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Friday, May 1, 2009

Wednesday Cocktail Adventures: le Tarmac

Le Tarmac
33 rue de Lyon
Paris 12ème
Tél : 01 43 41 97 70

Is Big Brother watching us? Even while we're drinking cocktails?

When I arrived at le Tarmac and found Ritu already there, she showed me her receipt for her monthly metro pass. She pointed out that the receipt shows the activity for this month and last month and felt it is a bit "big brother" to have all of her movements recorded. I agreed, but we both conceded that there is probably much more information about our private lives "out there" and accessible to others. But, onto more important matters at hand, I asked the barman if he could make a "dry martini." He said of course and moments later came back with a long glass, filled with plenty of ice, a lemon chunk and liquid that had a slight yellow tinge. He left. I suspiciously sipped. Ritu could tell from my facial expression alone after that first sip that I was not loving my 'martini' and I told her it was nothing but a glass full of dry vermouth. A few minutes later the barman returned to our table and asked me if there was something wrong with my martini. Now the bartender was nowhere nearby when I tasted, my back was him so he couldn't see my expression, we weren't speaking loudly and there were plenty of other people thronged around the bar to prevent the drifting of my conversation to his ears. Were the tables bugged? Was big brother really watching?

Fear not, 52 martinis readers! As far as I know Parisian bars are not wired. A waitress had seen my expression when I took the first drink and went to the tell the barman that it didn't look like I had gotten what I expected. I explained to the very nice and accommodating gentleman that I had wanted dry vermouth and gin mixed together. This is the point where he tells me that they do not have dry vermouth. (now, remember, I am drinking a glass of nothing but dry vermouth.) I explain to him that the stuff in that bottled labeled Martini is in fact vermouth. I find this funny, because this is the 3rd bar in Paris where I've had this exact same conversation with the bartender.

Matt and Violaine arrived and ordered off the menu, which offers a dozen or so cocktails such as margaritas, bloody marys and americanos at 6 - 9 Euros. Matt had a daiquiri, Violaine a mojito and I had a margarita for my 2nd round. While none of these very average drinks dazzled, we were impressed by the friendly and helpful service. And, fortunately, it was happy hour, so the drinks turned out to be only 3 - 4 Euros each. The bar munchies are little plates of snacky crackers and dried fruit. They also do tapas plates at 2 - 3 Euros, so we ordered a few of these, which ranged from fine to good.

The atmosphere at le Tarmac is brightly lit and clean. Matt commented that the decor felt a bit cheap and I have to agree. In a nod to the name, pictures of airplanes adorned the walls. However, I'm not sure what the pictures of the double decker bus or the bunch of bananas are a nod to. I do like a bar with a terrace, so they have that going for them. Overall, this place should be a hit with a younger crowd who are swayed more by happy hour prices than high end cocktails. But, just so Big Brother knows, I probably won't be going back there anytime soon.

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Anonymous columbine said...

about your Martini: sadly, it shows that as with everything, most people don't get trained properly - it' s easy enough to confuse the vermouth with the cocktail if no one has told you different and you are originally a person who goes to drink cocktails in "proper" cocktail bars...remember that cocktails are a very recent thing in French culture, Paris may be a capital but it is more of a trend follower than a trend setter. as in all trend followers, there are those who follow well and those who monkey crudely. Parisians seems to have discovered cocktails through mojitos and don't seem to drink much else on cocktails (apart from vodka).
i am curious to hear about your "China Club" experience (and what you thought about their olive mix)

May 11, 2009 at 2:18 AM  
Blogger Forest said...

I think you're absolutely right Columbine. i had to put the China Club onhold for a bit as I'm going out of town for the rest of the month, but it'll be my first stop when I get back & I'll let you know.

May 14, 2009 at 3:48 AM  
Blogger Life On Planet Patricia said...

I think it's the brand "Martini (and Rossi)" Vermouth that confuses the uneducated Parisian bartender as I had a very similar experience when I ordered my first manhattan in Paris and said it was like a martini except with bourbon instead of gin and vermouth. Result was a glass of vermouth.

But so nice that you get little free munchies at most of the places you go. This is a thing of the past in Boston.

June 6, 2009 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger Forest said...

Hi columbine...i completely forgot you your were curious about my thoughts on the olive mix when I made my post...but funnily I had commented on the olives in my post. I liked them - we figured red chili sauce+sesame mix (as you saw from my post) but everyone seemed to like them - what did you think? Anyway, as you saw, I liked the experience - and I always like a happy hour, but I am a bit bummed the do the 2/1 insted of just giving a break on drinks (or at least letting you split the 2/1 with a friend)

June 11, 2009 at 6:28 AM  
Blogger Forest said...

hey patricia...wait till you see the pic of the free munchies we got at last night's bar visit (i'll post on it later - the Why bar) but I was quite impressed with theirs!

June 11, 2009 at 6:29 AM  

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