trees add a welcome holiday feel. Within, it’s a white, light, bright winter wonderland. Fake fur throws cover ample sofas and warming rugs are tucked beneath each table in case you need something extra cozy under which to snuggle.

For this type of operation, I appreciate the simplicity of the one and only drinking option: Champagne. There are three choices: Tattinger Brut Reserve (20 Euros), Tattinger Rose (21 Euros) or Tattinger Brut Millesime (28 Euros). For a few Euros extra, add on the “bulle fraicheur” (barsnack in a ball.) On my visit the bulle was a bread stick wrapped in a thin slice of duck breast on a generous mound of mascarpone dip.

The space holds a maximum of 35 guests at a time and has a no-reservations policy. Going at opening (18h00) means you’ll enjoy the place in relative peace. Later it gets livelier with larger groups – and more fun with sound. The acoustics of the bubble are those of a whispering gallery: every conversation is amplified and sounds moves about the space in strange ways. Friendly doormen carefully monitor entries and exits via the two door system to make sure one door remains closed at all times. Apparently if both doors are open at once, the dome deflates!

So, if you need a holiday spirit hit, this is it.

Rooftop Cocktail Adventures: le 7th

le 7th, Terrass Hotel

12-14 rue Joseph-de-Maistre
75018 Paris
Tél. : +33 1.46.06.72.85

I think it’s important to (at least try to) be aware of our faults and to correct them. One of my current personal fault projects: I’m a little bit of a grudge holder. So, when the restaurant atop the Terrass Hotel started fluctuating too much in service and quality for the price, I stopped indulging in their rooftop dining and mentally crossed them off my list of possible eats. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t longing for a bit of terrace time with them, but I was loath to pay full whack for a meal or talk my way into one of the very few spots for a drink to get it. And, then like an ex strolling back into my life with promise of change, they came up with their latest summer scheme.

No longer are reservations or long meal commitments necessary to enjoy the expansive view. The Terrass Hotel was now teasing me back with its latest rooftop transformation: le 7th. All summer, the rooftop terrace serves exclusively as a no reservations cocktail bar and lounge with the option of finger foods, burgers, salads and pasta should you feel peckish. Maybe we could get back together after all? I met up there with Wednesday regulars Matt, Vio and Mel as well as visiting style-meister cocktillians (and more) Howie and Tawny, to find out.

Once I made it past the multiple lobby staff and onto the roof, I immediately remembered what brought us together in the first place. The view is special. The faux-grass green matting gives the impression of stepping onto a healthy (but well manicured) lawn and the space is open, airy and relaxed. And, clearly this place has caught more than just my eye. The night of our reunion was a busy one with an abundance of the suit and earpiece crowd.

The drinks menu features 17 classics such as martini, manhattan and negroni and 9 house creations including three mojito riffs, all at 14 Euros each. My usual first order was a disappointment of proportions. While, I like a bit of vermouth in my martini, this was too much. Of the three gins on offer (Bombay, Gordon’s and Tanqueray) my guess is they’re using Gordon’s for the martinis. Opinions varied on the other drinks. In the surprisingly good category were the gin fizz, manhattan and strawberry basil mojito. The caipi was another overly sweet disappointment and the planter’s punch tasted of spiked juicebox.

Like many places, pretty garnishes can initially distract from the actual quality of the drink. The attention to visual details and fluctuation in cocktail quality says to me that there are some good intentions behind the bar, but maybe a lack of range and/or knowledge when it comes to serious cocktail skills. Warm weather clients looking for a bit of summer fun without high end cocktail expectations, will enjoy perching above Paris with something cold in hand. But, I would personally love to see a bit more consistency and attention to some of the mixers.

A flute of Lanson Black Label champagne goes for 15 (white) or 16 (Rose), and wines by the glass at 5 to 7 Euros seem a steal when you take into account the view. But, if you want to stick with the cocktails, I’d recommend either a Basil Strawberry Mojito when warm summer evenings call for something with plenty of refreshing crushed ice or a Manhattan once the temp drops with the setting sun.

Opinions on service fluctuated as well. I found the servers helpful in getting us all situated around the table with everyone arriving at different times and attentive about taking orders. However, there were a couple of glitches with Matt’s final beer order and everyone found the pseudo-seriousness of the downstairs staff a bit daunting. Fluctuations aside, we had – as usual – a great time together testing and tasting. And, while I snapped the usual pics, Howie captured the moments on paper.

So, Hotel Terrace, I’m no longer holding a grudge. You seem to be making an effort to change. And, while I don’t know what our future together holds, I could maybe be down with a summer fling.

Whisky Cocktail Adventures: Grant’s Popup Bar

Grant’s Afterworks
58 avenue Philippe Auguste
75011 Paris

Change is good. Shaking things up from time to time keeps you from rusting in place and freshens up your perspective on life. So, as someone who knocks back a bit of gin, when I got an invite for the Grant’s whisky Afterworks launch party I figured a bit of diverging from my usual course was in order. Plus I never turn down a party invite.

For the next two weeks Grant’s is sponsoring an early evening, reservations only, (free!) ephemeral bar. So I dragged along a +1, past the eye candy at the entrance and into a space that was actually even better than I had anticipated after seeing the press packet and Facebook page. Lively guests were partaking in tastings, billiards and cocktails while photogs snapped pics. The space is large and open, but the copious comfortable chairs and sofas lend a surprisingly relaxed air and allow for somewhat intimate groupings.

We headed to the busy bar to choose from the five featured cocktails. I started with the Old Fashioned (Grant’s whiskey, angostura, orange bitters, simple syrup) and Luke took the Grant’s Sour (whisky, lime juice, honey, simple syrup). Judging by the orders, the sour seems to be a popular choice and also a good option for those who are not die hard whisky fans. The barboys are doing a nice job of it and seemed to be – if not speedy – conscientious about what they were mixing and shaking.

We bumped into lovely Sion (of Paris (im)Perfect) and joined her and Ericka on their sofa while the first act of the evening began. A comedian and then a band hit center stage. After a bit of couch-time, we had a visit with the pleasant Ludovic, who was overseeing the degustations for the night. (henceforth, it will be Raphael heading up the tastings) He gave an interesting and concise rundown on Grant’s whisky and took us through a sampling of the Family Reserve, Sherry Cask and 12 year. While the 12 year was a crowd pleaser, I preferred the Sherry Cask. The 12 year is a drink with a good smokey, woody touch. But for me, personally, when it comes to scotch, I prefer some serious smoke over a little tease.

We finished the evening with a bit more meandering, a few nibbles from the passing waiters and a final stop at the bar. I ended with the Grant’s Jazz Club (Grant’s, creme de cacao and a vanilla bean). On leaving we got a swag bag with 3 sample bottles and a whisky glass in the triangular shape for which Grant’s has been known since they introduced it for their bottles in the 50′s.

Sound fun? Well, you’ve got until 30 April to experience it for yourself. Reserve via their Facebook page and go play a bit of foozball with a whisky cocktail in hand. And, report back! I’m curious to hear about the scene and crowd on regular nights.

I’ve been known to be a bit snarky about heavily brand sponsored events. But, I do think that if you believe in your product, the best advertisement is to give people a taste of it. If it’s as good as you say, they’ll come back for more. So, kudos to Grant’s for sharing their spirits in a fun, informative environment. In short, I like the people and products at Grant’s (especially their Hendricks gin – you know I couldn’t go a whole blog post without mentioning it!) But taking a tastebud detour for an evening was definitely a nice change of pace.

Yelp Drinks Week Cocktail Adventures

Dearest readers,

Can we talk? We’ve been together a long time. Three years. That’s longer than most of my relationships. And I want us to stay together for a lot longer so I will be honest with you about my dalliances. I’m diverging slightly from my usual posting M.O. I know you’ve come to expect certain things from me: exclusively cocktail bar reviews with an occasional Friday Five for fun. But, you see, this week is Yelp Drinks Week. And not only are the ladies behind Yelp France super cool, they work hard to make fun things happen for the Paris Yelp community.

So what have they done for us lately? They’ve arranged with 7 Paris bars to offer drink specials at half price all week long. So for you, gentle reader, I took it upon myself to visit all seven spots and give you the lowdown on what to drink where. No weekend plans yet? Good that means you’ve still got three days to check out the sweat deals on offer. TIP: if you want to make it a Yelp bar crawl the first three are on the list all within easy walking distance of each other.

Les Enfant Perdus
9 rue des récollets
75010 Paris
Tel. 01 81 29 48 26

Yelp Week Drink Specials:
Bourbon Vanilla Sour: 6
Martini Bianco Shine: 4.25
Cosmo: 5

Restaurant: yes
Terrace: yes
Les Enfants Perdus is a convenient stop after a wander along nearby Canal St Martin for a Martini Bianco Shine apero on the tiny sidewalk terrace. The vibe is more restaurant than bar so if the dinner menu tempts, head inside to sip on a starter beneath the small bar’s brightly colored ceramic tile ceiling.

Petit Chateau d’Eau

34 rue Château d’eau
75010 Paris

01 42 08 72 81

Yelp Week Specials
Caïpirinha: 3,50€
Champagne: 3,90€
Cognac cocktail: 5€
Restaurant: I think so? light stuff?
Terrace: yes

With its laid back atmosphere and loyal local clientele, Petit Chateau d’Eau is the place to hit for a cheerfully cheap glass of bubbly. The interior is small and welcoming or the outdoor tables offer a glance of frenetic street life and the colorful characters accompanying it.

Le Napoléon
73 rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis
75010 Paris

01 47 70 21 36

Yelp Week Specials

Mojito Royal: 4,50€
Napoleon’s Victory: 3,50€
Mary Martini: 3,50€

Restaurant: no
Terrace: yes
La Napoleon provides a hipster retreat in a Parisian pocket of some slightly less than savory neighbors. Make it a late night cocktail date, check out the kitsch cool decor details and try their eponymous cocktail special topped off with fresh honeycomb.
Le Pixel
10 rue Dauphine
75006 Paris

Yelp Week Specials
Yelp Cocktail:: 6€
Cointreau Champagne: 5€
Beer by the pint: 4€

Restaurant: no
Terrace: I don’t think so, but there might be something out the side door

Enthusiastic owner Michel pulls out all the presentation stops at the oft mentioned Pixel bar. Grab a group of friends and spend happy hour watching him light things on fire and load up your Yelp cocktail with more bling than your average drink.
Ô Chateau
68 rue Jean Jacques Rousseau
75001

Yelp Week Specials
Vin du Jour: 3,50€
Vodka Cocktail: 6€
Bas Armagnac 1974: 9€

Restaurant: yes
Terrace: no
The heavily buzzed and newly opened location for O’chateau is the perfect place to stick with the wine option during Yelp drinks week. Sit up at the expansive bar, order the vin du jour and nibble on some tasty olives for a steal.
Quinze Bar
15 Boulevard Saint Martin
75003 Paris

Yelp Week Specials
Chardonnay: 1,60€
Ti Punch: 2,50€
Shot: 1,50€

Restaurant: no
Terrace: yes
While 15 Bar won’t wow with decor on entering, the back corner ‘lounge’ is a cute surprise and staff are exceedingly friendly. If the ass-kicking ti punch is to tough for your tastebuds stick with an unassuming glass of Chardonnay.
Rolling Pom’s
25-27 rue Moret
75011 Paris

01 58 30 75 75

Restaurant: yes
Terrace: no

Yelp Week Specials
Leffe Ruby: 2€
Ti Punch: 3€
Vin de Pays: : 1€

A bit off the beaten path Rolling Pom’s pulls in clients with its binging pinball machine and revolving monthly art displays. Sit up at the pleasant bar and take a break from cocktails with a refreshing Ruby Leffe served up by the cheerful staff.

It’s good having goals. And now that I’ve reached my seven bar goal for the week I’ll be taking some downtime next week. And a special shout out to Zeva and Elodie & the rest of the Yelp team for motivating me to try some new spots that I might not have visited otherwise. I encourage you to do the same.

St Germain Cocktail Adventures

Popup St Germain Cocktail Corner at LMDW Fine Spirits

6 carrefour de l’Odeon

75006 Paris

Tel: 01 46 34 70 20

I’ve mentioned before that one of the fun parts of writing a cocktail blog is meeting other interesting cocktail-minded people when they pass through Paris.Another upside is getting to take part in various cocktail related events.Earlier this month I made a stop into La Maison du Whiskey’s new boutique (LMDW Fine Spirits) for the Women’s Spirit Society St Germain tasting.

I’m admittedly a bit reserved when it comes to brand sponsored events and bars. But, if I like the brand, I’m more than happy to get on board. And, I do like St Germain. Although it’s made in France (from hand-picked elderflower blossoms), when it hit the scene and became a bit of a darling in the cocktail world, it was nearly impossible to find here. I’m happy to see it being featured in Paris now – as are my friends in the U.S. who no longer have to lug bottles over for me.

The nice people of LMDW and St Germain made it an enjoyable evening with munchies, an informative tasting and the “St Germain Cocktail Corner” upstairs.I was happy to see Carina (formerly of the Experimental Cocktail Club) behind the bar and even happier after she mixed me up a delicious Amaro Sour.Towards the end of the evening, her fellow barman, Stan, impressed with a fire-y display of St Germain Blazers.

Sounds fun, no?Well, you don’t have to write a cocktail blog to try these tasty concoctions.During December the Cocktail Corner has been open to the public on Thursday and Friday evenings.I passed by last night and had a Traditional Elderfashion (St Germain, Elijah Craig 12 year Bourbon, bitters).

So, stop into the store, ogle the many pretty bottles lining the shelves on the main floor and then head upstairs to the pop-up bar.But, time’s running out.The Cocktail Corner is only open one more night: 23 December from 6:00 to 9:00 PM. So make a point to pass through and try one of those yummy Amaro sours or the featured drink of the night the Sake Blossom.

Mojito Cocktail Adventures: Bacardi Mojito Lab

Bacardi Mojito Lab
28 rue Keller
75011 PARIS
Tel : (+33) 1 75 77 23 95

Forest fact: I should probably be ashamed to admit the following, but I’m kind of fascinated by living statue buskers. I always wonder what they do at the end of a shift. Do they take the metro home in full get-up? Do they sit still as a statue on the ride? It seems that I secretly like to watch these spectacles that everyone mocks. I get a kick out of mimes. I own contact juggling balls that I will learn to use some day and wow you with my skills. So, it might not surprise you to hear that I’m also a little fascinated by flair. But that’s between me and YouTube….in the privacy of my own home.

However, when it comes to cocktails, I don’t need or want living statues, mimes, flair or even contact juggling balls involved, so let’s chat a bit about the recently opened flair-o-rific Bacardi/Laurent Greco project: the Bacardi Mojito Lab. Allen and I popped in and found that Wednesdays are “afterworks.” From 19h00 to 21h00 it’s 25 Euros to get in the door, which gets you two drinks and buffet table grazing.

50 Euros lighter, in we go. Hello, circa 1980′s all-inclusive spring break destination dance club! Dim lighting, acid green touches, pumping dance music…you get the picture. The buffet tables were classed up (I use that lightly) with single red roses in tall vases and scattered petals. Flair videos loop on screens from wall to wall. While, I’ve been told flair bartending is still quite big in France, this is the first place I’ve actually seen it.

The food was nice little bite-sized nibblies for a buffet, but the set up was annoying. No plates, no napkins – so you either sat directly at the buffet table to pop bites in your mouth while others reached around you to grab said bites, or you reached around the people sitting at the buffet tables. For drinks, you go downstairs.

And downstairs it’s all Bacardi and all mojito, mojito or mojito, but with a bit of flair. Sexy barboys toss around shakers and take your order for one of the three mojito variations on offer during the afterworks. This is also a point of contention with me because when the doorman explained the Afterwork concept at 25 Euros, I specifically asked if it applied to the whole menu – because that’s what I was here to check out. He said ‘yes.’ But, no – you get classic, souped up or raspberry mojito. All the other gimmicky, tricked out mojitos are only on offer after the afterworks. On the normal menu, drinks range from 8 to 14 Euros and include things like cotton candy or caviar (cocktail kind, not fish kind)

In an attempt to not be a complete crank, there were a few things I liked. The staff – though a bit spacey – were friendly. I really liked the mint wall and the mint window. I think the boutique, which sells various types of mint and kaffir limes (although not the night we were there) was a fun touch. They also have a smoking room for those who don’t want to brave the cold winter months (although it was closed the night we were there.)

I’m not sure what kind of a crowd they expect to draw. They’re at Bastille with so many competing (and probably cheaper) bars nearby. You can’t spit without hitting a bar in Paris that serve mojitos, so I’m curious as to what they think the attraction will be. I’ve been told this is a popup – so perhaps they’re banking on their ephemeral status for interest. They also offer classes if you want to learn to flair up a mojito at home.

As for me, the only time I want a mojito is if it’s being made by old and stoic Felix at dodgy local Bar Castillo de Farnes in Havana where Che and Fidel toasted the revolution (true story – there he is in he picutre). And, he definitely doesn’t do flair. Otherwise, Paris, you can keep your mojito trend and I’ll stick with the martini search.

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.