Paris Cocktails & Food Pairings: Pasdeloup

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Pasdeloup
108, rue Amelot
75011 Paris

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All summer we were hearing about a handful of very promising openings to come. And, while we’re still waiting for most of them, Pasdeloup led the pack by opening doors a couple of months ago.

This casually chic spot boasts some of the city’s best bar talent thanks to Amanda Boucher, previously of Candelaria (which just took a spot on the worlds 50 top bars list – again). Amanda has displayed an enthusiasm, inquisitiveness and study over the past several years allowing her to hone her skills to impressive levels.

IMG_4911At Pasdeloup, she has created a menu of around 10 cocktails at 12 Euros each. There is no pandering to the masses with a simple fruit+vodka choice. Their vodka cocktail includes vinegar, as well as cocchi Americano and pisco which results in something refreshing, bracing and a little bit unexpected for the general drinking public. A look at the rest of the menu shows a competent and calculated sense of balance within individual cocktails as well as throughout the menu. Many of the cocktails are pre-batched, making for more consistency. Those looking for the classics will have no problem here, as confirmed with my usual martini order.

IMG_4908Additionally, they created a small selection of four cocktail and food pairings like a Spritz du moment paired with Shitake for 14 Euros. Of special note is the Chevreau complet (22 Euros), which comes with the “A” cocktail (otherwise, unavailable outside of the pairing). This dry, sparkling drink is not intended to be served alone, but only alongside the chevreau sandwich to offset its meaty richness. The results are rather lipsmackingly good.

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Parisian Coffee and Cocktail Adventures: Lockwood

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Lockwood
73 Rue d’Aboukir
75002 Paris

With the emergence of a new breed of coffee bar, cocktails aren’t the only notable drinking trend to hit the capital over the past few years. Recently, three brothers have capitalized on both crazes in creating the Lockwood.

IMG_9233Paris’ latest It-spot combines three different drinking styles all under one roof with Brûlerie Belleville coffee and light snacks during the day, easy-going aperitif options early evening and serious cocktails from 8 p.m. onwards in the downstairs bar.

Upstairs, a large, clean glass front brightens things up while mellow wood tones and soft light keep it warm. Bottles hang from bungee cords above a small bar (reminding me of the setup up at the Tippling Club….), coffee filters serve as lampshades and customers cluster around high tables. Slip down the back stairs and you’ll find a collection of stone-vaulted rooms with low chairs and tables and a larger central bar. There the vibe is more conducive to nighttime drinking. The Lockwood feels both Parisian and international at the same time, which is no big surprise considering the team’s collective experience includes time at Silencio, Ten Belles, plus a few international endeavors.

IMG_9227The night I stopped in with Laurance, Thibaut and Regis, we started upstairs where the menu offers a dozen drinks that kick the night off nicely. The aperitif aspect is obvious with options including bitters like Aperol Spritz, Campari Orange, or Americano. There’s a Paloma on the menu, which has been coming into cocktail play a bit more recently plus a couple of hot options like mulled wine or Irish Coffee. My martini was enjoyable as were the Whiskey Pomme (Buffalo Trace and apple juice from the owners’ family orchards) and a Negroni. While there are no surprises, they are none needed to deliver a good drinking experience. It’s a solid and satisfying selection of aperitifs ranging from 7 to 12 Euros plus some beer, bubbles and wines.

IMG_9255The larger downstairs bar does things a bit differently with just under 20 cocktails at 11 to 15 Euros. The Zacapa old fashioned (old fashioned variation with Zacapa rum 23, house syrup of apple & cinnamon, orange and angostura) was nice, although ever so slightly sweet for my taste. The Whet Appetite is a similar to some options we’ve seen around Paris with its  combo of tequila, cool cucumber and a Tabasco heat. Their rendition of the Penicillin delivers the familiar smoke and honey flavors you’d expect.

IMG_9258Ingredients are fresh and preparation considerate. They aren’t overextending themselves but rather focusing on a manageable menu, which is key to successfully pulling off a concept that focuses on doing different things simultaneously.

On the night I was there, I not only enjoyed myself but noted there were plenty of booze and bar biz people in as well – which I take as a good sign. At this point, Paris is probably not desperate for another cocktail bar.  And, that’s why Lockwood is exactly the type of place the city now needs.  Its relaxed attitude, understated cool, and focus on quality ingredients are the right combination to satisfy the coffee connoisseur, casual early evening drinker as well as the late night bar crawler. Given their initial showing and reception, they are set to be a popular and prevalent force on the Paris drinking scene.  Fortunately they open from 8am onwards making it a venue worth a visit anytime of the day.

 

Clandestine Paris Cocktail Adventures: Castor Club

perso 683Castor Club
14 Rue Hautefeuille
75006 Paris

perso 698Considering it’s been around for a year or so, I have no idea why it took me so long to get to the Castor Club. And once I did, I also have no idea why more people aren’t talking about it.

These days it’s nothing unusual to have an minimally marked entrance without flash. And, given the ‘clandestine’ nature of the Castor Club, I expected a bit of attitude at the door. Not so. I popped in at opening to a welcoming and friendly staff and installed myself at the bar to wait for Laurence and Laetitia.

perso 700First impression: the decor delivers something totally different and difficult to describe. When I wrote about Castor Club for WBB, I called it “colonial hunting lodge meets English gentlemen’s club.” Since then, I’ve seen it referred to as a lodge in Iceland, a Norwegian village tavern, something from Twin Peaks, and a Siberian chalet. And somehow all of these are appropriate. With it’s dim lighting, dark tones, wooden slats, green velour benches built into the wall, curious lampshades it feels somehow dark, frightening, exotic and comforting. It’s disconcerting sex appeal.

And the appeal isn’t lacking from the menu either. The typical boxes are ticked with fresh ingredients, a nice range of spirits and a few surprises like sage essence or seawater concentrate. The Chirac 95 incorporates a homemade apple shrub. It’s nice to see shrubs, which have been getting lots of cocktail play elsewhere, more in Paris. Cocktails ring it at a very reasonable (for the space and quality) price of 11 to 13 Euros. For those looking for something else, there are a few interesting beers at around 6, white wine and a glass of Pieper at 7.50.

perso 682My Broker’s martini also ticked all the boxes: chilled glass, stirred, good proportions, appropriate garnish, nice glass. The gin selection has some nice options including Brokers, Hendricks, Aviation, Citadelle, Old Raj, Junipero and Blackwood’s. Between the three of us, we had the opportunity to sample a few – all of which were well done. I sampled an off menu suggestion that included a carrot and Combier Kummel, which I also don’t often see around town. The Moscow Mule is served up in a nice copper cup. Rather than detail each drink, I’d much rather recommend that you get in there and try them for yourself.

perso 702The upstairs is small and intimate and for those who want something more, the downstairs 18th century stone basement offers cozy wall nooks, more music and dancing. If I understand correctly there may also be options for privatizing or reserving this space.

In short, I am particularly glad to have finally made it here. While I’d love to keep the address hush-hush, we know that’s just not possible in Paris. And, not only do these boys deserve a nice shout out, you, dear readers, also deserve to know about the city’s better drinks. So get yourself to this surreal space for some sipping.

Swanky Cocktail Adventures: Bistrologist

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Bistrologist
16, avenue de Friedland
75008 Paris

With new and emerging cocktail scenes, it’s sometimes the bartender more than the bar itself that makes a place. At least a few Paris cocktail spots have shown a downhill slide after losing some star bar power (Mama Shelter, l’Hotel, to name a few…) So, it’s interesting to keep an eye on not just bars, but the staff movements too. I’ve seen Greg Hazac’s work as he’s gone through various positions at le Secret, Royal Monceau, le 29, and, most currently, the Bistrologist.

IMG_3757The Bistrologist is the new incarnation of le Secret after its temporary closure.  The same sexy and seductive décor remain with its dark wooden walls, soft chairs, and crisp white cloths on tables topped with a single flower. The airy, comfortable terrace also remains for sophisticated sipping with a side of pretty people watching.

While the deco may have stayed the same, there have been some positive tweaks to the original that improve the overall experience. Greg has successfully incorporated aspects of his own recent venture, le 29, with those of le Secret from the sleek silver picks to bespoke cocktails offered on the new menu “comme au 29.”

The menu offers just short of twenty house creations at 15 Euros each, based on a range IMG_3760of spirits and focusing on fresh herbs, house syrups, teas and a few surprises such as crème de marron (chestnut puree) or peanut butter. There’s enough range to please palates seeking something easygoing (think gins, vodkas, elderflower, cucumbers, etc.) to those wanting a more forceful flavor profile (think browns and bitters.) The one option that makes me laugh is the tic tac martini (vodka, citrus and tic tac syrup), which seems pretty much like a slightly more mature version of a Jet 27 drink.

For more convivial cocktail options, they do them in a larger format for sharing  (60 Euros.) For longer nights or larger crowds, you can also order them by the bottle at 190+ Euros, served in heavy cut-glass decanters with a side of ice for an indulgent DIY drinking experience.

IMG_3763On the night of my visit, there was no dry vermouth, so Greg made a variation of a smoky martini with No. 3, Laphroaig, Noilly Pratt Ambré, and syrup.  I know some bar folks who refuse to make smoky martinis on the grounds that gin and whisky shouldn’t mix.  But, I find it an interesting change from time to time as the gin makes for a cleaner delivery of the peat smoke up front (as opposed to it hiding in the back as it might with a straight glass of the Laphroaig in this case.) Next I tried the mescal-based Baiser d’Iki with tea syrup and bitters, which was a good follow up to a smoky martini.

Of course, I’m hoping for some dry behind bar soon to accompany the selection of gins on the menu: Bombay Sapphire, Broker’s, Tanqueray (TLD and 10), Beefeater, Hayman’s Old Tom, Hendrick’s, Sipsmith, No. 3, Plymouth Navy, Monkey 47 and Junipero.

IMG_3780They are looking to kick up the food quality a notch with more attentive sourcing and homemade dishes. I tried a burger which was oozing plenty of toppings and just messy enough to verify its made-on-site cred. For more bar snacking options, they’ve got caviar d’aubergine (8 Euros), caviar Osceittre (130 Euros) and plenty of choice in between (with most prices in the low teens).  For those seeking something beyond cocktails, as with many of the current new places, they are focusing on natural as well as biodynamic wines.

Overall, it’s a seductive spot with the potential to charm with its personalized cocktails. Given the location, ambiance and prices, I imagine that it could easily pull in a crowd of young professionals and in-the-know tourists off the Champs.

And, as for Greg, he’s an interesting barman to follow.  He’s content to march to the beat of his own drum and focusing on his bespoke creations rather than chasing too many cocktail trends.  He appreciates an element of elegance and class and strives to bring that to the customer drinking experience without snobbish affectations.  Basically, he’s just a really nice guy trying to make drinks that please his patrons, so I hope his re-installation in this space pull in an equally nice crowd who appreciate it.

 

 

Polynesian Cocktail Adventures: Dirty Dick

IMG_3126Dirty Dick
10 Rue Frochot
75009 Paris

IMG_3122Change is good. And, I’ve seen some especially good change when it comes to the Pigalle in the last few years.  Paris’ red-light district has gone from cocktail dead zone to cocktail destination thanks to the arrival of bars like Glass, Kremlin and Rock’n’Roll Circus.  And the latest place to bring a bit of kicky change to the area? The naughtily named Dirty Dick, which is giving Pigalle some Polynesian personality with its tiki themed bar and drinks. I can get down with a bit of South Seas style sipping, so I stopped in with one of my fav drinking partners to check things out.

IMG_3123With several busy bars already under their belts, the team behind the Dirty Dick went all out with their latest venture. While the typical touches like rattan furniture, palm tree wall paper, and tiki masks, give it the appropriate island feel, they’ve added some extras that knock the deco up a notch. Two tall totem poles – specially carved for the space and weighing a hefty 350 kilos each – frame a lush wall of tropical plants. American artist, David “Gonzo” Gonzalez created another kind of lush wall with his mural of a flirty bikini bottom-clad beach beauty. A sweet soundtrack of tropical bird tweets loops in the loos. And, the night we were there, the place was already packed with neighborhood locals enjoying the festive vibe and fun drinks.

IMG_2887The friendly team behind the bar – including Scotty (previously of the UFO) and Christina (of the Kremlin) – know how to do a good time as well as a good drink.  Before looking at the menu, I sheepishly ordered a dry martini. Being in a tiki joint, I “should” go for one of the rum creations… but, you know, the martini thing, it’s what I do. But guess what? There’s already one on the menu with their special grapefruit spin. Class. My Edinburgh martini was served with a twist and a shot of extra vermouth on the side at 10 Euros. Nice.

After that, I was ready to move onto the rum-based Cutback Conquest, which offers the satisfying balance of a well-made sour made more mature and interesting thanks to the Guinness reduction’s bitter beer bite, spiking through the otherwise easy-going cocktail for a pleasant surprise. The rest of the menu also reflects this element of the unexpected or a juxtaposition of sorts: An elegant un-refinedness, if you will (as opposed to an unrefined IMG_2888elegance). This classy kitsch works perfectly for a tiki bar. With its ass-kicking punches poured into over the top ceramic mugs, tiki, by nature is not a subtle cocktail culture. But a truly good tiki drink can celebrate both its fun factor as well as showcase something more interesting and complex – and that’s where Dirty Dick is going.

The menu features 17 cocktails with a good mix of classics and house creations, mainly based (of course) on rum, but with other options including vodka, tequila, whiskey, etc.  Lighthearted descriptions don’t divulge everything, but instead evoke a feeling or idea. Prices range from 6 to 14 Euros, based roughly on the amount of liquor in your libation; while the Ba-Tiki-Da at 6 Euros has about 5 centiliters of booze, the Slurricane at 14 Euros has close to 12 (watch out!).

IMG_3121Additionally, they offer up three convivial punch bowls for sharing that sound both fun and deadly like the Amazombie, based on the original Zombie, which promises to turn the “living into dead,” or the She Sells Sea Shells sold in a conch shell. And it just gets better with a selection of over 52 different rums on the shelf. Also of note, they are open 7/7 and have a well-ventilated smoking room in the back.

Dirty Dick shows that this group of bars and its associated staff have the know-how to put together a worthy watering hole and have managed to make a classy tiki joint without losing personality or credibility. Two thumbs up. The only problem is that now that another new great drinking destination has opened up in the area, I’ve just moved to a new neighborhood. So, I just keep reminding myself that “Change is good, right?” … and fortunately, my new place is on a direct metro line to Dirty Dick.

Shellfish Cocktail Adventures: the Mary Celeste

mc 005Mary Celeste
1 rue Commines
75003 Paris

mc 004I’ve been talking a lot lately about Paris turning a new cocktail page and coming out ahead of trends rather than bowing to them. And once again, the group behind the Candelaria provides a very fine example of just that with their third venture, a restaurant and bar, which showcases their ability to come up with fresh fare.

While I love a low-light lounge or a dark divey bar, the open, airy and light space that is the Mary Celeste brightens the bar scene with something new. Large windows let in plenty of light to the main floor, which features a friendly island bar. A downstairs area, where the tiny kitchen is located, handles the runoff from the main floor.

mc 011Owners, Josh, Adam & Carina, have put together a topnotch international team, including notable barman Carlos Madriz (previously of l’Hotel) and Chef Haan Palcu-Chang (previously of Le Verre Volé as well as Europe’s only Michelin-starred Thai restaurant.)   Palcu-Chang’s creative small plates -including offerings like homemade Kimchee which demonstrate his passion for Asian cuisine – are available from 7pm onwards.  But, from 5pm to 7pm, it’s “Oyster Happy Hour” with fresh terroir-focused oysters at a buck a bivalve! The oysters, served alongside tasty, crisp flat bread and Palcu-Chang’s mignonette, which incorporates coriander and a bit of heat, were delicious enough to convince me to indulge in them two nights in a row. I’m digging both the oyster concept and the fact that they open earlier than most bars.  But, we’re here to talk cocktails…

mc 007My first experience was an opening night event, and the place was packed with friends and fans of the group enjoying free Brooklyn pours, beer cocktails and oysters at happy hour prices.  My Oliver’s Twist exemplifies Carlos’ innate talent for creating well balanced cocktails with the Brooklyn lager, Rabarbaro, lemon and Tabasco bringing a successful combination of sweet, bitter, sour and heat that stands up to the oysters and their accompanying mignonette.  As I sipped and slurped, the sounds of the Steve Miller band on vinyl filled the air thanks to the vintage Lenco turntable. Sweet!

I returned the following night for Oyster Happy Hour to see how some of their cocktails stacked up to the tasty sea creatures. Carlos mc 012suggested a Dear Apollonia (grappa, Manzanilla sherry & crème de peche) as something that would please a martini-loving palette. Not only does that describe my palette, but a martini can be an ideal pairing with oysters. I know that just the mention of grappa can make the un-initiated tremble. However, the quality of the spirit and the addition of the crème de peche make for a lighter more approachable drink that works for newbies as well as more experienced cocktail drinkers. Plus, considering the mignonette, it’s a better pairing with these oysters than a straightforward martini.

I progressed to a Nord Sud, which was eliciting praise from a fellow drinker and shows off a nice balance of apple brandy, sherry fino, homemade grenadine and citrus.  I finished with the Dottore Cipriano, made with herby vermouth, mescal and enough amero to make it interesting without overpowering. And the smokey touch of the mescal made it a perfect and somehow comforting finish to this trio.

mc 015While plenty of people will go for the Single Ladies (Absolut, muscadet syrup and lemon), the menu of 10 or so cocktails at 12 Euros proves a nice vehicle for introducing customers to less common ingredients like ameros, vermouths and sherries. Carlos explained that they are going for more aperitif-style cocktails that veer more towards something delicate than in-your-face. They also feature beers from Brooklyn Brewery and a selection of natural wines. And I hear that Simon will be heading over to cover on Carlos’ days off, which means the Mary Celeste packs serious talent behind the stick seven nights a week.

I suspect that the combination of the more lighthearted approach to the decor and drinks and the trust-inspiring integrity of this group when it comes to scrutinizing the quality of ingredients, means this venture will appeal to a wider audience without compromising the quality that hardcore foodies and cocktillians demand. The Mary Celeste is a breath of fresh air, well worth a detour and I look forward to many more Happy Hours at the bar.

70′s Glam Cocktail Adventures: le Coq

IMG_0257le Coq
12 Rue du Château-d’Eau
75010 Paris

The brains behind le Coq have more than enough cocktail cred to make a bar work on their names alone.  Local industry experts, Thierry Daniel and Eric Fossard have teamed up with cocktail maestro Tony Conigliaro of 69 Colebrooke Row. They’ve brought along Marcis Dzelzainis from London to oversee the show. And pros like these are more used to defining trends than chasing them, so it’s no surprise that the bar steers clear of the status quo.

IMG_0066While so many bars make nods to prohibition and its speakeasies, le Coq looks towards a different decade for inspiration: the 70’s. And, its location on a 10eme arrondisement backstreet, rock chic deco and stark black walls give bit of illicit edge.

My initial encounter with le Coq was an opening night party.  The place was packed with industry names itching to get a glimpse of this highly anticipated venture… plus one actual live coq.  Conversations and cocktails flowed and enthusiasm was high.  I then followed up a few nights later to get a better feel for the full offering.

IMG_0268While classics can be made on command, the regular menu features a dozen drinks that riff of classics as well as show off Tony’s cocktail savvy. Some ingredients are created off site in his London based lab but a fair few focus on French additions from the common (cognac) to the forgotten (liqueur d’ambrette.) In talking to the team members, I hear a real enthusiasm for the local cocktail culture and its possibilities.  Rather than recreating Tony’s popular London bars here, they’re working in conjunction with local trends, tastes and products to come up with something uniquely Parisian. And while they could command higher prices given their rep, they keep it at a cool 11 Euros per drink.

IMG_0253As for Tony’s famous Dry Martini made with Beefeater gin, Martini Dry and a distillation of tannins and polyphenols for a drier mouth feel, I can attest that the quality here is just as good as the ones I’ve sampled at his London location. The house French 75 incorporates grapefruit infused gin and a dash of absinthe that play nicely in this classic.  Other inviting options include the nicely balanced Fig Leaf Collins with its gin, lemon juice and fig leaf syrup.  And while my current crazy schedule means I haven’t worked my way through the entire menu yet, I’m planning on making more headway this weekend.

Beyond the bar, the group is also introducing more interesting events like Tony’s recent cocktail and food pairing with dining darling, le Dauphin. The menu included the same cocktail served in two different glasses to highlight the changes their shape make to the nuances of flavor…because those are the kinds of discoveries Tony likes to share.

IMG_0259With its brash attitude, cool rock soundtrack and unique style, Le Coq is not your typical cocktail lounge. Some of the city’s speakeasy-style habitués may be surprised by this abrupt about face on the bar scene, but I take it as a sign that Paris has reached a point where its unafraid to assert some personality.  Le Coq shows us that the big boys have come out to play in Paris.  And they seem to be setting out not just to make their own mark on the capital’s cocktail scene but to make a French mark on cocktail culture.

Alternative Cocktail Adventures: Little Red Door

Little Red Door
60 Rue Charlot
75003 Paris

It’s been a busy few months.  Between a few weeks of holiday and other fun stuff like openings, social events, cocktail competitions and interesting interviews the blog writing had to take backseat for a few weeks.  But, I’m back and ready to spill on some of the city’s new spots, like Little Red Door, where I met up with Kasia recently for some taste testing.

Just past the friendly doorman, you’ll find a whimsically miniature red door.  While most guests will slip into this seductive space via the normal sized door to the left, apparently a select few regulars will be given the keys to this mini-entrance. With discrete attitude, LRD sticks to the speakeasy style prevalent within Paris’ recent cocktail scene but amps it up with some stylish detail.  These days, it’s not unusual to see lovely glassware or bitters decanted in simple bottles on a bar top.  However, here the furniture has been handpicked and imported from London and the light fixtures specifically designed for the space. But the pieces de resistances are the plush velvet barstools, which are not so much stools as impossibly comfortable armchairs. Dim lighting, various levels and intimate groupings of chic chairs and sofas make it a sexy little space for small groups or a quiet couples night out.

With Romain, previously of the Experimental Cocktail Club, and Ben behind the bar, drinks are made with TLC.  On my first visit, the menu was not yet finalized, so I started with a nicely prepared No. 3 martini. However, the other orders better exemplify the team’s skill at gently encouraging patrons to try something just a little different. Since Kasia had been considering a dark and stormy, Ben suggested an alternative with smoky whisky and ginger beer. Her hubby ordered up a cacacha based sangree, which he’d been turned onto as an alternative to a caipi on a prior night.  Like their drinks, their spirits selection veers away from the mainstream and they pride themselves on ‘high-quality and specialized’ spirits.

I returned later for the opening night party and launch of first menu. At the time the choice included five drinks based on a range of high-end spirits and quality ingredients with enough variety to appeal to a range of tastes. The cocktail menu will change on a regular basis with a continued focus on creating unique cocktails.  The team will also be working with an aromaticien in developing interesting profiles for their creations.

For non-cocktail drinkers, LRD’s wine places a special focus on Languedocs and their selection of artisanal beer comes from Cave a Bulles. They have plans to bring in food, which will be a nice addition.  With barstools as comfortable as these, customers will need something to accompany a full evening’s worth of cocktails.

Overall, it’s a nice space, with well-made drinks going for standard Paris cocktail prices, of 12 to 13 Euros.  While I like the fact that some of the city’s latest bars are dropping cocktail prices slightly, LRD is doing enough to justify these prices. And bonus: with some of my other cocktails favs like Candelaria, le Coq, l’Entrée des Artistes and Grazie within reasonable walking distance, this little corner of the city is shaping up as a great place for a cocktail crawl.

On tap Cocktail Adventures: Glass

Glass
7 rue Frochot
75009

What really makes a bar successful? To answer that, let’s look to Adam, Carina and Josh. Since opening the wildly popular Candelaria, they’ve garnered a loyal following and achieved international industry recognition. There is no question this trio and their team have the necessary cocktail know how. But to keep their barstools busy in an increasingly competitive cocktail environment, they add a little something extra: heart and soul. And, they’ve proved this by opening a second bar that combines pertinent cocktail trends with their own special sauce for something that’s decidedly different from what we’ve been seeing in the city: Glass.

When Glass opened its doors at 10pm on Wednesday, there was already a crowd of customers, friends and well-wishers lining the sidewalk to get a glimpse. Within minutes the place was packed and staff were pumping out drinks. While this was of course lots of fun, to really get a good idea of what’s happening here, I returned early evening the next day. I roped Emma into joining me after running into her at the Don Lee vodka infusion master class at La Conserverie – mainly because I like her company, but a little selfishly, too, as I knew it would provide the opportunity to taste more drinks.

Glass is going the dive bar route and have, appropriately, set up shop in the gentrifying yet still somewhat sketchy area of Pigalle (also dangerously close to my apartment.) I think a true dive bar comes to life organically over time and not necessarily with the intent of doing so.  I love a good dive and on entering Glass, one might see just that.  But what I see is a bar that’s retained some of the best qualities of a dive (lower prices, laid back attitude, lack of pretention) infused with some of that aforementioned heart and soul.  The small space with its matte black walls is down to earth and casual.  But, on closer inspection, you discover the elements that make it their own: cast iron lampshades from Japan or custom made acid-washed mirror tabletops from Barcelona. They’re still putting the finishing touches on the deco and will be bringing in a local artist to paint the floor something fun and vibrant.

The lack of pretention extends to the menu. The aim is to deliver quality drinks faster and at slightly lower prices as well as incorporating more than just cocktails.  As many of the city’s cocktail spots are eschewing a selection of beer, here you’ll find a wide variety of unusual choices and a section devoted to beer and shot pairings like the Belle & Sebastian (Brewdog 5AM Saint + Monkey Shoulder.) Serious beer lovers can even take a growler of beer to go.

But, we’re here about the cocktails, aren’t we? Glass is the first bar in Paris to bring in trends that have been brewing elsewhere for awhile, like frozen drinks machines that slosh out something above and beyond a mediocre margarita, two cocktails on tap, and a premixed G&T by the bottle. There are an additional four choices in the shaken and stirred category and plans to bring in a reserve menu as they do in Candelaria.
I had already tried and enjoyed a Martinez on tap opening night, so I bored them with my usual request this visit. The spirits selection is small but conscientious. I was torn between taking Beefeater or Monkey 47 for my martini – two very different gins & moods (apparently I  was all over the board last night.) When I mentioned this to Sam at the bar, she immediately suggested a dry Monkey 47 with a grapefruit zest. This is why I like these guys: they know and like their products.  Whether or not it’s to your liking may vary, but she gave me a good suggestion and I took it and liked it. I’ll skip the part about the chilled glasses, proper preparation and fresh ingredients because I think we’ve come to expect that with this crew.

Between Emma and I, we sampled a good selection of the rest of the menu, including:

Frozen Pisco Punch: I dig that they’re bringing in frozen machine drinks and delivering something more than the usuals.  They do a nice job with this one. I don’t personally drink a lot of frozen cocktails because they give me ice cream headaches and they’re usually poorly made. (Although that’s not the case here, so perhaps I could just try drinking more slowly)

Remember the Maine: In addition to the Martinez, this is their other tap option.  I really like it, although the punt e mes gives it a bitter kick that might surprise the uninitiated.

Bottled Gin and Tonic: I’m not a huge tonic drinker and am kind of fussy about it when I do go there. But Sam is making tonic in-house and doing a fab job of it.  And, they’re using Citadelle, which I think is a perfect choice for a G&T (as opposed to a martini for which I will generally choose something else.) Of note, the gin comes in the bottle with a straw, which means no ice.

As of Saturday, they’ll be bringing in simple food: organic 100% beef hotdogs and home made pickles.  I was tickled to find that the buns and pickles are coming from the kick-ass culinary team of Emperor Norton (as well as a garnish or two). Additionally, we’re going to see a fun new bar opening soon just across the street.

So, keep your eye on this space; with the lively Kremlin and Rock’n’Roll Circus just steps away, Pigalle is becoming a perfect metro stop for a rollicking good time bar crawl. I always hammer home about good cocktails, but past posts have shown my interest in the growing popularity of Pigalle, a fun dive, and the return to a goodtime in cocktails. Glass embodies all of those things.  I’ll admit, it’s not a bar for everyone.  But, that’s what makes it great: it’s a bar with personality and if you like that kind of thing, like me, you’ll love it. Glass will be a hit for a long time to come because they’ve made a hard-earned reputation for themselves.  But if you go beyond the buzz and look for that heart and soul, you’ll really understand what makes this place special.

ECC Alum Cocktail Adventures: Sherry Butt

Sherry Butt
20 rue Beautreillis
75004 Paris

2005, NYC: Audrey Saunders opens the Pegu Club at a time when gin has fallen out of favor and makes a significant impact on the classic cocktail revival, playing a role in revitalizing an unfashionable spirit and providing a playground for many a good barman who subsequently move on to establish some of the world’s best cocktail spots. (Jim Meehan, PDT; Toby Maloney, Violet Hour.)

2012: As Paris catches up with its contemporaries on a cocktail level, we’re seeing a similar spawn and spread from a central establishment here. The ECC group has employed some topnotch talent, who have since left the nest to create their own successful cocktail destinations such as Candelaria and l’Entrée des Artists, both of which are opening highly anticipated second bars soon. And, Sherry Butt, the latest creation from ECC protégés Cathleen and Amaury (previously of Curio and Px), shows us a new round of Paris bar staff breaking out on their own.

I stopped into Sherry Butt with Thibaut, a few days after their recent opening, to see what these kids were up to. The space is good. Stylishly comfortable sofas allow for plenty of seating around distressed coffee tables. High ceilings, hard wood floors and stone walls provide character without being too elaborate, and multiple mirrors open the space up. The bar itself is pleasingly simple with a focus on the large glass refrigerator – nice touch. They’ve managed to maintain a lounge feel but achieved a brighter, lighter and fresher ambience thanks to the window ceiling. It’s also a space that’s conducive to the occasional DJ, which they’ll be bringing in.

The front page of the menu features whisky flights, with four suggested selections plus an option to create your own. For cocktails, you’ve got eleven creations at 12 to 13 Euros each based on a good range of spirits (with brands specified on the menu) and featuring a lot of syrups made on site, including a Champagne one (which I found interesting.) I started with my usual and got a very nice Sipsmith/Dolin stirred martini with a twist and a good proportion of vermouth to gin. Gin selection includes Old Raj, Hayman’s, Junipero, Hendrick’s, Plymouth, Tanqueray Ten, Broker’s. Thibaut had the Hustler Negroni (gin, Campari, amaro, dry vermouth, Ferrand dry curacao, and dandelion bitters). I like a good negroni so my initial thought at reading all of those ingredients was is might be a bit fussy for my taste. But, it was good with an appetite-whetting bitter bite.

I followed up with the La Pibole (Rittenhouse, dry curacao, byrrh, and Peychauds), which was pleasant and exemplifies a continuing trend of incorporating old-school French aperitifs into cocktails. While some of these can result in unfamiliar or bitter flavors making them a harder sell, I enjoy them so I’m happy to see them continuing to crop up. (I also like the name because it sounds like “L’Happy Bowl” – a little bowl of happiness. However, I don’t believe this was the intention and it adds nothing to this review. Welcome to my inner world with its running commentary) Ice water is served alongside drinks, which the American in me much appreciates. Although having lived in France for a decade, I’m also used to bar snacks accompanying my apero and think it would be a good touch here, even if it were just pretzels.

I wasn’t surprised to find that the drinks are nice here. Given the experience and skills of the bunch behind it, I expect it. What I am a little worried about are the prices. Now don’t get me wrong: these are fair prices for cocktails. They are in line with lots of other cocktail stops in town. And, that’s what’s concerning: there are many more cocktail options in town these days and I think new places must now work even harder to differentiate themselves. Also, they are somewhat close to bar-heavy Bastille area where a (generally mediocre) cocktail can be had for a fiver.

What could make them really stand out are their plans for a limited bar menu of small plates. Given the success of places like Grazie and Candelaria with their combo of cocktails plus straightforward but really good food (pizza, tacos) and considering the popularity of some of the city’s newer wine bars featuring fabulous small plates (Frenchie, Verjus), I think Sherry Butt would do well to move in this direction. I don’t think there’s really a cocktail bar at the moment seriously doing a successful hybrid of good tapas and cocktails. I also think that would bring in an earlier evening crowd.

So if you find yourself near Bastille, do yourself a favor and skip the crap cocktails at cut-rate prices and give Sherry Butt a try. They are off to a promising start and, if they focus on reading their early customer base and adapt and react as necessary, they could assert quite a personality. They grow up so fast, don’t they?