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10 May 2009

Adventures in Cocktails

I think I have found the Parisian equivalent of Employees Only: the Experimental Cocktail Club, located in the "up and coming" (i.e. mostly dodgy) Montorgeuil ("mountain of pride") neighbourhood. Walking down rue Saint-Sauveur, you come across a building with a plain blue sign but no text. Apart from the bouncer, it could be anywhere or nowhere and the windows provide no clues form the inside. Once the bouncer has determined that you are cool enough to enter, you walk through the door and through the red curtains into a small, funky bar with a small number of tables, a few lucky people perching at the bar and many more 20- and 30-somethings crammed into the remaining elbow room.

The cocktails were impeccable. The bar, being experimental, offers a menu with a selection of 11 experimental cocktails (although the brilliantly stocked, mirrored bar allows the skilled bar staff to whip up almost anything that might take your fancy). I started with a Bee's Kiss (being B, of course): Appleton VX Jamaican Rum, cream, organic honey, "poivre long concasse d'Indonesie" (some kind of Indonesian pepper). I then moved on to the Old Cuban (pictured: Havana Club aged 3 years, Champagne, Ginger cordial, fresh lime juice, fresh mint, cane sugar and bitter truth aromatic), while Monsieur E went for the Rye Tobacco Sour, which sounded horrible (containing tobacco liqueur, rye whiskey and egg white, among other things) but tasted pretty palatable. On my to-try list for the next visit are the Strawberry Alarm Clock and the Unusual Gin and Tonic (not actually that unusual--it just uses Hendrick's gin, freshly squeezed lime and a slice of cucumber--but how cool is the name?), although the menu changes every year so I might have to find something else by then. 

The vibe of the bar, the quality of the cocktails, its discreet exterior and intimate, stylish interior are all worthy of Employees Only. I would almost certainly have walked past both without a second glance had I not been guided there. Monsieur E and I were lucky to secure at least half a bar stool each so that we could perch while we soaked up the atmosphere (not to mention the random juices and splashes of cocktail that would occasionally fall from the shaker in the capable hands of the hot, Colombian barman (everyone says that).


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