One-handed Cocktail Adventures: le 47 at Chateau Fontenac
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One of fun things about writing a booze-related blog is meeting lots of interesting people. Visiting imbibers usually end up joining me for a drink or two, which is how I found myself at Curio Parlor with Chris of SpiritsReview. Afterwards, Chris and his wife invited me to tag along for drinks at le 47.
You don't hear a lot of cocktail buzz around this discrete little bar of the 4 star hotel Chateau Frontenac near the Champs. The bar itself (overseen by the exuberant Ugo Frabetti) is rather tiny, the decor is upscale cozy with plush arm chairs grouped around low tables and ambiently dim lighting from tasteful chandeliers.
My impression (read: wild ass guess made by someone who has never worked in a hotel) is that running a cocktail bar in a hotel is more challenging than running a dedicated cocktail bar, due to having to work within the constraints of the whims, restraints and direction of hotel management whose primary interest may not be craft cocktails. But, Ugo manages this little bar with flair. The selection - though small - is good with a respectable 8 choices of gin. (Beefeeter, Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, Hayman's Old Tom, Gvine, Hendrick's, Beefeater 24, and Tanqueray 10.)
Cocktails range from 16 - 20 Euros, with a choice of champagne, short and long drinks. The heavily pushed Cognac Summit is present, but you'll also find more unusual choices for a Paris bar such as the Pimm's cup, Tommy's Margarita or a Ramos Gin Fizz, one of the drinks our party ordered.
Because the Ramos Gin Fizz requires eggs and there were none behind the bar and the kitchen was closed, Ugo offered to "climb into" the closed room service somehow to procure the needed ingredient. We waited for sometime, until he returned: egg in one hand, other hand held gingerly against his chest and a curious expression. Apparently, during the egg-hunt Ugo broke his hand (in two places we found out later) and had to close the bar for the night to newcomers.
But for us, he was still determined make sure we got to sample the cocktails we'd been waiting so long for by now. He poured me a nice glass of champagne to sip while waiting for him to stir up some drinks and the evening degenerated into a fun and entertaining time of joking with Ugo, watching him direct hotel staff, Chris joining in a bit behind the bar and various different drinks to sample. And, when it finally did arrive, my Beefeater 24/Noilly Prat martini was excellent (and just perfectly cold!).
This address is not the latest hot spot or a see-and-be-seen scene. It's a refined and quiet bar for a relaxing drink off the heavily-trodden cocktail path from a barman with the winning combination of knowledge, enthusiasm and great customer service. But if you want to go see Ugo, you'll have to wait a month until he comes back from the medical leave for his cocktail-related injury.