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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Wednesday Cocktal Adventure: Flute

NOTE: For searching convenience, i'm cutting and pasting my earlier entries from eGullet before my blog existed, so there are no photos for these first few & these are not recent entries - i just thought it would be better for them to all be in one place...just some housekeeping!


19 rue de L'Étoile, 75017 Paris Tel. 01 45 72 10 14

Pulling myself back away from philosophical musings and debates on the meaning behind the price of a cocktail (which risks rambling off subject) and back to the topic at hand….

The Experimental now has some good company in my list of current favs. I think I said something upthread along the lines of the quality of the cocktail was my sole criteria. And, I think I lied just a little. I’m realizing that quality (knowledge & skill of bartender, range of ingredients, hard to find ingredients, appropriate cocktail making accoutrements) is the most important and most heavily weighted criteria. BUT, other aspects of the bar (atmosphere, price and service) are obviously going to play a part in my determination of what’s best (and it should go without saying, I mean ‘best’ for me…everyone has their own personal preferences)

Upon entering, this tiny space offers a 3 or 4 stool bar seating area and a ‘fireside’ seat tucked off in the corner. Upstairs is larger with a handful of tables and seats scattered about. I was shown to the tiny fireside spot – the space I can only assume now is possibly reserved for newbies like me who didn’t realize you have to make reservations to drink here. The feel is very cozy-trendy-lounge, small and intimate.

Flute is primarily a champagne bar, with a wide range of bubbly at (what seemed to me) reasonable bar prices – 80 or so for a bottle of Veuve Cliquot - sold by the bottle, glass or tastings. The Paris Flute has been open for three months – there are two other Flutes in New York, which have been open for 10 years.

Not varying from my standard procedure, I ordered a martini. (my table may have been the only one not drinking champagne) I was asked if I wanted it shaken or stirred, with lemon twist or olive. The house is Bombay Sapphire. The 12 Euros martini (stirred & with an olive) was very nice, indeed, and accompanied by little Japanese snacky cracker things (you all know which ones I’m talking about even if I don’t know what they’re called) and olives.

Mathieu, the bartender, was not only friendly, but obviously interested in cocktails. We got into a discussion on whether the tendency is to shake or stir in the US and where to find good cocktails in Paris. Both he and the 2nd bartender there last night (Antonio? Or maybe Antonio is the third who wasn’t there) both came from high end hotel bars, so they know what they’re doing – and also know how to cater to demanding cocktail clients from other places. (And, incidentally, if it matters to anyone just visiting Paris, they speak English). In talking with Mathieu, I get the impression that he makes a point of exploring the cocktail scene beyond Paris to keep up with new trends and tastes. (He was telling me about his visit to the London Milk and Honey)

He showed me the upstairs area and seemed genuinely enthusiastic about the place. When I asked what the bar snacks were like, he later brought me over a plate of the spring rolls to try (nice, light, summery, and with a tasty, but not overpowering sauce). For my second round, I asked his opinion & after getting some information on my preferences served me a tasty and refreshing tequila-based concoction. Matthieu (not the bartender, but my one consistent drinking partner on Wednesday nights) declared his drink the best he’s had so far in our trials. (strangely I can’t remember the exact name of what he ordered – something Mambo? –it was good, but not my favorite – a bit too coconutty – but that’s purely personal taste on my part)

As I left I tried to make reservations to come back on Sunday with some out of town visitors for champagne. But, sadly, they are closed on Sunday and Monday.

Overall, I was very pleased with this choice. The knowledge/service/price combo was excellent. And, while they don’t have the same range of spirits and bitters (they only have angostura) as the Experimental Cocktail Club, I forgive them that, since their main focus is champagne. Knowing now I need reservations – I have them for Saturday to try their champagne and will also be checking out their Tuesday night happy hour. (buy one drink, second one offered)

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