Wednesday Cocktail Adventures: Hotel Bel Ami
7-11 rue St-Benoît
Tél. +33 (0)1 42 61 53 53
It's not all about drinking at 52 Martinis, sometimes we learn stuff, too! Well known French writer Guy de Mauppassant's second novel was Bel Ami. Maupassant lived most of his life in Normandy where you'll find calvados and cider galore. So, in a nod to this fine writer, the Hotel Bel Ami Bar offers guests a choice a various calvados and cider based cocktails.
The bright and cheery bar is on the main floor of this snazzy 4 star hotel. Soundless black and white films are projected on the walls of the large and modern space. The tables, chairs and comfortable banquettes are spaced in a way to create somewhat intimate groupings, however, even that couldn't save it from the fact that I found it way too bright, which is a sure ambiance killer in my book. Instead of feeling like a relaxed and laid back escape, it felt more like an upscale, nicely decorated waiting room - maybe what it would be like in the waiting room of your plastic surgeon.
While the very nice barman chilled my martini glass with ice, he stirred some Martini Dry into the pitcher with ice. He dumped the Martini and then added the Beaffeater to the pitcher, stirred up my drink, poured and topped it off with a lemon twist. I can't fault much there, other than that I, personally, would have liked more vermouth. I was joined by Matt & Violaine, and new-comer to the Wednesday Cocktail Adventures, Ritu. While the girls enjoyed a nice glass of Beaune, Matt and I went for a calvados cocktail. His Colporteur (orange, banana, grenadine & calvados) was interesting, but I enjoyed my Aux Champs a bit more for it's simplicity of cherry liquor and calvados. While both were well made, neither knocked my socks off.
The staff were all friendly and accommodating and refilled our bar munchie bowls with spicy Japanese crackers and cashews.
Overall, this was a pleasant place with decent drinks even if their specialties didn't blow me away. However, cocktail prices (14 - 15 Euros) were a lot more reasonable than many other 4 star hotel bars. If they'd just turn the lights down a notch, I'd might be more likely to give them another try.