10 Rue Frochot
Change is good. And, I’ve seen some especially good change when it comes to the Pigalle in the last few years. Paris’ red-light district has gone from cocktail dead zone to cocktail destination thanks to the arrival of bars like Glass, Kremlin and Rock’n’Roll Circus. And the latest place to bring a bit of kicky change to the area? The naughtily named Dirty Dick, which is giving Pigalle some Polynesian personality with its tiki themed bar and drinks. I can get down with a bit of South Seas style sipping, so I stopped in with one of my fav drinking partners to check things out.
With several busy bars already under their belts, the team behind the Dirty Dick went all out with their latest venture. While the typical touches like rattan furniture, palm tree wall paper, and tiki masks, give it the appropriate island feel, they’ve added some extras that knock the deco up a notch. Two tall totem poles – specially carved for the space and weighing a hefty 350 kilos each – frame a lush wall of tropical plants. American artist, David “Gonzo” Gonzalez created another kind of lush wall with his mural of a flirty bikini bottom-clad beach beauty. A sweet soundtrack of tropical bird tweets loops in the loos. And, the night we were there, the place was already packed with neighborhood locals enjoying the festive vibe and fun drinks.
The friendly team behind the bar – including Scotty (previously of the UFO) and Christina (of the Kremlin) – know how to do a good time as well as a good drink. Before looking at the menu, I sheepishly ordered a dry martini. Being in a tiki joint, I “should” go for one of the rum creations… but, you know, the martini thing, it’s what I do. But guess what? There’s already one on the menu with their special grapefruit spin. Class. My Edinburgh martini was served with a twist and a shot of extra vermouth on the side at 10 Euros. Nice.
After that, I was ready to move onto the rum-based Cutback Conquest, which offers the satisfying balance of a well-made sour made more mature and interesting thanks to the Guinness reduction’s bitter beer bite, spiking through the otherwise easy-going cocktail for a pleasant surprise. The rest of the menu also reflects this element of the unexpected or a juxtaposition of sorts: An elegant un-refinedness, if you will (as opposed to an unrefined elegance). This classy kitsch works perfectly for a tiki bar. With its ass-kicking punches poured into over the top ceramic mugs, tiki, by nature is not a subtle cocktail culture. But a truly good tiki drink can celebrate both its fun factor as well as showcase something more interesting and complex – and that’s where Dirty Dick is going.
The menu features 17 cocktails with a good mix of classics and house creations, mainly based (of course) on rum, but with other options including vodka, tequila, whiskey, etc. Lighthearted descriptions don’t divulge everything, but instead evoke a feeling or idea. Prices range from 6 to 14 Euros, based roughly on the amount of liquor in your libation; while the Ba-Tiki-Da at 6 Euros has about 5 centiliters of booze, the Slurricane at 14 Euros has close to 12 (watch out!).
Additionally, they offer up three convivial punch bowls for sharing that sound both fun and deadly like the Amazombie, based on the original Zombie, which promises to turn the “living into dead,” or the She Sells Sea Shells sold in a conch shell. And it just gets better with a selection of over 52 different rums on the shelf. Also of note, they are open 7/7 and have a well-ventilated smoking room in the back.
Dirty Dick shows that this group of bars and its associated staff have the know-how to put together a worthy watering hole and have managed to make a classy tiki joint without losing personality or credibility. Two thumbs up. The only problem is that now that another new great drinking destination has opened up in the area, I’ve just moved to a new neighborhood. So, I just keep reminding myself that “Change is good, right?” … and fortunately, my new place is on a direct metro line to Dirty Dick.