Wednesday Cocktail Adventures: Le Lucien of Hotel Fouquet
46 avenue George V
01 40 69 60 00
The Bedazzler is a "cheap-ass rhinestone-studding tool favored by art teachers and over-excitable soccer moms everywhere, the biggest piece of crap sold on late-night TV since the Thighmaster, the reason women own shirts with glittery kitty-cats on them." Oh how I wish I had come up with that totally apt description myself (even though, secretly, I'd like to own one.) So, the Bedazzler is the first thing I thought of when I came face to face with the lifesize panther standing guard at the entrance to Fouquet Hotel's Bar Le Lucien:
This five star hotel at the very tip of the fancy "Triangle d'Or" is a (sometimes forced) melange of classic and modern design both inside and out. Once past the Swarovski encrusted kitty, we were able to better appreciate the mix of old-school style and trendy swank. Tasteful bookshelves line the walls and welcoming oversized, overstuffed chairs fill a room punctuated by modern ostentasia like the huge, blinged-out, lit-up Grey Goose bottle in a display case. The gorgeous terrace continues the theme of old+new a bit more successfully. Perhaps this bipolar decorating scheme reflects their (trademarked!?) concept of "Dignified Luxury"© which is a philosophy of providing luxury surroundings while remaining environmentally responsible. (Two extremes which I do give them big props for attempting to reconcile)
The cocktail menu begins with a page of bubbly-inspired choices, followed by a page of Grey Goose vodka cocktails, a page of Bombay Sapphire gin cocktails, and finally a page of various rhum, tequila and whiskey based cocktails. Each category contains four or five established cocktails (Singapore sling, cosmo, etc) and four or so house creations. A cocktail will set you back 24 Euros. The gin choice is a scant Hendricks, Tanqueray 10 and Bombay Sapphire. [and they are clearly pushing the Bombay and Grey Goose with whom they must have some kind of partnership] Barsnacks of garlic nuts, olives, crackers, hummus-filled pastries and smoked salmon with quinao were more impressive in abundance and presentation, than flavor.
My Tanqueray 10/Noilly Prat martini came, stirred, cold and with the requested twist. I don't love Tanqueray 10 in my martinis, but acknowledge that my tastes change over time so gave it another try. The drink was well-made. (I still would have preferred a different gin, but that's my choice) I followed up with a So Easy...F (champagne with a cognac tea liqueur). Matt and Violaine's drinks included the Bombay Fouquet (Gin, sweet vermouth, fresh basil, lemon juice, raspberry puree and passion fruit juice) and the Bombay Marrakech (Gin infused with Moroccan spices, fresh orange juice, grenadine, pineapple juice and fig jam).
The service was flawless and the staff seems to have a solid grasp of the cocktail menu - having both a real familiarity with the drinks and being able to suggest based on tastes. They're using some interesting and unusual ingredients (eucalyptus water, fresh wasabi, egg whites, jasmine syrup) and beautiful garnishes (many of which are meant to be consumed to add to the experience of the drink). They're even doing Cointreau Caviar.
Yet, while the drinks were excellent by Parisian standards, I still can't bring myself to give them a fully enthusiastic two thumbs up. I can't help but thinking the drinks could use a slight bit of tweaking (less citrus twist in my So Easy...F, more basil in Matt's Bombay Marrakech.) to bring them to perfection. I get the impression that it is first and foremost a 5 star hotel and secondly a cocktail bar. And that, I believe, is the problem with a lot of upscale hotel bars: they're damn good & you're often bedazzled by the accessories and service, but they could be better for the price.