The only good thing about this place was the bar top.
The Le Sofa website gives off a cozy, inviting and interesting vibe. This bar/restaurant serves food & cocktails and features various art exhibitions. So I was looking forward to what I'd find on the other side of the heavy red curtain as i came in the front door. First i was greeted by the bright and cheery bar top. And that was the last bright and cheery thing I experienced here.
The bartender was a bit grouchy and seemed put off at having to serve us. Note: we were the only customers at the bar, so this is not a question of too little bartender covering too many clients. She asked me if i wanted red or white sweet vermouth in my martini. She got defensive and somewhat surly when I showed genuine surprise at this question since their small cocktail menu features a dry martini with the appropriate ingredients of gin and dry vermouth listed.
What I ended up with was filled with ice and citrus chunks. Matt was completely underwhelmed by his negroni while Nicky's cuba libre was overwhelmed by excessive sweet and sour mixer giving it both a dirty cloudy appearance and a disappointing taste. For our second round, I had a margarita that was too tart and needed a bit of triple sec. None of us were pleased by any of our drinks for either round. Fortunately the prices were moderate at around 8 to 9 Euros.
I can't even assume that this is a better stop for dining in their comfy looking restaurant area. During our two hour visit, there were only two customers who came in for dinner so they apprently aren't packing them in for the food either.
With nothing else going for it, the colorful bar top is simply not enough to get me back to Le Sofa.
Sometimes the Internet lies! I'd never heard anyone talk about Drôle d'endroit pour une rencontre (DEPUR), the bar I'd planned to visit for this week's cocktail adventure, but it was all over the web - including their own website. On my way there,Violaine called me to say it wasn't at the address I'd given and no where to be seen. Conveniently, there was another bar at the same address, so we all met there instead. The very friendly barman informed us that DEPUR has been closed for the past two years - although there is talk of reopening it soon in a new location. Fortunately, this bit of cyber-misguidance led me to find an even better caiparinha happy hour than the one at Les Souffleurs a few weeks ago!
Just BE looks like a pretty typical cafe/bar that you'd find in Paris, but a bit sexy-ed up. The hot pink walls, over-sized candelabras & floating feathery angels' wings give it a touch of glamour-kitsch. We sat in the sweet little window nook on tatty but very comfy arm chairs. The drinks menu is extensive. They feature a large variety of house-infused vodkas, many many cocktails, special chocolate tipples, various warm wine concoctions and a long list of cachaca based drinks. And from 5 to 8pm it's happy hour(s)!* During this three hour time slot, caiparinhas, mojitos, cosmos and sangria are all to be had at 4 Euros.
I arrived a bit later than usual, so I flip-flopped my usual drink order and took advantage of the nearly finished happy hour with a caiparinha first. It was tasty, refreshing & super sippable . I followed up with a martini, which was heavy on the vermouth, but good. They've got Angostora bitters on hand & their gins are Hendrick's, Bombay Sapphire & Larios. I taste-tested a few of the house cocktails ordered by the others and found them to be quite nice for the price! The barman brought us some popcorn to nibble and we passed a couple of very pleasant hours in this upbeat little spot. Also, everyone remarked on how nice the bartender was, which is not something that always happens in Paris.
For cocktails in this price range (7 - 9 Euros) I think they're doing a nice job of it. While it's not up there with some of my top spots for high end drinks, this is a delightful choice if you're in the area. In fact, I'll be heading back there this weekend for a girls' night out (from 5 to 8!)
*update - Nicky and I headed to Just BE this past weekend and they have gone from having "happy hours" to being a "happy bar" where all cocktails (including champagne drinks) are all 5 Euros all the time. The French Kiss with fresh raspberry was nice and refreshing!
**update - I headed out to Just BE for an apero with friends the other night and have to report back that there has been a serious drop in the quality of the drinks. Of the 6 drinks ordered by the group, only one was a real winner. And they no longer have fresh raspberry or other fruit juices behind the bar. It seems they may have changed bar staff and I think the cocktail menu is suffering because of it. Perhaps a simple champagne based cocktail would still be a good bet here, given the prices, but otherwise, I'm not too happy with it.
52martinis follows me in my search for the finest cocktails in Paris. Every Wednesday, I try a new place. I start with a martini for a standard of comparison and then usually order a second. Occasionally, I'll blog on other bars outside of my Wednesday Cocktail Adventures as well. Got a bar you think makes great drinks? Let me know, I'd love to try it!