With a combo of custom cocktails and sustainable practices, Bisou brings a breath of fresh air to the Haute Marais. This sweet little spot is the second establishment under Nicolas Munoz who made his bones with the popular Bespoke bar and restaurant.
There is no menu at Bisou and, instead, the friendly staff talks you through their concept for custom cocktails and small snacks. Sticking to the seasonal and sustainable philosophy, the team only works with organic products from local producers and minimizes waste with practices like dehydrating extra produce for garnishes.
Bisou is not the first bar to broach custom cocktails, but it’s one of the better attempts I’ve seen so far. While many bars claim to make custom cocktails, often it’s just a blasé swapping out of spirits or a rotation of different fruit juice mixers. But, a truly successful bespoke bar program is an undertaking requiring talented staff who enjoy the ongoing challenge of pushing creative boundaries and have the skills to back that up. And, the most crucial element is people skills. And Bisou’s got ‘em so far.
In order to deliver a unique drink, you have to take the time to talk to the customer. The night of our visit, every new guest was greeted warmly and walked through the concept in a relaxed, easy going manner, using ideas and examples (spritz, mojito) that made potentially unfamiliar options or questions familiar. Customers weren’t getting spritz or mojito, per se, but they also weren’t left dangling helplessly when asked for some inspiration for their drink. (It can be intimidating for those unfamiliar with the ins and outs of cocktails to be asked what they want to drink without any kind of familiar footing.)
I, however, knew exactly what I wanted to start with and it was a Drumshanbo Gunpowder gin martini. But even that came with their own subtle twist…or, more accurately, without a twist because citrus was out of season and they were replacing it with a drop of lemon essence. (I’m cool with that.)
Following my martini, I let barkeep Nicolas Goradesky serve up a something mysterious and it was right in line with my sipping style: gin, celery bitters, Seedlip…. Seedlip is the “world’s first non-alcoholic spirit” and, while I really like the concept, I haven’t found a lot of occasion to swap out my usual spirits for something soft. However, I find using it as a lengthener in a cocktail is a fantastic idea. My drinking partners got cocktails equally specific to their tastes and suggestions. For example, “rum based and acidic” was met with a Corpse Reviver riff made with Plantation Pineapple. For each drink, seasonal toppings of edible flowers or dried fruits added taste and texture.
The small venue is bright and airy with a beautiful black and white marble bar top that makes a striking backdrop for the unique and simple glassware. The busy, hip street location coupled with their tempting terrace tricked out with potted plants and cute copper tables ensures plenty of youthful, curious drop-ins, which keeps the vibe fun and lively but still laid back.
In addition to cocktails at 12 Euros each, there are other local options like Deck and Donahue beer or Sassy cider. No wine, though. There is also a small selection of munchies including hummus, which is something we’re seeing more and more in the bars with the trend towards aquafava (gotta do something with those chick peas after draining off the liquid to mix into your cocktails!)
Simply put: Bisou makes sustainability fun with good drinks and an A+ attitude.
15 boulevard du temple