I spend a lot of time searching for things under the radar, out of the ordinary; unexpected surprises hidden just beneath the daily grind. It leaves me with a kid-like sense of excitement and adventure to know that there are still secret stairwells to be discovered and insider initiations to be uncovered. In that vein, I’ve long thought more bars should have ‘secret cocktails’ that could be ordered should you happen to find out about their existence. Given that, imagine my delight when the CopperBay team recently invited me down for an exclusive look at their new (drum roll, please…..) Secret Menu!
Now, clients who know about CopperBay’s new hush-hush operation, can confidentially and confidently ask for this mysterious, unmarked, gray menu. There’s only one copy of this original, hand-drawn notebook, which offers three unusual, creative cocktails. So, what differentiates the secret menu from the standard menu? A few things: The presentation is kicked up a notch. There is more of a savory, culinary aspect to this particular trio. They’ll appeal to cocktail geeks looking for a deviation from the usual drinks. And, each one delivers something unexpected or unusual. Because these drinks are more time-consuming to make and served in unusual ways, there is both a limit to how many can be served at one time as well as the hours in which they can be ordered. The Secret Menu is off limits during busy periods, so if you want to give it a try, I suggest an early evening, maybe even midweek.
For the drink specifics, let’s start with the Margarita, or what some might call a pizza in a glass. It’s made with anchovy infused tequila and sun-dried tomato infused Cointreau and served with a homemade dried olive powder rim. It’s presented on a cork coaster in a tiny pizza box with a side of (excellent!) capers and cheese shavings. I can feel some of you out there resisting the anchovy! Don’t fear the fish. Much like fish sauce can do for certain Asian dishes, the anchovy in this cocktail provides an unexpected umami pop. There are different layers to this drink that unroll at different times. First the nose is heavy with sun-dried tomatoes and then the anchovy lingers longer on the palette. More than just a gimmick, it is an interesting and intellectual exercise in balance and expectations.
Next up, a familiar face makes a reappearance with The Beast cocktail. Longtime regulars will recognize this drink from earlier days, when the team used fat from the nearby smokehouse of the same name to bring BBQ flavors into a cocktail. They have since removed it from the regular menu, kept the smokey fat wash, revamped it somewhat, added a savory meat garnish and served it up in a fry basket. If you’ve been missing this Beast, now’s your chance for a richer, new & improved version.
The last of this hat trick of hidden cocktails is a Negroni variation and my personal favorite. Since we’ve already established that life’s more fun when you can make your own discoveries, I won’t be spilling all the details on this one here. I’ll leave you with: the negroni is very nicely balanced with an interesting infusion and exhibits both a strength and subtlety. For the more adventurous, I recommend calling in, ordering it up blindly and taking a guess at the hidden flavor infusion.
Although that covers the secret menu, there are a few other news-bites of note about the bar worth sharing. CopperBay gets involved in some interesting creative collaborations with some of the city’s other food and drink businesses, from The Beast cocktail above to their own eponymous gin, created in collaboration with Julhes. And, also, at the moment, they have a range of pickle juices from bars and restaurants around town. So now you can get your
pickleback with pickled jalapeño juice from Candelaria or pickled cauliflower juice from Distrito Frances. It’s a fun way to give a nod to their neighboring bars and bring something more interesting to the pickle back (which never really caught on in Paris like it has elsewhere, but it just might with this kind of selection.) All of this means, that even if it’s too busy to partake in the Secret Menu, there are definitely other drinks worth discovering.
Finally, a big thanks to CopperBay for inviting me down for an exclusive scoop on this story. I appreciate that they think highly enough of my readers (you!) to consider them the best audience of cocktail fans for their only official announcement. And, while they won’t be doing any more official publicity or press events for this menu, I’m sure this won’t be the last you’ll hear about it. So, keep the secret to yourself, or even better, share it with your small circle of fellow cocktail lovers. And, definitely come back and let me know what you think about that secret ingredient in the negroni!
5 Rue Bouchardon