Wednesday Cocktail Adventures Part I: Hotel du Nord
I hate writing negative reviews. But, I hate arsey bartenders even more.
Hotel du Nord seemed to have potential. Renovated not long ago and located on the Canal St Martin, it's a pleasant little locale that has managed to squeeze a few tables out front to create a small sidewalk terrace. Inside you'll find a large restaurant area and a nice looking bar with a few tables for drinks. We arrived around 7 and the server who took our drink orders was friendly, pleasant and chatty. No complaints so far. Their cocktail menu offers up a selection of about 15 to 20 cocktails at around 8 or 9 Euros. Seeing the dirty martini listed, I asked the server if I could have a traditional martini with just the gin and vermouth. "Of course!" he says.
At around 10 minutes to 8:00 our drinks arrived. (yes, that means we were sitting at the table for almost an hour before the drinks came). Visually, my cloudy, ice filled cocktail in a snifter did not appear to be a dry martini. One taste confirmed my eyeballs' suspicion. Wondering what I had been served, I went up to the bar and asked what was in my martini. The bartender told me it was a litchitini, with vodka and litchi syrup. I explained I had asked for a regular martini. At this point, he began scolding me for not ordering off the menu! I was a bit surprised. I (pretty nicely) explained, that I had asked the server for something particular, he said "of course", 50 minutes later I got something else, so it didn't seem to be entirely out of the realm of possibilities that I might ask what I got in lieu of my actual order. Over his grumbling, winging, whining and complaining, I said I didn't realize it was a strictly "order off the menu" bar. I told him not to worry about changing, that this was fine and I'd drink what I'd been given. He then started yelling at the server across the bar, for the handful of clients to hear, that he should take better orders.
As I returned to my table with my super sweet litchitini in hand, he started calling after me loudly that if I wanted a different drink I had to stop drinking the one I was holding. I told him (again) not to bother. The manager (or owner?) had seen this and came over and said my litchi martini would be 4 euros instead of 8. He then asked us to pay up immediately because they needed this table for the restaurant. We finished our round of cocktails, which were all fine but not outstanding. The bartender seems to have a grasp on how to make the drinks on their list, but overall favors form over function. His drinks are visually impressive enough - not outstanding, but just enough - so that less demanding cocktail drinkers might be convinced they are getting better drinks than they really are.
Maybe he was having a bad day. Maybe he was tired. Maybe his girlfriend just dumped him. (and if not, maybe she should) But, as much as I wanted to like the Hotel du Nord, the bartender left a bad taste in my mouth - figuratively & literally.