32 rue Cler
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.
Late 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.
While 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….
L’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!