14 Rue Hautefeuille
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.
First 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.
My 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.
The 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.