126 Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honore
Tel: 01 45 63 69 69
I love learning new words. So I was quite pleased when Justine joined me for martinis last night – both for the nice company and the term she introduced me to: “Clip Bar.” Apparently, a clip bar is an establishment into which sexy ladies might lure unsuspecting gentlemen for pocket-picking purposes. I’m not sure if that’s an exact definition since I can’t find anything online, but I’m sticking with it because it’s just the kind of fun and sordid bit of information that I like. And, Justine’s likening of Cafe Chic to a clip bar isn‘t far off considering it used to be a ‘gentlemen’s club.’ (update note: since i posted @maximbarrault tweeted me this wiki page on it.)
There is definitely a subtle faux-classy-strip-club vibe to this place. I entered the busy, low-lit bar and restaurant that may have been classier in days gone by but seems a bit tatty now. Plenty of comfortable vinyl seats (perfect for lap dances?) are grouped into more intimate hubs. I took a seat at the counter and examined the stock and menu. Cafe Chic is another bar with a Demarle connection so I expected to be impressed. There’s a good number of bottles on the shelf, with a large selection of gin by Paris standards (including Beefeater 24, Martin Millers, Hendricks, Tanqueray 10, etc). The vodka is their biggest offering with plenty of “standard”, “premium”, “super premium” and “special” brands on the menu. Spirits can be had by the bottle, as well, if you want to shell out 200 Euros for Grey Goose.
The menu features 16 classic cocktails at 14€, which aren‘t necessarily all classics, but well-known. Additionally they offer “Mixology Cocktails,” “Signature Cocktails” and “Fresh Fruit cocktails” going for 16 to 18€. My martini from the classics was stirred Bombay Sapphire served with a twist and a barely there hint of vermouth. The glass was cool but not exceptionally cold. The martini was good enough. It really wasn‘t bad. But, I seriously took umbrage at its price! 14€!? Who do you think you are? I can get better, cheaper, elsewhere. Warning: I might be overreacting. I’m having insomnia these days so I think a general fatigue is making me more edgy and critical than usual.
Justine ordered a cucumber martini, which she enjoyed but would have preferred it less sweet. Matt has declared the Sidecar his current favorite cocktail and ordered one, which wasn‘t listed on the menu. The barman handled it well. Matt asked for the second sidecar to ease up on the citrus, but I think that’s a matter of his personal preference and not a reflection on the barman. Violaine took a luxury mojito, which was also good, but nothing really differentiated it from a regular mojito for me. Cafe Chic also has a cocktail called “Treacle” Treacle is a word that for some reason I mis-associate with certain savory foods that I don’t want in my mouth if I know what makes them up. Like, I always think of haggis or tripe when I hear treacle. But actually treacle is just a sugar syrup. Or a cocktail generally comprising rum, apple juice, sugar & Angostura bitters.
Throughout all this, I was starving, so fortunately, they brought out some ceramic bowls of Doritos and salsa dip (from a jar). Also, then I kind of lost my appetite when i noticed the couple sharing our table space were having a serious making out session. (yikes! i really do seem to be turning into a cranky bitch!) Anyway….this underscored Justine’s further observation that it seems like a bar where you bring your secretary (the one you’re having an affair with!)
So what have we got here? Some decent booze behind the bar, a few bottles of bitters and barstaff that generally seem to know what they are doing all wrapped up in an old school seedy-come-classy decor. And, I could actually get behind that faded-naughty-glam aspect of the bar. But, it’s just not enough to pull me back for the cocktails. I know where to get better. But, i do have to admit: in terms of overall Paris cocktail bars, they’re really not doing a bad job.
Note: my camera is off for repairs, so we’re working with iPhonepics – sorry about the less than stellar quality but thanks, Vio, for taking them!