23, avenue Junot
Tel. : 00 33 1 53 41 81 40
Here’s a little secret about me. I can hold a grudge like no body’s business. No need to tell me – I know this is a really immature quality and as I get older I try and work on that. But, due to this little personality trait, I almost didn’t go back to the Hotel Particulier a second time.
The private bar at Hotel Particulier is closed on Wednesdays, so I took advantage of a Friday night during Wendy’s recent visit to Paris to partake in what I’d heard was a beautiful terrace on which spectacular drinks were to be enjoyed. Do note: reservations are required in order to score a spot in this idyllic little hide-away on the quiet backside of Montmartre.
After finding the basically unmarked entry gate, patrons meander down a cobble path – and possibly (like us) unintentionally wander into the neighboring yard before being redirected to the Hotel Particulier. Having been buzzed through the second gate, a graciously unctuous overseer Laure, ushers clients to their private tables at the charming – and, yes, idyllic – open air bar.
So far, so good. Now, let’s get down to business: the cocktails! Well, that took about 3 seconds. The menu featured a measly three house creations (one vodka based, one rum based, one gin based). When I asked the quixotically quirky waitress/bartender if she could make a dry martini, she enthusiastically answered “Yes! If you tell me what’s in it!” Was I particularly edgy this evening? I don’t know, but at this point, I found the enthusiasm more grating than appreciated and offered to just stick with the menu. She agreed that would be better. Wendy and I remarked that we had come specifically for what we understood was a long list of cocktails on offer. She explained that the usual bartender was unusually away for the evening so he had entrusted her with three recipes and strict instructions to follow them precisely.
Now, cocktails, at 15 Euros, aren’t cheap here – but I was willing to forgive that for the dreamy space. And, interestingly, after the first round, prices drop to 10 Euros a drink (which I think is a bargain for a good cocktail here.) And here’s where it got dicey. Not only were we not in the market for a second drink, but we weren’t even able to finish our first ones. I took a Captain Hook (cognac, rum, cassis & lemon juice) and Wendy took an Eva (gin, lemon & rose liqueur). She got maybe halfway through hers and I – being more of a glutton for punishment…or booze – got about two-thirds through it. They were both so over-acidic that our teeth were screeching. When two clients – especially two who are clearly interested in cocktails – leave their 15 Euros drinks unfinished and get up to go, I think that sends a sign to the bar staff. A sign that it’s a good time to ask if the drinks are okay, which didn’t happen. We both felt a bit cheated that the usual “cocktail artist” was not in residence, yet we were still expected to pay the usual prices.
Someone told me recently that it’s wrong to complain about things after the fact, when you could have said something directly at the moment. And, I think that’s right. I (nicely) replied to Laure’s question about our visit with the truth: that we were particularly disappointed with the cocktails since we had come on that reputation alone. She apologized and explained that she had recommended that the faux–barlady stick with beer and wine. (yet, no one recommended this to us). She offered to comp us a round of drinks on our next visit. (the next visit, not the current one…sneakily good business practice, a bit annoying for us.)
We left, disappointed and 30 Euros lighter. After a brief discussion, however, we decided to take her up on that offer. We had asked to see the normal cocktail menu and were curious and impressed by the possibilities. We immediately called our friend Laure and made reservations for the next night – which I’ll try and post on quickly because things did get better.