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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wednesday Cocktail Adventure: Experimental Cocktail Club

For searching convenience, I've cut and pasted my earlier entries from eGullet before my blog existed, so there are no photos for these first few:

Experimental Cocktail Club
37 rue St Sauveur
Paris 75002

For my first Wednesday Cocktail Adventure, I decided on the aptly named Experimental Cocktail Club. I hadn’t heard anything about this place, and didn’t have high hopes, but I was immediately surprised. This small bar, with dark heavy curtains, low cushy chairs and sofas, has a lounge-y, relaxed feel. The menu features about 10 different specialty cocktails and a selection of whisk(e)ys, bourbons, and ryes (including some interesting looking Japanese whiskeys) As far as I could tell they do not serve beer or wine.

I don’t really believe in testing bartenders’ ESP and expecting them to know exactly how I want my drink. So, when he began to ask questions about how I wanted my martini (which I already see as a plus – he’s not just going to throw something together for me) I explained exactly what I wanted: 1 part vermouth & 4 parts gin. I noticed that they had grapefruit bitters listed as an ingredient in another drink, so I asked for a drop or two of that as well. The martini was stirred, the glass was chilled and it was very nice, indeed. Another thing I especially appreciated was his avoiding an upsell on me. Their house gin is Plymouth (I believe – I’ll check my notes which are elsewhere and edit if that’s not correct) but I had asked for a step up from the house. After a bit of thought, he, instead, suggested that with the addition of the bitters the house would work better. (which leads me to believe he was putting some serious thought into how the drink would taste) My second drink was off the menu – a Chicago Fizz – and also very nice.

Some other things that raise this bar in my estimation: They stock a variety of bitters. They have a selection of uncommon and interesting brands of spirits. When the bartender ’t answer a question about some of their ryes listed, he made a point to get the answer during the evening and came over to give me the information before I left.

Thus, my low expectations were completely surpassed. For the quality, service and careful preparation, I’d gladly go back. And, as a bonus, the cocktails were very reasonably priced by high end Parisian cocktail standards. (10 – 12 Euros) The bartender/owner said he doesn’t believe that there is another place in Paris that is putting as much conscious thought into their cocktails – with the exception of hotel bars where you are going to pay much more. (and, from my current experience, I’d agree with that…although future Wednesdays will tell)

It’s worth noting that I was there early evening on a week night. After talking to the owner, I get the impression that the weekend nights turn into more of a loungey/hipster vibe and the crowd is less interested in high end cocktails than listening to the DJ while downing vodka crans. So, while for cocktail purposes I might avoid it at those times, the others who were with me are looking forward to checking it out on the weekend for the music and atmosphere.

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