5 rue Sedaine
When it comes to cocktails, I get around. Pre-batched, on tap, carbonated, bottled, aged, shrubs, smoked, frozen, jellified, high octane, low octane, molecular, bitters, gin, whisky, mescal, pisco, house-made syrups, and infusions. I’m familiar. Same goes for hidden entrances and speakeasy styles. So, sometimes I must remind myself that just because something’s not new to me, doesn’t mean it’s not new to a larger drinking population or that it’s not good. Case in point: Moonshiner, our latest prohibition themed bar with a hidden entrance.
Over the past few years, each of this group’s new openings has a unique personality. The UFO is a good, gritty, local; the Kremlin rocks ruskie fun; Rock’n’Roll circus is a hipster hideout for good music and cheap bears; and Dirty Dick does tiki time. Given their propensity to go for different styles, I was surprised to find that their latest bar was employing a somewhat shopworn theme. Pleasantly surprised once I checked it out.
The girls and I met at a lively pizza joint last month and, after finding the hidden entrance within, made our way back to the city’s most recent modern day speakeasy. The décor is very nicely done and what you would expect given the theme: dim lighting, lounge like vibe, chesterfields, vintage turntable, era appropriate wall paper and lovely metal ceiling tiles. Also of note: Smokers will appreciate the fumoir (inside of which there seems to be a safe and the lucky client to guess the combination wins a prize)
The menu features just under 20 options with a mix of creations and classics ranging from 6 to 14 Euros. Creations include some fun with a few twists on standards like the Smoky Island, with its ice tea inspired mix of Havana 3 year, Vodka, Beefeater Gin, Mescal, Luxardo house made smoked tea syrup and honey with a coke topper. The page of classics sticks with brown and bitter choices like old fashioned, blood and sand, manhattan.
I had a well made martini which was not on the menu, so the crew here can handle their cocktails. Their kicky little bottled vieux carre comes in a flask, hidden within in a book. You can pour it over ice in the accompanying glass or sip it straight from the flask if you fancy. Between us, we tried a fair few off the menu and enjoyed them all. On a return visit, I tried the Safron Julep, which was not bad, but a bit heavy on the saffron and sweet for my taste so that it felt a little cloying (surprising considering the addition of over proof rum that I would have thought would cut through that pretty strongly).The Blood & Sand was well balanced and made with Laphroaig, which – while not my favorite choice for this classic – added an interesting element. I might call this version ‘Blood & Smoke.’ That said, overall the menu has a good range of choice and the staff are working their skills.
While I didn’t notice an exceptionally large selection of gins behind the bar, I imagine prohibition era drinkers didn’t have much of a selection either. So, I’m cool with that as it seems to go along with the theme. And while the bar does a good enough job to stand on its own without the prohibition prop, the theme is what really sets them apart from Paris’ growing selection of superior bars. Moonshiner is currently the best bet in town for celebrating the era of the Noble Experiment. While some bars incorporate aspects of the speakeasy trend, the Moonshiner is the only place in town that is maximizing them all at once with its truly hidden entrance, Gatzby-like decor and drinks secreted away in old books. So, while this trend may not be new, this group is attacking it with vigor and working it successfully.