Aviation inspired Paris Cocktail Adventures: L’oiseau Blanc at the Peninsula Hotel

Paris viewsL’oiseau Blanc bar of the Peninsula Hotel
19 Avenue Kléber
Paris 75116

Let’s try something a little different around here. As most of you know, I’ve been busy with The Chamber activities, various freelance writing gigs, the usual fun with friends and a few other 52-related projects that I really need to finish up. Also, it seems like people are spending less time reading long posts and more time looking at quick pictures and summaries. So, I’m moving to a shorter and more factual format on a trial basis. This means I’ll be getting back to more regular posts. Like this one for the L’oiseau Blanc…

martini and fruit cocktailsThe luxury hotel Peninsula has made Paris its European point of entry, introducing a few new drinking and dining options to the city. The rooftop restaurant and bar, L’oiseau Blanc, was named after the French plane that attempted to make the first non-stop flight from Paris to New York in 1927 but mysteriously disappeared. Fittingly, the bar is kitted out with aviation themed decor and old pictures of the airplane. It offers up a 360 degree few of Paris in a sophisticated and staid space. The drinks menu features around a dozen drinks ranging from appropriate classics (Aviation, anyone?) to twists on classics like their Take Off (gin, sweet vermouth and bitters). Here you’ll find the excellent service and hush hush feel that high-end hotels are known for. But the big draw? The spectacular terrace with to-die-for views. But go early as I have a feeling they keep a lot of those seats reserved for hotel guests.

Cocktails: B
Service: A
Ambience: B-
Cocktail Prices: 22 – 25 Euros

Now that you’ve had a little taste of the possible direction I’ll be taking the posts, do weigh in and let me know what you think of this approach.

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.

SoCal Cocktail Adventures: le Depanneur

IMG_6639

le Depanneur
27 Rue Pierre Fontaine
75009 Paris

IMG_6630When le Depanneur opened a few decades back as a late night “American” joint it served cheap drinks and pulled in a post club crowd.  After a brief closure, its recent reopening generated a high level of expectation thanks to the people and places involved.  Nightlife power player Olivier Demarle brought in the culinary creativity of Cantine California, the designer responsible for the Candelaria and Mary Celeste, and mixologist Benjamin Chiche previously of le Carmen and le 25eme Heure.  Put all this talent together in a locale that already has a historical following in one of the city’s hip ‘hoods and there’s bound to be some expectations.

IMG_6633The new le Depanneur still has some of the same feel while brightening things up and aiming for a somewhat SoCal style. Windows running the length of the walls let in a pleasant cross breeze. Lighter wood booths and beams provide a casual feel that works well with the strategically placed potted cacti. And the shiny metal exterior trim with rounded corners gives a retro touch worthy of the American diners that inspired the original.

Behind the bar, Benjamin has developed a menu of a dozen 12 Euros cocktails, each with Cali-inspired names like Mission Cup or Pasadena Peligrosa.  Half are based on Calle 23 tequila and the remainders represent a mix of other base spirits. I’m familiar with his style and practice of creating custom cocktails so I was confident ordering my standard. Gin choices include Tanqueray, Tanqueray 10, Hayman’s Sloe Gin, Hayman’s Old Tom, Mare, Hendrick’s, Monkey 47 and the Botanist.  I enjoyed a 4 to 1, Tanqueray/Dolin, rolled, with a twist. Benjamin believes that – after performing side-IMG_6629by-side tests – rolling is superior to stirring as it better aerates the drink.  While I haven’t done similar tests to form my own opinion, I appreciate someone who forms their own based on experience and experimentation.

Next, I took an Alta Vista Tomy, which follows the trend of incorporating cool cucumber with a bit of heat for a refreshing combo with a bite. The multiple ingredients (Tequila, Mezcal, lime juice, Piment d’espellette syrup, Aperol and cucumber) are each discernible in the drink and play together nicely. On a subsequent visit I tried the North Park Julep, which was well presented, but less interesting to me. It IMG_6635was sweeter than I expected with less of the strength that I’m used to in a Julep. Of note, the heat wave was happening when I visited so the lack of punch could have been due to the ice melting faster and more dilution than usual.

I think it could be interesting for their menu to incorporate a cocktail with fewer ingredients and a slightly lower price (G&T, anyone?). With some of the recently opened bars working a broader range of prices (Moonshiner or Dirty Dick, for example) and the competition from le Mansart across the street, I think the safety net of a simple cocktail under a tenner could be a smart option. They also devote a good part of the menu to tequilas, which are sold by the shot, glass or bottle. Although it looks like they still may need some time for the actual stock to catch up with what’s listed on the menu.

IMG_6765In keeping with the current burger craze and under the direction of one of the city’s more popular food trucks, Cantine California, they’re featuring burgers, chips and guac, and tacos. I tried the Cali’Classic and the Dude (which I preferred.) As I’m mainly here about the cocktails, I won’t spend a lot of time talking food.  But I have heard a very wide range of opinions on the burgers so far, which demonstrates a couple of things: 1. Everyone has their opinion on what makes a better burger 2. The danger of high expectations is that it’s hard for any hamburger to live up to the hype.

Something I’ve noticed about Demarle establishments is that they seem to vary in quality at times. Having visited their other ventures (le Secret, le Magnifique, Café Chic, La Villa), I’ve found some great, some lacking and some that swing between the two depending on the staff at the time.  Perhaps this is because they hire well-known professionals to consult on the concept (for example: Colin Field consulting on their le Magnifique menu) but lack some consistency in the follow up.

So, I hope that with this latest, he will be able to consistently capitalize on Benjamin’s cocktail skills and get more consistent reviews on the burgers. But, considering the buzz its already generated and its hipster SoPi location, they will have no problem consistently packing in a good crowd.

Swanky Cocktail Adventures: Bistrologist

IMG_3777

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.

 

 

Convivial Cocktail Adventures: l’Eclair

photo credit: l'Eclair FB page

photo credit: l’Eclair FB page

l’Eclair
32 rue Cler
75007 Paris

Remember when I mentioned that 52 Martinis was going to be available soon in French over at Alambic? It took a bit of time to find someone who was up to translating “forest-speak” into French speak.  And when they did, Sebastian and I got together at l’Eclair for (what else?) a cocktail and to meet my 52 Martinis French counterpart, Sophie.

IMG_2281Late last year, l’Eclair popped up on the cute cobblestone street, rue Cler, which is better known for its markets than mixology. On first glance, it appears to be just another typical Paris cafe, with a busy terrace, strategically distressed decor and a lively crowd of young frenchies chatting over cheap glasses of wine.  But, there’s more to this spot than initially meets the eye.

Firstly, the gin selection hints at something a bit more ambitious than the usual with Beefeater, Beefeater 24, Plymouth, Plymouth Navy and Hendricks.  While that might not be enough to endlessly entertain serious ginhounds, it’s surely a step beyond the typical terrace offerings.

The menu, as well, offers something a bit more than you might expect with a dozen cocktails for a tenner of enough variety to please a range of patrons from the easily accessible Basil Power (apple aromatized vodka, fresh basil, strawberry puree & syrup) to something that takes a bit more of an acquired taste like the house negroni.  Additionally they feature four Havana rum based tiki drinks and three “Decadence Martinis” such as the Porn Star Martini and its accompanying shooter of champagne.

IMG_2284While I would have liked a choice of garnish and possibly a colder glass, my Beefeater martini with olives was well-made and a nice surprise in such unassuming circumstances – and further proof that a better kind of cocktail continues to infiltrate more mainstream bar culture.  Sebastian’s 666 (Jim Beam Devil’s Cut, Saint Germain, honey citrus) and Sophie’s tiki drink were nicely presented and well enough made. The tiki felt light in alcohol, but these kinds of drinks can tend to be sneaky in this way.

They feature a fun selection of food like big burgers alongside crispy fries wrapped in newspaper print or croque monsieur’s made with bread from organic bakery, Moisan.  We opted for a platter Viande de Grisons from Davoli as we moved onto our next round, which showcased where the interest really lies….

IMG_2298L’Eclair offers four different shareable cocktails in 1 litre batches, which of course we had to try.  Our Kentucky Lemonade Pitcher (Maker’s Mark, fresh mint, syrup, lemon and ginger ale) arrived in a heavy metal Maker’s Mark branded pitcher with matching julep tins packed with plenty of crushed ice and fresh mint. The drink could have easily served a table of six, making it a good deal at 30 Euros. Other options include the Pernod Green Beast, served in a special Pernod cage or the more pedestrian Sangria.

Overall, the selection at l’Eclair is above average. While cocktillians might not find any surprises on the menu, customers will find that they are serving some atypically fun fair for a fairly typical café. If you’re looking to share some sips and nibbles with good company as we were, it’s a very handy address to have.

And since our visit a few months ago, Sophie has translated a ton of my posts and now moved on to continue her studies. So, a big thanks to her for all her hard work – she’ll be a tough translation act to follow!

 

 

20’s Boudoir Cocktail Adventures: Très Honoré Bar

x 647Très Honoré Bar
35 Place du Marché Saint-Honoré
Paris 75001

Two of my favorite things: catching up with good friends and checking out new venues. So, when Dec and Cliodhna were back in town briefly after a few years’ stint in Abu Dhabi, I was more than happy to do both. Considering their time in a region not particularly known for bars, I was looking for a location with wow factor. I settled on the Très Honoré Bar after hearing about its 20’s boudoir glam and checking out some online pics. Yet, when we arrived, I wondered if we were in the right place. Outside is a pretty basic terrace and inside is a hyper-designed restaurant, which feels somewhat dated.  We caught up over so so steaks and wine and I still wondered what the fuss was all about.

x 660That was until after dinner when made our way to the downstairs bar, which was much more in line with my expectations. While this large lounge can easily hold a hundred, it still offers an air of intimacy with nooks and alcoves packed with comfortable arm chairs, candlelit coffee tables and heavy drapes. The ladies’ offers up two loos in the same room, so you can gossip with the girls literally nonstop. Dim lighting and an eclectic assortment of choice pieces like the grand piano, vintage prints and framed insects give it a bit of elegance with attitude. Sexy wait staff with just a pinch of the expected attitude themselves make the rounds with menus.

x 642Twelve cocktails are divided between classics (like the bijou or pisco sour) and house creations at 12 to 15 Euros.  Cliodhna and I went off menu with a nicely done martini and old fashioned. There was a bit too much sugar in the bottom of her glass for her taste, but I don’t mind a bit of sweet grit in my old fashioned. I couldn’t place the gin and later found out it was Seagram’s, which I haven’t had for years. Although it’s owned by French company Pernod-Ricard, it doesn’t seem to show up in most of the bars I frequent here, and I associate it much more with US gin drinking habits. (Seagram’s 7 and 7, anyone?) Otherwise, nothing too unusual with the other gins on offer of Bombay Sapphire, Hendrick’s and Tanqueray. I followed up with a Très Honoré (Jack Daniels, Chambord, white peach puree, fresh mint, and lime juice.)  With its very particular taste, Jack can be a touchy spirit to mix with. However, peach seems a natural pairing for it and the Jack came through nicely without being masked by too much sweetness. We tried a few more, but I must admit that note taking fell by the wayside as Cliodhna and I caught up. But, in general it seems they are making a decent drinks effort.

x 652The night of our visit was pleasantly quiet with just a few other patrons having hushed conversations in other corners. However, its past associations (previous location for the George V group’s Barlotti as well as for last year’s Cointreau Privé pop up), the large floor space and its fashionable address, make it prime real estate for larger and busier events and evenings. And, indeed they were (are?) hosting the Trenty’s soirees and a few weeks after my first visit I returned again for a magazine launch.  The x 653night of the launch was not as enjoyable: it was hot, crowded and a twenty minute wait at a bar that wasn’t serving cocktails. But, based on my prior pleasant enough experience, I’m going to hope that was a due to the event organizers rather than the bar itself.

In short, the space is glamorous and they’re making an effort with the cocktails.  It’s the type of place that has the potential to pull in everyone from the fashionably understated to the fashion victims, so probably best to time your visit accordingly. But, on my visit with Dec and Cli, I had an enjoyable night.  Was it the company or the cocktails? Probably a bit of both, so I wouldn’t hesitate head back and see how things shake out here.

Chalet Cocktail Advantures: Park Hyatt Christmas Terrace

Park Hyatt
5 Rue de la Paix
75002 Paris

I’m all about the holiday spirit this year.  I’ve been going to Christmas markets, gazing at the lights and wrapping pressies with glee. So the Park Hyatt’s temporary terrace chalet seemed like the perfect spot for a seasonal sip.

From now until 5 January, this swank hotel has converted its lovely terrace into winter-wonderland complete with Christmas trees, a bit of faux snow and a mini-chalet.   The Park Hyatt has been known for pricey nice cocktails and the current menu is no exception. In addition to ten or so house cocktails, they’re featuring 7 seasonal cocktails from 24 to 26 Euros.

While I enjoyed a Ms Ho (pisco, sloeberry gin, orange juice, sauvignon syrup and ginger ale), it lacks a bit of strength and nuance that I look for so it might be a better choice for a better choice for those seeking something sweet and/or fruity.  However, I loved Jane’s Smash in Paris with Applejack and rhubarb bitters, served as a julep.  When drinking outdoors on cool winter nights, it may seem counterintuitive to order a cocktail so packed with crushed ice that the tin cup holding it is developing a frost, but the strength of the drink make it a perfect belly warmer.

Although they have installed heaters to keep customers cozy on chilly nights, it can still get cold enough to necessitate bundling up a bit.  On the evening of our visit they were installing more heaters, which may change that.

The small chalet serves as a shopping space that can hold just a few people at a time (and run by an external vendor.) It’s a cute idea, but I am not loving the products in the shop.  It could use the booste of either very unique products or some kind of theme instead of a random collection not very original candles, stuffed animals, and sparkly make-up bags.

Overall, the Park Hyatt is definitely a spot where you pay to partake.  But if, like me, you want an extra hit of holiday cheer this year, their terrace is a good place to get it.

Corner Cafe Cocktail Adventures: the Pigs

The Pigs
156 avenue Ledru Rollin
75011 Paris

I like the cocktail crowd. I find many bartenders, while enamored with and respectful of their craft, to be an approachable, friendly lot who enthusiastically engage with the less knowledgeable but curious. However, the learning curve for cocktails can be steep and people or establishments can go from friendly amateur to intimidating snob in short order – and some of Paris’ bar crawlers have been complaining of exactly that. Thus the new wave of bars espousing more all-encompassing door policies and easy-going attitudes.  Enter, The Pigs, which has taken cocktail democratization to a whole new level.

On first glance, The Pigs, seems to be a standard café, with a varied customer base filling the box-standard terrace tables while smoking ciggies and sipping demi beers. But, step up to the bar and you’ll find something a little different from the traditional corner bar fare.

The menu includes the usual brews and wines plus a list of 8 or so house creations. There was no dry vermouth, so I ordered an MG Tequila sour from the friendly barman, David, which was nicely prepared with a cheeky sprinkling of Piment d’Espelette. As I was sipping my drink, I watched someone write up the new cocktail menu on a chalkboard, which comprised some rather unusual drinks for a typical Paris café at 7.50 to 9 Euros – including one cocktail with cuttlefish ink!

Turns out the person writing up the new menu was not only one of the owners but a barman I had met previously when he made his debut in Paris at the Silencio bar. After a stint at this ultra-trendy venue, Nadir decided to seriously democratize the Paris cocktail scene and branched out with a friend to open the Pigs. He created a menu, in a low-key, typically French locale, while still employing some sophisticated cocktail practices.  All syrups and sprinkles are made on site, higher quality mixers like Fever Tree are available and cocktails are straw-tasted. Perhaps that last item is not the be all end all, but I got a kick out of seeing that happen in such a popular place.  And, I also enjoyed the juxtaposition of these practices alongside the mixed crowd including twenty-something frenchies ordering half-pints of beer on tap.

In an effort to further bring cocktails to a more approachable level, he’s filled the speed rack with something beyond the bottom shelf without being excessive.  The house rum is Havana Club, tequila is Ocho, whiskey is Jamies, etc. Apparently, his aim is to create cocktails using accessible rather than special ingredients.  However, the back bar – available for customers who want to expand their cocktail knowledge after sampling the mid-range tipples – includes more surprising products like Nikka Whisky and Botanist gin.

Obviously in a place like this, I expected mojitos to the number one ordered drink.  So, of course, I asked if they were.  I was told that when costumers ordered a mojito they were directed back to the menu of house creations – so it’s not a place to order the classics. But according to Nadir, that’s not the aim here.  And, I witnessed this first hand when one of the demi-sipping regulars asked for a Pimm’s Cup (which I also found amusingly out of place in this venue) and Nadir steered him to something else on menu.

Also of interest, the Pigs offers up a lunch menu. But in the evenings they discontinue that for more bar-friendly French fare like rillettes or croustillante de camembert (which was the perfect belly filler for me on a night when I was checking out more than one venue). On the weekends they also do a nicely priced brunch. But, what will probably draw the majority of the locals is their very generous happy hour that includes pastis at 1 Euro!

Overall, I really enjoyed chatting with the folks behind the Pigs.  I like their MO, appreciate their efforts to spread the cocktail love and really dig seeing something more than a few dusty bottles of bottom shelf in a venue of this type. I won’t make this a regular because it’s a bit out of the way for me, but it’s a prime example of how the new scene is affecting Paris and it’s the first place that has really taken a certain level of cocktailing to the common bars.  And for that I say: respect.

 

Cultural Cocktail Adventures: Minipalais at the Grand Palais

Minipalais
avenue Winston Churchill
75008 Paris

One of my besties (and Seattle LUPEC founder), Wendy, came to visit recently. Like me, she’s a bit crazy for both cocktails and cuisine, so we spent several days in a fuzzy food coma. One of our stops was a late afternoon lunch in the much-buzzed Minipalais.

Since being installed in a wing of the Grand Palais, this restaurant and bar has generated some press – notably for its grand terrace. We settled in amongst the enormous and impressive columns of said terrace for our indulgent ladies lunch beginning with what else? A cocktail.

Their menu includes 16 classics (daiquiri, cosmo, manhattan, mint julep, etc.),  6 champagne cocktails (including a negroni sbagliato), and 6 house creations (including a wine-based one) ranging from 13 to 16 Euros. Although there were some interesting choices in the mix and I was hoping for a good drink, I wasn’t expecting excellence due to the location and lunch hour.  While I know some exceptions, I always suspect that restaurant/bar combos save their serious bar staff for evenings when cocktail orders are more likely.

Yet we soldier on.  Wendy’s champagne cocktail came with a dash of cognac.  We’re used to a classic champagne cocktail, but both really enjoyed the extra kick brought about by this variation. The original champagne cocktail has a long history but according to David Wondrich in his book, Imbibe, this “hot rails to hell” practice of adding the cognac was first recorded in 1898.

Enough history. I went for my standard and got a Tanqueray martini with a lemon twist. While I didn’t watch it being made, it was crystal clear and still cold so I’ll assume it was stirred and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality.  While the gin selection offers no surprises, it’s a small offering of solids with Plymouth, Bombay Sapphire, Hendrick’s, Tanqueray and Tanqueray Ten.

Considering it was lunchtime, we moved onto the business of eating. Otherwise, our first round of cocktails would have likely prompted more exploration. If my martini is any indication, this might not be a bad stop for a mixed drink. And, while there is an indoor bar for when the weather turns sour, the terrace is a lovely place to indulge in the last of the lingering summer days. So, check it out for a bit of culture with your cocktails.

Last of the Summer Cocktail Adventures: le Quarante Trois

Quarante Trois, Holiday Inn Notre Dame
4 Rue Danton
75006 Paris

Holiday Inn may not be the first name to spring to mind when it comes to luxury travel.  But they’ve upped their game with their 4 star Notre Dame eco-hotel and topped it off with one of the city’s best rooftop views at their summer terrace bar, le Quarante Trois.

Taking the elevator to the 9th floor to partake in this panorama is not as easy as it might seem. Ample space is on hold for hotel guests and the remaining available spots are usually reserved in advance.  Walk-ins will likely be told the bar is already full, even at 5:30pm midweek.  However, what is lost in spontaneity is more than made up for by their reservations policy.  Unlike some of the city’s other bars with breathtaking views, once reserved here, you’re guaranteed space without long waits, being denied entrance or excessive crowds.

I previously enjoyed the terrace pre-opening for a Cook Me Drink Me event as well as several times for a glass of bubbly, so I was already sold on the view.  But, wanting to check out the regular cocktail menu, I reserved for an early evening to show off the city to some visiting friends.  While they took a Demory beer (7 Euros) and a couple of glasses of Duval Leroy Rose champagne (15 Euros), I took a martini.  Although a good and icy temperature, I was a little disappointed with the lack of garnish and a few small ice chunks floating in it. There are some nice gins on the menu with Haymans, G’Vine, Hendricks, Bols Genever and Monkey 47.

My martini was an off-menu order. What you will find on menu is a choice of 9 cocktails at 15 Euros, which include house creations and modern classics like the Tommy’s Margarita. The majority of the drinks are tequila based with a couple of rum drinks. The cocktails also feature various liqueurs and herbs de Provence. The “Tais Toi Lasse-Moi Faire” (Shut up and let me do it) option gives the pleasant head barman, Mathieu, carte blanche to create a drink for you.

I gave this a shot, with the instructions to the server that I didn’t want anything sweet or fruity.  Admittedly, that leaves a pretty broad range of options. I got a large balloon filled with plenty of ice and a light pink cocktail. My first thought was: greyhound.  But on second sip, I realized there was a touch of rose to it. When I checked in with Mathieu at the bar, he told me there was crème to grapefruit, crème to rose, G’Vine, citrus and tonic. While I might not make this drink for myself, it was an appropriate choice considering my limited instructions and the fact that I had previously ordered a gin martini.

My fellow drinkers felt like this was a better spot for champagne.  Based on Mathieu’s reputation, I’ll go back to try more cocktails. I do appreciate the fact that the menu doesn’t fall back on just vodka-based cocktails and incorporates more than the usual suspects.

Having visited on several occasions since their opening, I’m finding it one of the more enjoyable spots in which to enjoy the sunny days of summer.  So get there to drink in the last of the lovely weather, but do it soon because they close for the season on 29 September. Hopefully there are still spaces left, because it’s a view not to be missed!