Admittedly, I have my vices. However, sweets aren’t one of them. I’m by no means a chocoholic and can easily pass up the dessert cart for any cheese plate. So while I wouldn’t trek across town to check out a chocolatière, this Pierre Cluizel spot piqued my interest. First, blogger buzz brought it to my attention. Then I got an email from the friendly Claire over at Cognac Ferrand suggesting I try their cocktails. And, finally I read this post which mentioned (among other pertinent things, of course) the size of the barman’s waist. Wouldn’t you be curious?
I was. So, I set off to un Dimanche a Paris for an early evening drink (the lounge opens at 4pm) to assess both the barman and his skills with Heather and David as my cohorts. The first floor of this slick, bright chocolate concept store houses the shop, restaurant and tearoom. Upstairs is the laid back lounge with its blond wood floors and comfortable jewel tone sofas and chairs which invite lingering. The highlight in the center is a portion of the over 800 year old Philippe August tower showcased behind plexiglass.
The second highlight was the charmingly good-looking barman, Mikael who greeted us and gave the rundown. All of their cocktails include chocolate and are served slightly warmer than usual to allow appreciation of its flavor in the drink. Instead of offering a set menu, Mikael determines customers’ likes and dislikes to create custom cocktails based on their tastes. And, he’s more than just an pleasantly animate cocktail menu – he’s also got some big names on his C.V. having previously worked abroad for both Alain Ducasse and Joel Robuchon.
My first cocktail was a martini-themed mixture of Potocki vodka, Combier eau de vie de cacao, chocolate and orange bitters and a housemade mixture of cocoa and Sichuan pepper. I don’t do chocolate martinis, but this was a step above the overly sweet choc-tails normally served and the peppery addition was a nice touch. Round two was a combo of tequila, grapefruit, Campari, orange and chocolate bitters. Unfortunately, I didn’t take notes on the cocktails he made for the others, but if I remember correctly, there was fruit involved. There are some interesting additions to the small bar stock that you won’t find in many bars, like the Monkey 47.
You definitely won’t get a standard martini or Manhattan here. What makes this bar stand out is the one-on-one interaction. Mikael is clearly enthusiastic about his work and takes pride in creating something unique for the clientele. In response to a few questions about Combier, he brought it out with a bottle of Cointreau alongside for us to taste the difference. David even scored a little bottle of Cointreau Cuisine to take home for a bit of cooking fun. We also got to sample a few of the sweets. Fortunately, the bar is quiet enough to allow for this kind of more personal dialogue with the customer. Although, as I’ve mentioned before, I do think that bars with no menus should have some indication of pricing, so customers have an idea of what they’re in for. In this case, you’re in for about 15 Euros a cocktail.
So, while I’m more of a cheese than chocolate girl, this is an interesting deviation from the standard cocktail fare for sophisticated sippers with a sweet tooth.
*update: Mikael is no longer working the bar here and is currently over at Flute
** update: The bar is now closed – the shop & restaurant are still open.