The Art Room
13 rue Tiquetonne
The newly opened Art Room is a fashion dandy’s dream with three floors of carefully calculated frivolity. The main floor is a glossy black cube with films projected on the walls, reproduction chairs and super-stylish chandeliers. From there, you can take a seat upstairs in the miniscule loft or head downstairs where flash meets fashion in a mixture of sequined walls, simple white pod chairs and antique accents. They clearly have an aesthetic in mind and manage to successfully marry different styles to create their own unique statement. This extends to the bar stock as well, where bottles seem to be displayed by design rather than content resulting in a curio cabinet feel. Alongside the spirits are tinctures, bitters, sprays and decanters of various shapes and sizes holding house recipes like cinnamon and gold leaf infused vodka.
The barman has a high-end hotel background so is presumably familiar with the standards. However, their menu focuses on their sixteen house creations which are named only by number: Secret No. 1, Secret No. 2, etc. Yet they even manage to make their mark on the classics as my martini came with a spray of rosemary essence. The Secret series of cocktails have a concept feel which is emphasized by the byline accompanying each one such as “La Resurrection Scandaleuse”
One of the owners explained that they are focusing on fresh ingredients and creating cocktails influenced by French culinary culture rather than just following today’s mixology trends. This results in a menu focused on fresh ingredients and homemade infusions, which I appreciate. The downside is that there is some inconsistency in the nuances of each cocktail. I love the elegant simplicity of No. 15 (Champagne and rose, with rosebuds floats) but there are too many ingredients fighting for front and center in the bright blue No. 7 (Gin, ginger, blue curacao, passion fruit pearls and lime.) No. 10 will please casual clientele, but I could use a bigger whiskey kick in it to make it a more interesting cocktail. And, I’m curious about the more adventurous No. 6 with rhum, apple, black tea, cloves and cinnamon served warm with a beetroot cube.
I respect the philosophy of fresh ingredients and unique cocktails, but I think they need to tweak the menu just slightly so that each Secret shines rather than having a handful of standouts to justify 16 to 18 Euros a drink. At those prices customers must to be willing to splash out the cash for the ultra-cool scene rather than just the drinks.