To much fanfare earlier this year, the Crillon Hotel reopened after a four-year remodel. This once private residence, commissioned in 1758 by Louis XV, now flaunts a luxuriously updated attitude and a bar that stands by the “The 3 C’s” That’s cocktails, champagne and caviar, daaahling. And their bar, Les Ambassadeurs, is not only gobsmackingly gorgeous, but it’s one of the few high-end hotel bars that really nails the cocktails…and, apparently, the munchies and bubbles as well.
Les Ambassadeurs’ head barman Christophe Davoine is not your average drinks slinger, having been named MOF barman in 2015. “MOF” means the “meilleur ouvrier de France,” which can be loosely translated as the “Best Craftsman of France” and is a highly-regarded title awarded in various professional categories.
Davoine has put together a tidy list of 20 cocktails, including creations and classics at 24 Euros each – a reasonable price considering the location and level of service and bar snacks. The house cocktails cover a range of base spirits and styles, meaning it should be easy to find something for everyone. For example, the Moment Royal mixes red vermouth with St Germain, grenadine, mint & soda for something that would be light, but still interesting. Or the Chaplin is an Old Fashioned riff made with Bourbon and cherry & gentian liqueur, which would bring a welcome bitter element to this classic. So, while they might not be breaking the latest of ground, they’re putting together a nice collection with some interesting twists.
However, on my few visits to the bar, I stuck with the classics. My first visit for a post-shopping, late afternoon martini impressed me enough to tempt me back a few more times. The next few martinis I had there were equally good, which is something that sometimes surprises me in hotel bars as they can vary somewhat in quality (depending on the time you’re there, who’s behind the bar, etc.…hotels are big operations to run, so I imagine staff is not always 100% dedicated to the bar and hotel management may also have different ideas on what should be served, how and with which – cost effective? – ingredients).
Here, I discovered on my most recent visit that they batch the martinis before shifts. And for what you might lose in the ritual and charm of watching your martini being made, you make up for bigtime in consistency. Plus, the batched martinis are served from beautiful glass decanters worthy of this type of establishment. They also delivered on classics like the old fashioned and Manhattan.
But there are other interesting items of note here. Word is they have over 100 champagnes by the glass, many of which are grower champagnes – so ones you won’t find everywhere and can be not just a good discovery but a great value. Just through the bar is the beautiful Jardin d’Hiver, which not only provides some nice eye candy, but afternoon tea and pastries from chef Jérôme Chaucesse.
I’d say I’m not the only one who’s wowed by the latest incarnation of this Parisian institution. When we arrived earlier this week at around 6pm, the place was in full swing with a piano man playing softly in the background. Later in the evening the piano is replaced by DJ’s – so a little something for everyone, indeed. I guess I’ll have to go back to try the caviar and champagne next…
Les Ambassadeurs at Crillon Hotel
10, Place de la Concorde
75008 Paris, France