We already know that Paris’ right bank is busting with bars. But “la rive gauche” continues to slowly sneak up on its neighbor with some newer cocktail contenders like Solera.
Regular passengers on my boozy, bloggy ride should already be familiar with Christopher Gaglione from our stops at Royal Monceau and Burgundy Hotel where he ran the drinks programmes with aplomb. Following that, he headed to yet another swish hotel, Prince de Galles, where his reputation for creative cocktail staging grew. However, his latest stop takes him far from the high-end hotel circuit to something a little more laidback where he can don some trendy kicks, jeans and a baseball cap.
His current menu includes twelve signature drinks with the standard base ingredients like vodka, gin, rum, whisky & tequila. There is a small set of four drinks on his Old’s Cool menu (a menu that we see recycled from the Burgundy days, but in name only). It’s a short and sweet selection of drinks with ingredients that are more familiar to the craft cocktail crowd like Bonal, Rittenhouse, Carpano Antica, etc. Otherwise, you can order off menu from mojitos to martinis and they offer a selection of non-alcoholic options packed with fruit juices. I really appreciate that the Old’s Cool menu offers some nice drinks starting at just 10 Euros!
A cornerstone of their concept is the “foodrinks” where cocktails and plates are consciously paired to attempt something that’s more than a sum of its parts. While I haven’t had a chance to venture too far into the food, I did share a burger with a friend at the bar on a recent occasion – it was quite enjoyable and nicely priced, if I remember correctly.
These days, it’s not too difficult to find bars turning out decent cocktails, but here is where Solera goes beyond the norm:
Location: It’s off the beaten path, even for the left bank. Meaning it’s the kind of place where you can impress an unsuspecting date or friend bored with the same ‘ol, same ‘ol by quietly leading them to this little hidden gem far from the fray. (On a sidenote: I’ve heard really great things about Il Forno di Napoli, a nearby Neapolitan pizzeria, so one of my next nights out just might be for some pizza followed by nightcaps at Solera. If you get there before I do, report back on that pie!)
Service: With Christopher’s experience in sophisticated venues, he brings a high level of attention to the game. On the times I’ve been in, I’ve noticed that he doesn’t just talk to me or the regulars he knows, but seems to make a point to talk to all the clients and make each one feel welcome and special – and that’s 5 star hotel service.
Presentation: The biggest – and most instagrammable – differentiator by far is the drinks presentation. Whether your drink arrives in a birdcage, a freestanding hollow horn or a repurposed smoking wooden Cohiba cigar box, it’ll likely be impressive.
A few extras: They open early (5pm!) and are known to host events like Cognac Connexion and bring in evening DJ’s.
Not everyone is willing to cross the river on a regular basis. But even the right-bankers with plenty of choice should make the trek at least once to see what’s going on at this laid back left bank locale.
283 Rue Saint-Jacques