Apparently, I’ve been remiss in placating the Gods of Successful Terrace Visits. Clearly, I haven’t sacrificed the appropriate sacrifices, prayed the appropriate prayers or danced the appropriate Terrace Dances because last Wednesday’s bar was the 4th thwarted terrace attempt.The Raphael was closed for a private party, Bateau El Alamein got rained out, the Hotel Particulier isn’t open on Wednesdays and the Andy Wahloo was already too crowded to score a table outside by the time we got there. Guess it’s a popular after work spot.
The 17h00 to 20h00 happy hour with 5 Euros cocktails may have something to do with this early evening draw. Everyone appeared to be enjoying these nicely priced thirst quenchers on the pleasant backyard terrace – half of which seems to be devoted to the associated next door restaurant and the other half for drinks. I sidled up to the bar and checked out the menu: the typical what-have-yous (caipis, cosmos, moscow mule, etc) as well as tapas. Not seeing it on the menu, I asked the nice man working there if he could make a martini.
He paused and looked into the distance for a moment, quietly thinking, silently questioning as if deciding on something terribly important. Then, he turned to a dark soft cloth bag on the counter behind him, slid his hand inside and rummaged around before declaring “Yes! Yes, I can make you a martini.” He then removed a small silver cylindrical gadget from the pouch, which turned out to be a vermouth atomizer. Turns out Lionel brings his own collection of accouterments to work with him to make sure he’s got what it takes to please his customers. (I should have asked for a peak inside his bag of tricks!) I don’t normally go in for misters for my martinis, but I was fascinated with this pretty, shiny plaything. He chilled the glass, stirred up the Bombay Sapphire well, misted the glass with a good amount of vermouth before pouring in the gin and served it with a twist. He quickly followed up to find out if I was happy and offered more vermouth if necessary (as always, I really appreciate sincere follow through.)While I wasn’t blown away by the standard cocktail menu, I was happy enough that the staff were able to diverge easily and give me something I wanted. In fact, I found Lionel & co. exceptionally friendly and accommodating. When one of our party ordered wine, he brought out the four bottles on offer and gave her a generous sampling of each to help her decide.
This Wednesday brought a large, fun crowd with the usuals plus a few occasional dropper-inners, making the vibe a bit more party-like and lively. So, feeling a bit festive, I tried a few things after the martini. The Gin Bramble (gin, lemon,& creme demure) was refreshing but I particularly enjoyed the Wahloo Special (dark rum, lime, ginger, banana liquor & cinnamon). My group and the rest of the clientele seemed to feel the festiveness too, as evidenced by the 2 – 3 guys behind the bar working fast and furious to keep up with the drink orders.
One thing worth noting is the Andy Wahloo doesn’t skimp on the ice, which is a big problem with a lot of Parisian bars, making for mediocre cocktails and drinks that should be served cold.
This brightly coloured and kitschy bric-a-brac brimming establishment probably draws a relatively young and lively crowd ready to dance to the later evening DJ’s – which could be fun if that’s your thing. However, for me, I give it a thumbs up for a solid after-work stop some ice cold refreshments at a nice happy hour price. Plus, I’m just taken with the bartender because you gotta love a guy who comes with his own tools!
Cocktail Expert Forest Collins is the creator of 52martinis, an online guide to the best cocktail bars in Paris and other small batch spirits news from France. We've also recently launched an app so you can keep all that bar info in your pocket!
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