Wednesday Night Cocktail Adventure: Oxyd
26 Avenue Jean-Aicard
Tel: 01 48 06 20 81
Sure first impressions are important. But, they’re not enough to hold your interest if you find yourself disappointed with what’s behind that flirty glance. And, let’s face it: we’re looking for serious relationships here at 52martinis, not just passing fancies!
When I first arrived at Oxyd, a bit earlier than the rest of the crowd, I was pleasantly surprised to find this offbeat little oasis in an area with no shortage of run of the mill bars. The nice weather guaranteed a happy crowd on the good sized sidewalk terrace and inside the ambience was ratty-tatty hip flea market with cushy large sofas and arms chairs stuffed into corners making snug little spaces for friendly groups. The many tables in the center up the odds of finding at least a seat if the cozy corners are full. A well worn antique piano gives it a mustily agreeable “I’ve just stumbled into my grandma’s attic” touch. I was told they have fun music in the evenings and project films on a screen on one wall. Tajines are served in the bar and the adjoining restaurant. So far, this place seemed possibly big, interesting and varied enough to provide a promising night spot for large crews looking for a good time in a lively environment.
The drinks menu features the standard beers, wines and softs and offers a few pages of cocktails arranged by spirit running between 7 to 9 Euros. The small scruffy bar was lined with several house made rhums arrangés (infused rums originally created in places like Madagascar and Reunion Island) and the menu featured several rum-based drinks. But the sparse, dusty bottles of low grade spirits behind the bar hoarsely croak: “this is not a cocktail destination.”
Perhaps seeing me eye the selection, the “barman” announced “I’m not the barman. I can only do beer and wine.” No problem, I told him. I was in no rush so I said I’d wait for the barman’s arrival. Did he have an idea of when he was coming? No. Obviously, from a cocktail standpoint, this didn’t impress. But, I did feel a bit sorry for the guy back there who had no idea what he was doing and minutes later announced to the next customer that not only were cocktails out of the question, but he couldn’t do beer either. Tea or coffee were the choices since he couldn’t manage to pour a draft beer without a flurry of foam. This was clearly not his job. The barman eventually arrived, but in this place void of vermouth, I was out of luck for a martini. I asked him what he recommended in the way of rum drinks. I got an okay mojito and followed up with a very poor planteurs.
I thought, perhaps, their rhum arrangé might be interesting. Maybe those laboratorical looking glass jars with their handwritten labels contained some enlightening elixir. Maybe someone here was a well practiced master when it came to infusing rhum with tasty complimentary flavors. Sure, maybe. I still wasn’t willing to risk it. Instead I talked Matt into taking one for his cocktail. Good call. He got a tiny glass tea cup of what tasted like iced Theraflu. Theraflu is good for colds, not cocktails.
One might think I would have left. But, last week’s cocktail adventure was a bit unusual because it dovetailed into a big group outing for some friends who were in town and plenty of folks who wanted to see them. So after an hour or two of tasting and testing, suddenly our group grew beyond Wednesday night cocktail adventure proportions to 25 or so party people looking to get out, catch up, eat and drink. We had reserved the small alcove, but our group spilled out around the bar, onto the tables and into the street.
And, this is where this bar worked well. For a large group of people, there was plenty of space to mingle, relax in a comfy corner, order something off the food menu or head outside for a bit of air. When the owner arrived later in the evening, the feeling in the bar lifted for the better and he immediately set about visiting tables, checking on customers, lighting candles and placing out little dishes of peanuts.
While I can quite confidently say that their cocktails are crap, fortunately our lot had enough high spirits of our own to turn a sour cocktail adventure into a frolicking good night anyway.