12 rue Frochot
So, remember back in 2012 when I was writing about Pigalle’s increasing cool factor and its proliferation of better bars? Back then, I was living in the area, watching the progress and reporting as it went from cocktail dead zone to cocktail destination. Well, now it’s pretty much gone full-blown and mainstream with an impressive selection of serious cocktail stops. And, the newest addition to the area is no exception.
With a Parisian Belle Époque meets New Orleans’ Storyville vibe and named for one of NOLA’s notorious madams, Lulu White couldn’t have picked a better location than this neighborhood full of working girl bars and girlie-cum-cocktail bars. Pass through the discrete entrance located just next door to Dirty Dick and escape into an elegant, art nouveaux world with a carrousel style bar reminiscent of New Orleans’ Hotel Montleone (a place near and dear to the cocktail lover’s heart). Considering that the duo behind this drinking spot, Dotan Shalev et Timothée Prangé, made a name for themselves with the nicely designed Little Red Door, it’s no surprise that we like what we see here.
But, let’s move past her pretty face and check out the personality. In a nod to the Bohemian culture of Paris in the 20’s, the menu includes an absinthe flight, 7 absinthe-infused drinks at 11-12 Euros, one cocktail priced at 15 Euros, bottled beers, wine and Champagne. Putting absinthe in every mixed drink on the menu is a ballsy move. And one I raise my glass to. The menu has been crafted so that the absinthe improves each cocktail without taking over. Even if you think you won’t get along with the Green Fairy, I encourage you to work through a few of their choices, which will at least challenge if not change that notion. And I hear that head barman, Matthew, is becoming a bit of an absinthe expert…
On my visit, the lovely Kelly started me off with Le Carmen Miranda: Four Roses Bourbon, Strawberry Cordial, and Pernod Absinthe, served slushy style in a coupe. What?! Cordial + bourbon – that can be kind of too sweet, non? That’s what I thought and under other circumstances I may have shied away from it, but thankfully I let myself be led in this direction. Le Carmen Miranda is refreshing and well balanced. The Bourbon brings strength, and the cordial made with dried strawberries and tartaric acid (among other things) adds just the right one-two punch of sweet and sour to balance it out and leave you smacking your lips and salivating for the next sip. Finally, a touch of absinthe adds some depth. (And for those of you who keep asking why it takes so long to make a cocktail…this is the one for you…no wait time!) While not my usual go-to style, I really enjoyed starting the evening with one. I moved onto something more in line with my personal tastes with the Beefeater based Lea d’Asco, which was equally good (but less surprising given my imbibing inclinations) So, there’s something to be said for stepping out of your comfort zone.
It’s not just the interesting drinks, excellent service and appropriate place, that make Lulu White a worthwhile stop. It’s surrounded by plenty of great cocktail choices. And, word on the street is that soon we’ll also be seeing more cool new neighbors like the latest from the L’Entrée des Artistes team and the new hotel from the ECC boys.
So, although I no longer live in Pigalle, I still make regular visits to keep up with all the fun. And, I’ll confess, I’m secretly hoping that now that I’ve moved to the 15th, I will be the catalyst for a new cocktail explosion to happen there. Don’t laugh. It could happen…