16 rue des Bernardins
You know when you first fall for someone and you think everything they do is great? That's how I'm feeling about the guys behind the Experimental at the moment. So, I was looking forward to this week's cocktail adventure to their newly opened second bar, Curio Parlor, heart warm with my school girl crush.
Initially, we walked right past the unassuming and unmarked door. After backtracking, finding the correct number and entering, it was clearly a bar in the ECC family with its dim lighting, funky decor, ambient music, and velour seating. The walls are stone & there is a sexy little nook, which is sort of curtained off from the rest of the small bar offering a somewhat more private space. The downstairs was full of customers watching a movie, so I didn't explore down there as much. We arrived just after opening (21h00) and the bar was already buzzing with a good little crowd.
The drinks menu is different than that of the Experimental, offering ten specialty drinks such as the Aragua Tiki, vodka-based Strawberry Field, and the Pisco Pineapple. The prices, however, remained true to their range of 10 - 12 Euros. My first round Plymouth martini with a dash of angostura and a lemon twist was excellent. It was perfectly cold (I noticed the bartender stirring it for a good amount of time before serving) Matt started with a Copa Verde (Tequila, bio honey, avocado & lime), which got general approval from the crowd. Also of note, Chris (another semi-regular of the cocktail adventures) ordered a very tasty Manhattan Rye. So nice, in fact, that when Romee, (one of the three owners) mistakenly brought one to the table for one of our party, I snapped it up before he could take it away to change it.
I chatted a bit with him and told him that I had recently been to a few well-known Munich cocktail bars, where the bartenders were singing the praises of the Experimental. He talked about the influences that a few bars in Germany and U.S. bars like Pegu & Flatiron had on their two spots. It's not every day you find a bartender in Paris dropping those names - but the fact that he did confirms my prior impression that these guys have a serious interest in cocktails. I asked him where he got the Bio Luscombe Hot Ginger Beer listed on the menu. I can't really remember, but I believe it's only accessible to industry customers - but I liked its refreshing bite so much, that I followed my Manhattan Rye with a Spiced Mule (rum, ginger, lime, house vanilla sugar & the ginger beer). Yum.
Basically, these guys have taken things (unmarked doors, movie screenings, high-end cocktails) and put them together into a nice, solid drinking experience without the potential pretension or cheese factor that this combination could present. On Wednesday night the crowd seemed friendly and laid back. While I still prefer the Experimental (purely personal preference - no reflection on the quality of the cocktails) I would come back to this great find any time for the well-crafted cocktails at a reasonable price. My only hope is that they keep getting a dedicated and cocktail-enthusiastic crowd so they keep up the fantastic work!