Wednesday Cocktail Adventures: le Pompon

Le Pompon
39 Rue des Petites Ecuries
Paris 75010
Tel: 01 53 34 60 85

I’d heard rumors about reputable bar and design talent either potentially, marginally, temporarily or fully involved in le Pompon for some time before its opening a few months ago. So, I was looking forward to checking up on it with Matt, Vio and Kim.

When we arrived at this up and coming newbie in the 10th, it was quickly filling up with a motley after-work crowd. Kim noted that it’s a nightspot which can easily draw a varied customer base. I agree and like that aspect. But, perhaps they’re drawing crowds too successfully as it took quite a bit of time to actually place a drink order while standing directly at the bar.

Your first impression of le Pompon is the relatively spacious main room, packed with lively tables of patrons, large windows, high wooden walls and impressive chandeliers: cosy and updated pub-chic.

When I finally got a chance to order, I asked for a dry gin martini (not on the menu). When the barman grabbed a bottle of sweet vermouth from the shelf, I prepared to address the usual French martini dilemma (i.e. I wanted a dry gin martini not a glass of Martini sweet vermouth.) But, he explained that he knew what I wanted, but they were out of dry vermouth so he was using sweet instead.

I’m laughing to myself in an ‘are you kidding?’ kind of way. It’s basically a case of “We don’t really have what you want, but we’re just going to make what we feel like and give it to you anyway.” I got a highball of gin and sweet vermouth with a straw. Mine wasn’t the only adlib-recipe. I’m still working on my backlog of bars for which I lost photos and notes, but if I remember correctly, Kim ordered something without tonic that arrived blatantly boasting tonic. I believe this lack of attention to detail will set you back about 10 Euros a drink. The barman did show follow-through in coming over to ask how I liked my drink and was sincerely curious and non-defensive when I explained how I would have done it differently.

After our first round, we went for a quick peak at the lower level before leaving. Slipping through the somewhat discreet door at the foot of the stairs, provides a completely different level of ambiance where a small bar oversees a dim dance floor with DJ. I love the juxtaposition of these two rooms and wish Paris would offer up more varied venues like this. Happy with this discovery, we settled in for an impromptu second round. In the basement, drink options are limited to a handful of spirits and mixers for basic well drinks. I had a rum and coke. No comment.

Overall, the place is fun, nicely designed and promises to be a sure-thing address for a majority of both the after-work and night-crawling crowd. While not every bar in town is obligated to make a decent martini, that’s my thing. So even if I really like the space, I gotta call them out on their cocktails. With the vague rumors I continue to hear about behind the scene decisions here, I believe it will take a little time before le Pompon works out the drink kinks and hits full stride as either a place serving really good cocktails or your basic beer and well drinks. In the meantime, they’re worth a visit for a pint and some good music.

PHOTO NOTE: I finally replaced my camera, so this is my second to last post without my usual photos. Kim gets credit for those on today’s post and you can check out even more on her Pompon post at I Heart Paris.

7 thoughts on “Wednesday Cocktail Adventures: le Pompon

  1. Great review. I think from a cocktail point of view, they either need to seriously up the ante or just not bother having a cocktail menu. If you discount the cocktail aspect, I think it's a really nice bar – as you point out, great place for a beer and good vibes, but not a good cocktail bar by a long shot!

  2. agreed – I had a good time there and think most people will. But, given my blog topic, I couldn't let them slide on the cocktails! :) (thanks again for the pics!)

  3. I'm having so much fun reading your blog. I'm learning so much. And just in time as I have a group of friends arriving from SF first week of Jan. Thanks to you I might actually pass as cool :)

  4. Nice. So the Pompon's a well-designed event space with subterranean rumpus room.

    (I won't deign to call a place that can't mix a drink a "bar") :P

  5. It seems like so many of this ultra trendy bars and lounges think they can get around making the drinks properly. Same thing happened to me this weekend elsewhere – asked for a black russian, was given a white…. not at all the same thing! Glad you called them on their error!

  6. Agreed! I loved the subterranean space, but was underwhelmed by the street-level space. Also underwhelmed by the drinks (and prices). I feel like Parisians are always too eager to declare something 'hypercool'. Or maybe I'm just missing something.

  7. At school, my French teacher used to say to the class, "Don't bastardise the language". So the first thought I had when I read that they substituted sweet Vermouth for dry was "ca ne va pas, non?" Glad you called them out on it.

    Do you think some places are just trying too hard and want to be everything for everyone?

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