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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday Cocktail Adventure: L'Hotel


L’Hôtel
13 rue des Beaux Arts
Paris 75006
+33 (0) 1 43 25 64 81

Oscar Wilde’s famous last words, “Either that wallpaper goes or I do” were uttered three floors above the bar in L’Hotel where you can now order a L’Oscar Wilde. Back then it was called Hotel l’Alsace and he stayed there for some time without paying his bill before (bad pun warning) checking out. The current “Oscar Wilde” room is on the first floor and decorated with various Wilde memorabilia.

L’Hotel is a short walk from Saint Germain des Prés and well worth a visit. Nice hotels are nice and serve up nice drinks and nice food. There are lots of nice hotels in Paris. But, I was especially taken by L’Hotel. I’m trying to come up with a name for the décor. So far, I can only say “nouveau old”. It’s one of those places with well upholstered chairs in comfy arrangements, fireplaces, and bookshelves lining the walls. It looks old, but it’s probably not. Sometimes this look works and sometimes it doesn’t. It did for me at L’Hotel. I would have taken more photos, but tonight there was a camera crew filming an historian for a television show, so I couldn’t really wander about snapping away.

I ordered a “Dry Martini” off the menu. The bartender asked me if I wanted vodka or gin (even though the Dry Martini is listed on their menu as “gin and vermouth”.) House gin is Tanqueray. They also had Bulldog, Hayman’s Old Tom gin, G’Vine and Hendrick’s

My nice bar-guy chilled the glass while pouring my gin. He offered me a choice of Martini or N.P. for vermouth (took Nouilly Pratt). He threw in a few drops of Angostura at my request, stirred it up and topped it off with a lemon twist. A small dish of spicy Japanese crunchies came with my drink.

He did a nice job with the martini, but the crunchies were a bad bar snack with the filming. I only ate the small quiet ones since I didn’t want the big ones to interfere with the recording. I sat there – sucking quietly on my nibbles – and took a closer look at the bar. Apparently, cute famous boys drink here. On the wall behind the bar are photos of other celebrity patrons: Johnny Depp, Keanu Reeves, Sean Penn. (At least I think it was Sean Penn - without my glasses and with the glare, I’m not quite sure)

For my second drink I took – how could I not? – the L’Oscar Wilde. I got a glass of Jameson, red vermouth and Angostura bitters. It was garnished with some seriously alcohol-infused cherries and an orange slice. After eating the hot snacks and the killer cherries, my palate was pretty much shot, so it was hard to judge the Oscar Wilde.

After drinks at La Gare last time, which are around the same price as-off-the menu drinks here, I was thoroughly pleased with L ‘Hotel. Non-alcoholic drinks are around 4 – 5 Euros. A martini off the menu is 13 – 14 Euros. (Mine was a few bucks more with the upgrade on vermouth and gin). I’d like to go back and check out the restaurant whose chef worked at the 3 Michelin star Ledoyan previously. The cocktails were solid for Paris, the prices reasonable for a hotel bar, and the atmosphere was cozy and warm. Even though I can’t rate this as one of the best cocktail bars I’ve ever visited, it’s one of my favorites in Paris for now.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous columbine said...

i love l'hôtel, if only because of Oscar Wilde...
my boyfriend loves dry Martinis and i am an experienced cocktail maker. however, as i do not like Martinis myself (i don't like bitter tastes in general) i need some expert advice on how to make a good Martini.
so far i know you need good Gin (no problem there) and a dry vermouth. that took me quite a bit of research to figure out the differences between vermouth's and to go past the "Martini" brand confusion. i have rounded it up to dry vermouth, which would either be Noilly Prat or Martini extra dry. now i saw in your reviews that you mention the use of bitters. could you enlighten me on this matter? the only bitters i know are angostura bitters unless you are talking about bitter drinks such as Italien Myrto or Dutcht Genever etc.
thanks for your help

November 24, 2008 at 8:58 AM  
Blogger Forest said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 26, 2008 at 10:13 AM  
Blogger Forest said...

Hi Columbine :

Yes, I thought l’hôtel was really a great space!

On the martini – even though I’m pretty specific about the things I like and don’t like, I know everyone has their own tastes. And, I figure anything that enjoy drinking with good reason (i.e. not just because someone told you that’s how you’d like it) is a good choice.

For the martini & the bitters, there’s a good essay by Robert Hess on his website that goes into the martini makings and possibilities. You can find it here:
www.drinkboy.com/essays/theperfectmartini.html

and it probably explains better than I could what you might want to try.

Let me know how it works out!

November 26, 2008 at 10:15 AM  
Blogger Forest said...

oops...i just realized that essay doesn't talk about bitters (although take a peak at it anyway). You can see more on the martini makings (including a comment about adding a dash of bitters) here:

www.smallscreennetwork.com/
video/20/martini/

and, yes, I am talking about bitters like Angostura. My friend Dayne (whose blog you can see on my blogrole) sent me a nice collection of several different bitters and I especially enjoy a dash of orange or grapefruit bitters. It's not a necessity for a martini - but is apparently an original ingrediant of a martini. And, it just adds a little depth to the flavor combination for me. But, I don't know what your boyfriend likes...so maybe test a few with different ones or without. At the very least he'll get to try several good martinis! :)

November 26, 2008 at 10:25 AM  

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