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Friday, March 28, 2008

Wednesday Cocktail Adventure: le Fumoir

For searching convenience, I've cut and pasted my earlier entries from eGullet before my blog existed, so there are no photos for these first few:

le Fumoir
6, Rue de l'Amiral Coligny
75001 Paris

Everyone seems to love le Fumoir . But, as my second try for Wednesday Night Cocktail Adventures, it didn’t knock out the Experimental Cocktail Club as my favorite so far.

When I walked in on Wednesday, I remembered why everyone likes it so much – it’s got great atmosphere. There’s a big, welcoming bar greeting you as soon as you walk in and tables, booths and couchy-things scattered about. The restaurant area further back looks comfy, fun and smells good. If you get the nice spot with the red (fake leather?) sofa you can relax and feel like you’re in a place where you should get good cocktails and good conversation. You’ve already got a good start for cocktails in Paris when “a martini” on the drinks menu means a classic martini (with their 3 variations) instead of a glass of sweet vermouth over ice. (note: I’m not disparaging sweet vermouth over ice as a common French apero - but this search is about finding a typical gin/vermouth martini)

While as I said, I don’t believe in testing my bartender and expecting him to know just what I want, I also don’t want to be that annoying jerk at crowded bar who is constantly telling him what to do. And (being happy hour!) the bar was crowded. So, I just ordered a standard martini. I was surprised when it arrived within minutes (making me wonder if it had been sitting at the bar already? Prepoured?) it was too crowded for such speedy service. The martini (served with olives) was pretty good – nice proportion of gin/vermouth (which was specified with their three classic martini choices) although not as chilled as I would like. I asked what gin they used – it was the house, which is Gordons.

I followed my martini with an old fashioned. Then, (ignoring my two drink plan) followed that with a side car. However, the fact that I still felt pretty decent (read: sober) after three drinks, made me wonder how watered down the second & third drinks may have been. The old fashioned was good. But, the sidecar wasn’t really that great – lots of citrus mixer in it. (I drink a lot of sidecars…so the difference may not be so apparent to someone who doesn’t like them as much) But, considering that, I still enjoyed the cocktails there – especially at the 6.50 Euros happy hour price. For anyone who just generally likes cocktails (but isn’t a high maintenance cocktail aficionado) it’s a good spot to stop for a drink. Non-happy hour prices were about double, and I have a feeling that outside of the that time, you might get more of an opportunity to let the bartender make you exactly what you want (and they have the appropriate spirits and equipment to do so, so I wouldn’t write it off as a nice cocktail bar!) And, I have to say: what we got, was well-made, it’s just that they didn’t do it exactly as I would have. Also of note, the service was very good (they were helpful about moving chairs and tables around to accommodate us, answering questions, speedy orders)

My fellow-testers ordered several different drinks as well, but the only thing I really noted was that the margarita was pretty decent and the Green Dancer (I think that was the name) was too minty for my taste. (and just for someone else’s perspective – besides mine - they all really enjoyed it)

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